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Power in Interruption

In the following photo, Roxy demonstrates what I call the power of interruption. This describes the benefit of momentarily altering the horse’s movement patterns for the sake of improving them. Not unlike their human pals, horses generate movement through patterns held in the neuromuscular system. These patterns serve them well, allowing them to move and perform various tasks with utmost efficiency and limited active brain recruitment to move limbs. While indeed efficient, these patterns are not always optimal. For instance, Roxy has a pattern of trailing her hind legs out behind her when she trots rather than swinging them well Read the full article…

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

Value in Being Forever a Beginner

The longer I stay in this profession, the more I value experiences that facilitate what Zen teachers call Beginner’s Mind, which recently took the form of an early morning listening to Corazon chew his hay. Becoming an expert in any field often entails specializing your knowledge and skills to the point of abstraction. You end up operating on a level that is detached from those with whom you are trying to serve and relate. Beginner’s Mind tethers you to the openness and fascination, the receptivity, of beginners in a sport. Remaining relatable may or may not be important to every Read the full article…

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

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work! Right before dark I climbed up the final hill and jogged down a wooded path towards the finish line with my leg muscles so spent they felt like they were bleeding internally. My mind, though, was fresh and alert. I’m going to make it! I whispered aloud to myself. In reality, I meant we were going to make it. As solitary as it sounds to run a 100 kilometer (62 miles) trail race, the outcome relies on a team as I recently experienced. As I jogged off the starting line of the Vermont 100 last Read the full article…

Filed Under: Running | Tags: , , , , , ,

What if my Horse Gets Anxious About Ground Poles?

Occasionally while giving clinics, I encounter a horse that becomes anxious or revved up about working over ground poles or cavalletti, which are a large part of my lessons. Often frustrated or embarrassed, the rider will ask what she can do. She understands that ground pole exercises are beneficial and yet she can’t ride the horse over poles without him getting charged up. First of all, there is no reason to become embarrassed or frustrated. Plenty of horses find their own ‘creative’ ways of negotiating pole work, including leaping sideways, bounding spastically across the poles, or standing in place snorting at Read the full article…

Filed Under: Uncategorized, Horse Training & Exercises | Tags: ,

Dressage Principles that Sound Like Zen Riddles

It sounded like one of those Zen riddles intended to puzzle my brain until it staggered upon some flicker of enlightenment. Forward does not mean faster, my dressage instructor annunciated, her exasperation rising. And then with the next breath she waggled her longe whip towards me to assist in creating a forward-but-not-faster movement. My Welsh pony surged ahead in a bone-rattling trot as our speed ticked up, and I gleaned from my instructor’s grimace that I was failing her proverb. As I understood it, I needed to get my pony’s hind legs moving with more activity and energy. But how Read the full article…

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