Dressage

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You are who your friends are. That adage can apply to horses, too. How we treat them will often be reflected right back at us - for good or bad. Sometimes the difference between a harsh cue and an appropriate one can be subtle. Pressure can be effective, but intensity and timing can make all the difference.

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The practice of braiding a horse’s mane and tail has a functional history dating back many centuries. One of the earliest reasons for braiding the mane was to keep it from becoming tangled in riding or farming equipment, or in the weapons of mounted hunters and soldiers. In ancient folklore, it was thought that fairies would sneak into the stables at night to tie “elf knots” in the mane, using them as stirrups to mount and ride the horses.

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Where Should You Start? By Jec A. Ballou. When spring finally arrives, the sunny riding season ahead can greet riders with both excitement and anxiety. Where do I start, you might wonder as you calculate how unfit your horse has become from a winter of being off work. How long will it take to ease him back to fitness? What sorts of exercises and timelines should I use? In this article, I’ll answer these questions plus offer a simple schedule in addition to some rules you never want to break.

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I learned the fundamentals of equitation to the repetitive tune of Heads up! Heels down! while trotting around and around the riding school arena. I acquired the hows of riding in those early years, but my whys were typically answered with tradition: That’s just the way it’s done. Thinking back, if I’d grasped the reasoning behind the technical skills of riding, I’d have been more motivated to persevere in those drills without stirrups!

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Many youth dream of becoming horse industry professionals — training horses, coaching riders, managing a stable or riding professionally at top level. Significant barriers stymie those attempting to pursue success, regardless of their talent and enthusiasm. There’s no streamlined path to follow that develops the needed horsemanship, business knowledge, training, and coaching skills required of professional riders, barn managers, and coaches.

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The Equestrian Canada (EC) Coach Status program is part of a collective commitment to safety for human and equine athletes and excellence in instruction and coaching. Standards for earning and maintaining coaching designations help protect athletes, coaches, and our industry.

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Due to its effectiveness in helping the horse carry his body with good form, the longe cavesson is arguably one of the most useful pieces of equipment to own. Yet, only a surprisingly small number of riders who know about it. While early depictions from the 16th century refer mostly to its value in lateral poll flexion, its benefits for groundwork extend to a horse’s entire body. For anyone who performs groundwork it is an indispensable tool, as I will explain. Common misalignments of horses during groundwork include a twisted poll that comes from a handler using a line attached under the chin, or one-sided pressure on the bit when using a bridle. The alignment and state of positive — or negative — tension in the poll directly affects the rest of the body.

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Define your goals to develop a training plan - While hill training is widely accepted as important for building strength, its actual benefits rely on answering the question: What is the goal for this individual horse?

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Many classical dressage masters from the past often praised the merits of long schooling sessions at only the walk. This kind of training refines muscle recruitment, releases tension stored in poor postural habits, and stimulates the slow-twitch fibers used for stabilizing the skeleton. In other words, there is big value in workouts at the walk. And note how I have used the term workouts, since that is how you should think of them. These are purposeful sessions, not strolls.

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Do you ever wander away from the mounting block, still adjusting your stirrups, pondering what to work on in today’s schooling session? Does your coach ever ask (I always do) what you’ve been working on since your last lesson, and you admit mostly logging miles on your horse’s odometer?

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