Horsemanship is a collective term for different horse training techniques derived from observation of the natural behaviour of free-roaming horses.
The idea is working in sympathy with a horse in order to obtain cooperation rather than using harsh methods or force. Natural horsemanship is not confined to one discipline per se but is rather a widely used method. For example, Classical Dressage practitioners such as Antoine de Pluvinel (1555–1620 CE) and François Robichon de La Guérinière (1688–1751) also emphasised this gentle technique in their training.
On Pluvinel.com you can find over a 100 instructors teaching NHMS and instructor and trainers teaching ALL disciplines.
The modern natural horsemanship movement developed primarily in the United States Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain states. Brothers Tom and Bill Dorrance were early modern practitioners. They had a strong influence on Ray Hunt, Horseman, who in turn became a significant influence on Buck Brannaman, Horseman. Other practitioners, such as Pat Parelli, came from the rodeo world. Techniques and precise theories vary between practitioners of natural horsemanship, but the central theme is that they advocate training and handling methods which are kind and gentle.
"Natural horsemanship" is a more recent term, originating in the western United States, becoming popular in 1985. Its origin is widely attributed to the movement to Monty Roberts, who then wrote a book using the phrase "The Man Who Listened to Horses". The term became linked to "horse whispering" in the 1990s, when the popularity of Nicholas Evans' book The Horse Whisperer, and the later Robert Redford film of the same name promoted popular awareness of natural horsemanship.
"The principals of Natural Horsemanship are based on not only creating a physical relationship with your horse but one that is also mental and emotional. Horses like humans think and have feelings. Without communicating with a horse on all three levels you can never truly establish a relationship of mutual trust and respect much less a willing partnership with you as the senior partner or leader. This is also a prerequisite for Classical Dressage." - Tim Hayes, Hayes is for Horses