Eventing

Half Halt for Rhythm & Balance

With Lee Tubman - The simplest, most effective exercise to improve the horse's rhythm and balance, and thus improve the gaits themselves, is the half halt. A correctly ridden half halt encourages the hind legs to step further underneath the horse’s body.

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3 Rules to Maximize Time Off - Periods of downtime come as realistic parts of horse ownership, although how a rider uses these stretches of poor weather or busy schedules contributes profoundly to a horse’s long-term soundness and performance. Recent data from biomechanics researchers and veterinary schools shows that large vacillations in fitness can be detrimental to overall health, particularly for horses past their mid-teen years. Most notably, periods of lesser activity lasting over a month can weaken deep postural muscles and supporting soft tissue.

Falling off head first

There are many reasons, or rather, excuses for not wearing riding helmets. Yet research shows that a properly fitted, safety-approved riding helmet can drastically reduce the risk of head injury.

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Fall fairs, circuit championships, and club awards banquets signal the end of another horse show season. So how did it go? Did your shows, rodeos, or competitive trail rides meet your expectations?

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If you’ve ever been to a gym after a long absence or started up a new exercise routine as part of your New Year’s resolution, you have a good appreciation for the importance of gaining and maintaining fitness. The same concept applies to your horse when you put him back into training after giving him the winter off, after a layoff from an injury, or when starting a young horse under saddle. Unfortunately, many horse owners and trainers are concerned only with working their horses over obstacles or schooling maneuvers specific to their sport, rather than ensuring their horses are fit enough to perform such tasks.

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Seated at the head of the quiet classroom, I watched the students in the classes I teach write their Equine Behaviour and Equine Business final exams, noting the happy faces of smug recognition (“Yes, I studied that!”) and the winces (“Rats, I’d hoped that material wouldn’t be on the test”). I empathize with them. I know what it’s like to sit in the “test seat” – as a student in university and, more recently, writing judging exams. And as a competitive rider, every horse show is a test.

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At some point, most riders have wished for something like a magic pill, a solution that will instantly alleviate nagging training issues. Since that is impossible, the next best thing is an arsenal of arena routines whose execution will improve your horse. The exercises in this article will give you a looser, more balanced horse, and will create engagement without excessive effort.

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