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Archive for the ‘Problem-Solving’ Category

55CorrectiveExercises-horseandriderbooks

Have you found yourself trying to resolve one of the following challenges related to your horse’s posture or performance?

• Rebuilding after an injury or extended time off.

• Countering an unspecified weakness that prevents him from doing what you ask.

• Improving stiff, uncoordinated, or short-strided gaits.

• Softening a rigid or hollow topline.

• Lightening heaviness on the forehand.

• Correcting a hindquarter anomaly like locking stifles, an unstable pelvis, or a strong preference to travel one direction versus the other.

 

Or maybe you are wondering whether:

• His resistance to work is due to physical limitation or behavioral issues.

• He is physically capable to do what you’re asking.

• There is a specific source of his weakness or reason for his lack of progress.

• There is a cause for his need of frequent chiropractic adjustments or the way he often feels “not quite right.”

• There are ways you can make his gaits easier and more fun to ride.

 

Over time, horses (like people) acquire postural habits, compensate for soreness and injury, and develop poor movement patterns. This limits performance ability, causes unsoundness and health issues, and ultimately undermines the horse’s overall well-being.

Jec Aristotle Ballou has made a name for herself advocating for the horse and providing sensible instruction in his schooling, conditioning, and care. Her bestselling books and popular clinics are designed to enable any horse person to correctly apply proven principles that bring measurable progress while avoiding boredom and confusion. In her latest book 55 CORRECTIVE EXERCISES FOR HORSES, she provides a collection of mounted and unmounted exercises, demonstrating how we can actively work to improve the horse’s posture and movement, whether he is an active performance or pleasure mount, an aging or older horse that benefits from gentle exercise, or one being rehabilitated following injury, illness, or lack of conditioning.

Ballou’s positive cross–training techniques are free of shortcuts, and her guidelines for analyzing the horse’s posture and way of going help readers gain a new awareness of the equine body. Applicable for all disciplines, this is an integral collection that optimizes how the horse uses his body and helps ensure he stays sounder and healthier for more years of his life.

55 Corrective Exercises for Horses55 CORRECTIVE EXERCISES FOR HORSES is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to download a free chapter.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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It seems like after decades in the horse industry, all of a sudden, everyone is talking about fascia. This is that thin sheath of fibrous tissue that encloses the muscles and other organs, and apparently, it is really pretty important to your horse’s posture, movement, comfort, and performance. Huh. If you’re like us, all these years of riding and horse care and various bodywork therapies, and you haven’t given fascia a thought, right? Well, now is the time to acquire a whole new awareness of your horse’s body and how you can keep it happy and healthy.

We caught up with TSB author Margret Henkels, founder of Conformation Balancing, her method of fascia fitness for horses, and author of the book and DVD IS YOUR HORSE 100%? She brought us up to speed with how easy it can be to positively affect the horse’s fascia…and shared a few of the secrets that keep her going, too!

TSB: Your book and DVD IS YOUR HORSE 100%? were published in 2017. They explain your method of bodywork targeting the horse’s fascia, which anyone can do. Why do you feel fascia fitness is important to horse and rider? How can your method of bodywork help horses with “problems”?

MH: Fascia (sometimes called myofascia), or connective tissue, is an amazing tissue. When it’s healthy, it’s full of light and free movement…when it’s stiff, it’s rigid and painful. Nearly every horse experiences strain. Stuck fascia is a huge problem for a free-moving, master athlete like a horse. These dark stuck areas ruin their free movement and create a fearful mental state. Fascia is the only tissue that also “holds” emotional trauma, due to its unique properties. When a rider “melts” a hard, stiff area on their horse with their hands, this action also releases emotional anxiety related to that limit. This is a miracle for the horse! They become very grateful to us for this relief.  Riders win and keep the trust of their horse with this work. Also, the rider understands her horse much better. Limits are now recognized as physical issues, not refusals. It’s an amazing new way to relate to horses and riding.

