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Good vs. Evil: the horse’s nervous system

An ever-present challenge of training horses is that they are hard-wired to escalate tension. This has helped them survive in the wild. Studies of the amygdala area of their brain show that when a horse is in a state of mental tension, even a small external stimulus causes the anxiety to quickly ratchet up. The horse is then trapped in flight mode. Unfortunately, we load them with stimulus whenever we interact with them, especially when we are trying to attain specific results. Obviously a horse in a hyper-toned state of mind cannot be expected to use his body in ways Read the full article…

Filed Under: Horse Care & Upkeep, Horse Health & Fitness | Tags: , ,

How to Place Ground Poles for Gaited Horses

It’s no secret that I rely a lot on cavalletti routines in clinics and training. Riders of gaited horses, though, occasionally feel left out since much of the information about how to arrange ground pole exercises is based on the average distance of trot strides. I myself have been guilty of writing articles that refer only to how to set up poles for walk, trot, and canter. Riders of non-trotting horses are left with the impression that cavalletti routines are not for them. To the contrary, gaited horses benefit enormously from the spinal stabilizing effects of these exercises. As gaited Read the full article…

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Riders are the Best Training Aids

The more we learn about horses’ anatomy and body mechanics, the more it becomes clear how riding and training can alter their bodies and not always in positive ways. As we observe just how fragile and delicate these animals are beneath the surface it can be tempting to question whether we should be riding them in the first place. I have watched a couple of my colleagues step away from riding and training for just this reason, causing me to question my own participation. I continue to believe that nearly every horse can be made better by a rider. To Read the full article…

Filed Under: Horse Training & Exercises, Horse Health & Fitness, Classical Dressage | Tags: , ,

Spring Conditioning for Horses, where to start?

Spring Conditioning: Where to start? When spring finally arrives, the sunny riding season ahead can meet riders with both excitement and anxiety. Where do I start, you might wonder as you calculate how un-fit your horse has become from a winter mostly off. How long will it take to ease him back to fitness? What sorts of exercises and timelines should you use? In this article, I’ll answer these questions plus offer a simple schedule in addition to some rules you never want to break. As a starting point, let’s consider when a horse loses the fitness he might have Read the full article…

Filed Under: Horse Care & Upkeep, Horse Health & Fitness |

What are Corrective Exercises for Horses?

What are Corrective Exercises for Horses? Whether or not it works in our favor, horses become stronger somewhere any time they exercise. Unfortunately, this often means tightening up muscles and patterns we wish to change for ideal wellness and performance. For instance, when a rider spends ten minutes trying to help a stiff horse bend his body on a circle but only achieves good results for two or three of those minutes, that means the horse has spent the remaining eight (or more) minutes adding strength to the areas in his body we are trying to change. This ratio does Read the full article…

Filed Under: Horse Training & Exercises, Horse Care & Upkeep, Horse Health & Fitness | Tags: , ,