It's a term used more and more frequently over the past 20 or so years, and does seem to have different meanings for different people. But truth be told, there's nothing natural about any of it. Natural for a horse is living on the range, foraging for feed and not having to be annoyed by humans wanting to ride them.
One of my favorite NH terms is "round penning". In the good old days, we just called it "working a horse". This appears to be more of an excuse not to ride the animal, and I'm sorry, but chasing a horse around a round pen until he's huffing and puffing, wobbly legged, isn't training the horse. Yes, I do longe my horses in a round pen. I prefer to do my longlining and bitting work there as well. Oh, you say? Longlining and bitting up? How decidedly non NH! Exactly.
This is been said and endless number of times, both by me and by others, but there's a great deal to be said for proven, common-sense approaches to training horses. Since when did selling gadgets and DVDs make someone a good horse trainer? Make no mistake, there are plenty of excellent horsemen who do produce videos and who do sell tack, however, those aren't their primary sources of income. These folks actually spend time in the saddle to earn their money. Imagine that!
I am going to expound upon this topic later on when I have time to go into some of the history behind the term, delving into the methodology and philosophy, as well as all of the debate regarding “traditional” training versus “natural” training. My personal philosophy of training horses is simply common sense – which is the entire reason for the subtitle of this blog. Common sense horse training. I can't repeat myself enough, though -- wet saddle blankets!! That's how your horse is going to become a good citizen.