IsYourHorse100Percent-horseandriderbooks

TSB: You first became interested in fascia and how it can be influenced when you had your own physical compensations and adhesions addressed by a bodyworker. How is fascia work for horses similar to that for humans? How does it differ?

MH: Horses and humans both feel much better with flowing fitness. Humans entertain themselves with distractions and diversions, but horses live in constant fear and anxiety if they aren’t fit. Humans often medicate the discomfort. Horses constantly fear a predator will get them. Humans might feel limited by poor fitness, but horses feel very unsafe and judged against.

TSB: What is one lesson you hope readers will take away from your book and DVD?

MH: Fascia is astonishing in its self-intelligence, and it is easy to effect huge, progressive, balancing advances from difficult, stuck, and unhappy situations.

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Margret Henkels demonstrating how to “melt” the fascia at Equine Affaire in MA, 2017.

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

MH: An Arabian horse and Frederic Pignon and Magali Delgado’s GALLOP TO FREEDOM!

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

MH: Jump big fences on a talented jumping horse. 

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

MH: Integrity.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

MH: Integrity.

Margret Henkels and Pepper

Henkels with her dog Pepper.

TSB: What is your greatest fear?

MH: That human consciousness will continue to limit the horse’s happiness.

TSB: What is your greatest extravagance?

MH: Washing my car.

TSB: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

MH: To be younger with all the gains I made in aging.

MargretHenkels-horseandriderbooks

Margret with her horses Tanga and Kira.

MH: Organic, local carrots and bee pollen.

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

MH: Being part of a transformative experience.

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

MH: Harry de Leyer, owner of Snowman.

TSB: What is your motto?

MH: Don’t give up before the miracle happens.

Margret Henkels’ BOOK and DVD are both available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont. 

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TheHowComeTrick-horseandriderbooks

I don’t know about you, but we can always use a trick or two to get our horse lives (and the rest of our lives) in order. That means get our wheels on straight and our head in the game (and the dishes done, maybe, too, to boot). Lucky for us, we have equestrian sport psychology expert Coach Daniel Stewart on call (a perk in horse book publishing) to provide all kinds of rev-your-engines-type advice. Here’s one we love from his new book FIT & FOCUSED IN 52:

You have good intentions in life, but sometimes life has a crazy way of getting in the way of your good intentions. When things like school, work, family, and a ridiculously short 24-hour day come in between you and your good intentions, it’s time for the “how come” trick.
 
If you’re like most riders, you have a few meaningful tasks you’ve been meaning to do for a while but haven’t yet gotten around to. They can be anything from cleaning your barn or house (really, when was the last time you saw the floor?) to speaking to your trainer about something that’s been worrying you. When you find the task, simply ask yourself, “How come I haven’t done it yet?” Be honest with your answer because it’ll help create the plan to finally achieve it. For example, “How come I haven’t learned to jump yet?” leads to the answer, “Because I don’t have a jump trainer, jump tack, or a jumper.” Armed with this information you can start looking for a trainer in your area with school horses and tack. Yay—the answer to your question is the answer to your problem!
 
FYI
The following “how come” questions don’t qualify for this technique:
 
– How come the word abbreviation is so long?
 
– How come the word phonetic isn’t spelled the way it sounds?
 
– How come the time of day with the slowest traffic is called rush hour?
 
– How come shipments go in cars and cargo goes in ships?
 
– How come the third hand on a watch is called the second hand?
 
Riding Focus Homework
This coming week, think of something related to your riding you’ve been putting off, and ask yourself how come you haven’t done it yet. Think about it for a while and write down your honest answers.

Then, get out of that chair and go do it!

Fit & Focused in 52_2FIT & FOCUSED IN 52 is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont. 

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DontLookDown-horseandriderbooks

We’ve all heard it over the years: “Don’t look down!” And maybe, “You look at the ground and that’s where you’ll end up!”

The real reason we shouldn’t look down while we’re riding doesn’t have as much to do with running into things or falling off as it does with the horse’s ability to perform.

You see, our eyes are heavy!

