In the world of what has come to be known as Natural Horsemanship, there is a prevailing thought that if you ever use more than featherlight pressure, you’re not a good horser (my word).

People have adopted the “natural” philosophy and assumed that to create a ‘light’ horse, you must handle them lightly all the time. And that if you ever use more than two ounces of pressure, you’re going to make your horse heavy.

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So, well-intentioned riders treat their horse with kid gloves all the time, and the horse ends up getting the bad end of the deal. Why? Because communication is hindered, and the horse is never enabled to reach his full potential.

Read ‘What Is A Broke Horse?’

Once you understand a few basic principles, you find that a horse is willing to cooperate with what you are asking him to do. Read more here: It’s Not That Complicated.

Some Natural Horsemanship Truth

The truth is that if you’re being super light when the horse is being heavy, he will get heavier. And, if you’re being heavy when the horse is being light, he will get heavier.

So both of these scenarios create a heavy, unresponsive, dull horse. OR the horse could get lighter when you’re heavy handed and lighter when you’re light handed.

So yes, using a natural horsemanship approach could be ruining your horse if you’re constantly being light and not getting firm when necessary


A good horser can feel when the horse is pushing through and when he’s being responsive. He’s able to adjust and be light when the horse is light and heavy when the horse is heavy. We all want to be light riders, but to get a horse to the point where that’s possible, there’ll be times when you get heavier.

Here’s A Video With Some More About Light, Heavy, and Natural Horsemanship:

Using Proper Natural Horsemanship | An Example

Say you’re using two ounces of pressure and the horse starts pushing on that. If you don’t increase the pressure, he doesn’t have a REASON not to push on the two ounces. So the result is a horse that is always pushy. In the illustration below, I’m offering the horse a lighter pressure at first and lightly shaking the rope to try to get him to back up, and he’s just standing there.

So, after offering the “good deal” first with no results, I increase pressure until he takes one step back.

Note: This is just one of many groundwork exercises you can do to help improve your timing and communication.

The Goal Is To Be As Light As Possible, But As Firm As Necessary.

And as long as you’re doing that, then you can call it Natural Horsemanship or whatever kind of horsemanship you want. What matters is that it’s effective and fair to your horse.

If you want to learn more about improving your timing and communication, I highly recommend signing up for a free trial to the Buckaroo Crew.

You’ll get access to all my training courses (including my Perfect Timing course) and all my videos too. Get your free trial here:

Carson James
Carson James

Carson James' background is in Vaquero Horsemanship, and for the majority of his career, he worked on cattle ranches where he rode horses all day, every day. His knowledge comes from real life experience using traditional Buckaroo horsemanship to train horses and fix problems. He is now taking all of this knowledge and experience and sharing it with horse owners through his blog, his Insider list, and his Buckaroo Crew. He has a unique way of breaking things down where they're easy to understand, both for the horse and the human.