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Cavesson: it’s all about connection

The Cavesson: it’s all about connection Too much of a good thing, taken to its excess, usually becomes less than ideal. Such is the case with lightness. Its pursuit, or its misinterpretation, often results in horses moving without sufficient tone throughout their bodies because riders or handlers have over emphasized the goal of loose reins. The condition of loose reins is not necessarily synonymous with a horse moving in lightness. Lightness is best defined as the equilibrium of looseness and positive tension in the horse’s body that allows him to move with flawless balance and coordination. It is always accompanied Read the full article…

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Muscles: Should you ride fast or slow?

Muscles: Shall we Ride Fast or Slow? Perhaps one of the most delightful aspects of riding is the way it steadies and focuses our human minds in those moments we sit astride. For myself, anyway, I savor the monastic contemplation of the first minutes of a ride as I consider what does this horse need? Every session originates from how I can improve the horse’s physical wellbeing, and this requires a good deal of paying attention. It also requires a decision: to ride fast or slow? Many of us ride at a speed WE prefer, or one that the horse Read the full article…

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Wobbling to Better Movement

(periods of instability can lead to better proprioception, even in Terriers!) Wobbling to Better Movement Out of necessity my horses have become lighter and balanced in their movement over the past two years since moving to a new facility. I say out of necessity because this facility, while ideal in almost every way, lacks an ideal arena. What this means is that we do our schooling in a variety of places: the field, a track, the small sand arena, trails. This variety, plus less than perfect surfaces translates to the horses needing to recruit their stabilizing and postural muscles more Read the full article…

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The Sandwich Lope

The Sandwich Lope When Western Dressage first established itself, we instructors struggled to describe the requirements of a “working lope” clearly enough for students. We wanted to be sure to differentiate it from the stilted gaits seen in the Western Pleasure discipline, and yet it was also not the animated jumping-across-the-ground canter of the traditional dressage world. It should have springiness and energy, we told students, but not excessive speed. The horse should be adequately on the bit and lifting his back but maintaining the obedience and calmness seen in reining horses. So, what exactly might that feel like? In Read the full article…

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Shoulder-in…a.k.a “Abdominal Therapy”

Believing that I was offering some insightful coaching, I nearly assaulted my student with picky corrections about her leg-yield. Make him straighter, I urged. No, now get him bent more. He needs more energy. Wait, not too much—now LESS energy. She rode a few more attempts and I kept picking them apart. Finally Kay stopped, put down her reins, and gave me a wise smile. “You need to realize that I am happy just to be going sideways at all,” she admitted. Sure, all those other details sounded like worthy goals, but for now the plain act of getting her Read the full article…

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