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On the Bit… or on the Buckle?

On the Bit… or on the Buckle? Since I advocate strongly for dressage horses to also ride trails regularly, I found myself years ago implementing a rule or mantra that applied to any time spent in either of these experiences: on the buckle OR on the bit. Essentially, this boils down to riders keeping their horses in one of these states at any given time. Whether on trail or in the arena, they would ensure their horses were either working on the bit or traveling ‘on the buckle’ on a loose rein. It is the middle ground between these two Read the full article…

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What are Horse Calisthenics?..and Why Do They Matter?

What Counts as Calisthenics? And Why Might You Care? Luckily, someone interrupted my rhapsody during a clinic last week praising the value of calisthenics for developing equine athletes. What exactly did I mean by calisthenics?, the student asked. She was probably not alone wondering, lost as  I was describing the power of these exercises. The Webster dictionary defines calisthenics rather broadly as: “Exercises to develop a strong, trim body.” These exercises, the definition continues, require minimal gear or complicated moves. They build body strength while simultaneously developing GRACEFULNESS through their precise execution. So, what counts as calisthenics for horses, and what Read the full article…

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What is Proprioception?…and why Should Equestrians Care?

What Is Proprioception? It probably pegs me as a total geek for horse fitness, but I’m delighted by how frequently I hear folks using the term proprioception nowadays. Hopefully it doesn’t mean that equestrians just like fancy words, but signals instead that they are clued to how crucial this concept is. Still, though, some of us might be a little foggy on the exact meaning or definition of this term, so I wanted to clear it up. Proprioception, a term used frequently in physical therapy and in my books, refers to how individuals “read” the position, motion, and equilibrium of Read the full article…

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Are the Hind Legs Pushing Equally?

Equal Forces Makes Correct Movement Challenges when a horse cannot collect or extend his stride with ease, not to mention travel in truly straight alignment, most often arise from unequal use of his hind legs. In other words, he pushes harder off one hind leg than the other. This is akin to we humans using one of our hands more to accomplish tasks (in my case, I’m right-handed). We end up stronger, more confident, and coordinated with that limb. I mention this comparison to illustrate the prevalence of limb dominance. It is far more present in our quadruped companions than Read the full article…

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Weakness in the Stifle… or the Back?

Over the past decade I have observed with delight many owners paying a lot more attention to their horses’ stifle joints. In fact, many readers find their way to my books when they are trying to fix what seems like weakness or discomfort there. While I appreciate such keen focus on this important area of the horse, the downside is that weak stifles are not always easy to diagnose. Most often, stifle weakness shows up in the form of toe-dragging, lack of impulsion, or resistance to canter. Unfortunately, though, these symptoms are not always flawless evidence of stifle dysfunction. Tension or Read the full article…

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