“Many of us have a habit of looking down while we are riding,” explains founder of the International Horse Agility Club Vanessa Bee in her book OVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES. “We look at the ears of our horse, or the ground, or we lean over to see if we are getting it right when learning to move the individual feet of the horse. But our eyes are heavy! Try the following experiment and you’ll begin to appreciate how difficult we  make it for our horses to move when we look down.”

1 Stand on a flat surface and balance your weight evenly through each foot.

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2 Look down at your right foot.

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3 Now lift your right foot off the ground. How easy does it feel?

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4 Now stand up again and balance your weight evenly through both feet.

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5 Look up to the right.

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6 Now lift your foot. Much easier, isn’t it?

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“If you were riding your horse and asking him to lift his right front foot off the ground, imagine how difficult it must be if you suddenly lean over and peer down to see if it is working,” Bee emphasizes. “So look up and feel that foot lifting. It’ll be so much easier for both of you.”

Over Under Through Cover FINAL-horseandriderbooksOVER, UNDER, THROUGH: OBSTACLE TRAINING FOR HORSES is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont. 

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PRINOFRIDING

THE PRINCIPLES OF RIDING by the German Equestrian Federation (FN) was first published more than 50 years ago and now has 28 editions to date. Over 400,000 have been sold, translated into 11 languages.

The ideas expressed in THE PRINCIPLES OF RIDING are based on “classical riding,” which is defined by the FN as:

“A vital and modern training system that builds on the basic principles of the ‘Old Masters,’ supplemented by new insights that serve the welfare of the horse and are purposeful for its training.”

In addition, classical riding:

  • Is oriented toward the nature of the horse–the horse’s needs and each horse’s natural, individual abilities.
  • Considers the physical precondition of the horse and the natural behavior of the horse.
  • Supports the horse’s welfare.
  • Aims toward a balanced gymnasticizing and strengthening of the horse.
  • Is diverse and versatile.
  • Develops and maintains a horse that performs willingly and confidently.
  • Demands from the rider an elastic, balanced seat, a sensitive, fine use of the aids, as well as an understanding of the nature of the horse and its correlation to training, thus leading to inner and outer balance of horse and rider.

So as horse people, why do we need to read the new edition of THE PRINCIPLES OF RIDING? Because it provides a baseline foundation of understanding for ALL areas of equestrian sport and horse management. Because it provides practical guidance to all who want to learn how to ride and train a horse appropriately, as well as comprehend why certain methods have proved correct and indispensable over the years. And because this newest revised edition emphasizes the importance of harmony between horse and rider.

THE PRINCIPLES OF RIDING are an important addition to any aspiring rider or trainer’s equestrian library, and are available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Did you know your knees can obstruct your horse’s ability to go forward? It’s weird to think about—but true! Your seat bones and feet  play a role, as well, but they are secondary to the knees.

You can use this easy test with an exercise ball to identify bad habits that may explain why your horse does (or doesn’t) respond to you in certain ways.

“The exercise ball has no brain and only does what you do,” explains biomechanics expert Wendy Murdoch in her bestselling 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES. “The ball’s movement is created by the student—intentional or otherwise. Therefore, the ball illuminates habits, offers explanations as to why the horse responds as he does, and provides an environment in which to learn new patterns. It also allows both the instructor and the student an opportunity to sort out problems before attempting to resolve them on the horse.”

1. Start by sitting in the full seat position on the ball. If necessary, place a marker to the side to see which direction the ball is rolling. To begin, individually isolate the movements of your pelvis, knees, and ankles, then combine them to determine which has the greatest influence on the direction the ball rolls. At first, you may think your ball is not reacting as it should. But the ball doesn’t lie. Have someone watch you (or work in front of a mirror) to discover what you are doing so that you can control the ball and explore the various combinations accurately.

2. When you maintain a 90-degree angle at the back of the knee without making the knees rigid, you will find that hollowing your back rolls the ball slightly back, while rounding rolls it slightly forward.

