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The Magic Behind the Poles

Walking Ground Poles For years, they sat on one end of our indoor arena—five ground poles anchored by concrete blocks. With unwavering consistency, we worked our horses over them once a week, either ground driving or riding. But it was not until the winter when my mom and I watched Dr. Reiner Klimke videos over and over that I realized why our ground poles remained set up all the time. Their purpose was not to alleviate the monotony of training sessions as I assumed but to physically improve the horse. As I sat in Mom’s office and watched the videos Read the full article…

Filed Under: Horse Training & Exercises, Horse Care & Upkeep, Horse Health & Fitness, Classical Dressage, Western Dressage, Learn Dressage | Tags: ,

Winter Training in the Round Pen

Ever since first building my own round pen in the late 90’s, rough posts splintering my fingers and refusing to sink in to the rocky Vermont soil, my use of these training areas has ebbed and flowed over the years. As an equine fitness specialist, I avoid movements and exercises with a lot of repetition, which often steers me away from the circling necessitated by round pens. There have, however, been times when I am drawn to what can be accomplished in these small training environments, like the first season I spent in California where I introduced fundamentals to young Read the full article…

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

The Silver Lining of Rehab

As an equine fitness enthusiast, I occasionally end up helping students develop rehabilitation programs for their horses after injury or prolonged layup. This is never a bright time. Faced with wasted muscles or lower legs mottled with inflammation or hooves with sections missing, owners look at their steeds warily. How will they ever perform normally again? While optimism can be a challenge, I take every chance I can to remind students that this phase has a silver lining. By the fact that so much confinement and downtime has robbed your horse of movement and muscular tone, you now have the Read the full article…

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

How did your Ride ‘Feel’?

How did your ride “feel”? Over the past few decades in the horse world, I have watched practices become more sophisticated, and mostly these are positive advances: trainers gaining business skills, veterinary science making huge gains, our training methods evolving and expanding. But in one improvement of modern horsemanship, I miss the past. If I could un-do one small advancement of tools and resources, I might erase the invention of G.P.S. devices and gadgets. Before G.P.S. was available on every phone and most watches, we had to guess the mileage of our conditioning rides by how they felt underneath us. Read the full article…

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How Much to Give Away

How Much to Give Away Many of us make our horses stiffer with our attempts at kindness. Aiming for light and forgiving rein contact, we sometimes make the mistake of too much looseness, which feels erratic and unclear to the horse. Rather than improving our horse’s balance and physiology, we cause him to fall apart immediately following moments of correct movement. Whether or not to interject releases of pressure with the contact is not the question; the question is when and how to do this. Like many of my students, I want my horse to know when he has done Read the full article…

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