Focus and Fitness in Horses

What Does Focus Have to do with Fitness? It is a conundrum that many riders have faced in the midst of consistent, focused effort: despite hours of invested time and exercises, the horse’s fitness and athleticism show no improvement. Even the most wisely chosen exercises do not seem to be working. One explanation for this might be due to the precision with which they are executed. Research from the past few years, though, has revealed an alternative—and surprisingly non-physical—explanation for some of these cases. What we have learned recently about horses’ brain function shows us that curiosity, or mental engagement, Read the full article…

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Conditioning Horses: Stability before Strength

For most horses, it is in the area of strength that they can—and need to—make the most gains. Evolution has given horses remarkable aerobic adaptations. Generally speaking, they make rapid gains from cardiovascular exercise and their bodies handle aerobic demands efficiently. Their musculoskeletal system, however, lacks the same adaptability. Most often when a horse cannot perform a particular task, it is due to insufficient muscular strength, coordination, or motor/sensory nerve recruitment. So does this mean you should spend a lot of time trying to increase your horse’s strength? Yes, but with a caveat. You cannot build strength until you have Read the full article…

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The Not-So-Scientific Training Challenge

If you have spent any time trying to train horses to accomplish physical goals, like moving more athletically, chances are good you have discovered that some individuals are more willing than others. Much as I would like to offer science-based explanations for this, I believe a lot of it owes to a less scientific trait that we’ll call ‘personal space.’ During recent clinic observations, I heard author and trainer Mary Wanless use this term to refer to a horse that was tickly in his back muscles. This made it difficult for his rider to help him travel with his back Read the full article…

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Articles from the Canada Horse Journal

The editor of the Canada Horse Journal sent me these pdf files of articles I wrote last year. So I thought you’d enjoy reading them! Just click on each image below.  

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Help, my Horse is Stumbling!

Help, my Horse is Stumbling! The most obvious place to look when a horse begins to stumble regularly is his feet because they are after all what he is tripping over, right? While he might be stubbing them, his toes are infrequently the source of this problem. In fact, a tripping problem that shows up acutely often has nothing to do with his feet. Before you call your farrier, rule out faulty mechanics in the rest of the body. Tripping and stumbling often develops from poor movement patterns that restrict the front limbs, progressing sometimes to the extent that a horse Read the full article…

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