3. Beginning from a 90-degree angle at the back of the knees, straighten your knees and the ball will roll back; bend them again and it will roll forward.

4. Now lift the front of your feet and press on the floor with your heels. The ball will roll back. Lift your heels, leaving the front of your feet on the ground, and the ball may stay in place or roll forward, depending on how much you bend your knees.

5. You can override the effect of your pelvis and feet by straightening or bending your knees. Round your lower back, lift your toes, and let your knees bend: the ball rolls forward. Straighten your knees: it will roll back. Hollow your lower back, lift your heels, and bend your knees: the ball rolls forward. Straighten your knees: it rolls back.

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Note that when you straighten your knees with your feet in the stirrups, you are bracing against your horse’s forward movement regardless of whether your lower back is hollowed, rounded, or flat, and whether your foot position is heels down or toes down.

For more exercises that illuminate riding position habits in interesting ways, check out 40 5-MINUTE JUMPING FIXES by Wendy Murdoch, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont. 

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RorLFB

Has it ever crossed your mind that your horse might be “left-” or “right-handed”?

According to Gabriele Rachen-Schöneich and Klaus Schöneich in their book STRAIGHTENING THE CROOKED HORSE, every horse is either left- or right-handed, and this “handedness” or “sidedness” is almost identical to that of the human population in terms of occurrence (70-90 percent right-handed).

Interestingly, an April 2012 article on LiveScience.com explains how a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface shows that, the more social the animal—where cooperation is highly valued—the more the general population will trend toward one “sidedness” over the other.

“The most important factor for an efficient society is a high degree of cooperation,” says Professor Daniel M. Abrams, an assistant professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, in the article. “In humans, this has resulted in a right-handed majority.”

Certainly we consider the horse to be a highly social creature, and his early development as a herd and prey animal could be said to have nurtured the characteristics of cooperation, and perhaps, therefore, right-handedness. Whatever the cause, one-sidedness or forelimb dominance is a form of natural crookedness (the horse’s center of balance is displaced forward and to the right or to the left), and this can lead to big problems in the horse way of going (rhythm faults, leaning in, falling out, for example), ultimately compromising his physical and mental soundness and overall well-being.

Consider this example from STRAIGHTENING THE CROOKED HORSE:

Rhythm faults originating in the right shoulder and foreleg are probably the result of natural crookedness, which leads us to another serious problem that arises: if the horse is “leaning,” that is, placing excessive weight on his right shoulder, he will take a slightly shorter step with his right foreleg. Consequently—and this is very important—the right hind leg will also shorten its step. The horse drags the right hind leg, at first almost imperceptibly, but then more and more. This is because when the horse is leaning on his right shoulder, there is less impetus for the right hindquarter and hind leg to move, and consequently the hind leg drags behind…”leaning” on one or other of the shoulders causes a constant strain, which must eventually harm the horse. The rider’s weight inevitably makes the problem worse, especially if he is inexperienced and has not yet learned to control where to place it….It is difficult for a crooked horse to carry his rider. As a result, he becomes nervous, and this seriously affects his training.

RH2

A balanced horse shown on the left. A crooked right-handed horse is on the right.

So how do you know if your horse is a lefty or righty? He will display the following characteristics, here described as they would pertain to a right-handed horse, as that is the more common scenario:

  • He leans on his right shoulder and takes a shorter step with his right foreleg. This causes the right hind leg to shorten its step. You can feel what this is like if you try walking while leaning on a cane or a stick in your right hand—you’ll find that your right leg immediately starts taking shorter steps.
  • The horse will not be balanced but will move weight on the diagonal, onto the right shoulder. This causes the horse to carry his head and neck to the opposite side to counteract this excess weight, resulting in concavity on the left side.
  • On the circle as the horse comes away from the wall or rail, the circle tends to get bigger on the left rein and the horse falls in on the right rein.

 

Straightening-Crooked-PB-30For more information on crookedness in horses and how to resolve related problems, check out STRAIGHTENING THE CROOKED HORSE, available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small company based on a farm in rural Vermont. 

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