Eventing

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Purpose and performance of a foundational exercise - Certain exercises in a horse’s athletic development serve as a foundational skill set and a remedial tool later on. Leg-yield is exactly this kind of exercise. It offers valuable physiological benefits that improve a novice horse’s balance while also resolving specific impediments to an advanced horse’s quality of movement. It is the kind of tool that tunes up a number of shortcomings in how a horse is carrying himself.

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With Sarah Bradley - “Straightness refers to how the horse positions his body, and his ability to use both sides of his body evenly, providing even propulsion from both hind legs and carrying even weight on both front legs. It's about the rider’s ability to place the horse’s body on the line the rider wishes to travel. A horse is straight when the bird’s eye view shows the horse’s spine as being directly on the line of travel. Thus, a horse on a circle is ‘straight’ when it compresses the inside of its body and lengthens the outside, so that its spine follows the circle.”

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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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With Brian Morton - Collection can be defined as the shortening of the horse’s outline and stride with increased impulsion and engagement from the hind end. If you are not able to shorten your horse’s stride, you will never be able to get a horse to fit a stride into a line that is set short. And, if you lose the impulsion when you shorten the stride, you will never be able to produce a powerful round jump-off a short distance.

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Why and when to introduce your horse to lateral work - While they used to be predominantly the domain of prancing dressage horses, lateral movements like shoulder-in and haunches-in offer unrivaled conditioning effects for almost any equine athlete. Exercise science has shown them to be on par with gymnastic routines like hill repeats and cavalletti routines in terms of muscle recruitment, with a bonus of altering motor sensory patterns. Below I will explain how and why you might consider incorporating them.

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Function follows form, according to Dr. Trisha Dowling. It’s the conformation or structure of a horse that ultimately determines its athletic function.

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We’ve all had a horse that was hesitant to go forward with ease and willingness. I want to share the story of one such colt I started recently, and some of the strategies I employed to help him “free up.” These techniques work well for horses of all ages. This article is ultimately about rider self-awareness, timing, and avoiding the overuse of pressure, which unintentionally dulls the horse. Take special note of the tips for success, and the pitfalls many riders face when their horse is dull to their aids.

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With Liz Ashton - If your horse seems reluctant to go forward, if his body feels rigid and unyielding to your aids, if his jumping style is flat or hollow, your horse may be in need of some suppling. But at least you’re not alone – the stiff horse is one of the most common rider complaints out there.

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When you have finally found the perfect horse to take you to the winner’s circle, it’s tough to realize that he or she might be getting old. Many horses are now competing well into their late teens and early twenties, especially in certain disciplines such as dressage or show jumping where it takes many years of training to reach an elite level of competition. However, from a veterinary perspective, horses are considered geriatric as they reach the age of 15 to 20 years, which is when their physiological functions start to decline. The management of these horses becomes crucial to keep them competing at their best.

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Let's Talk - On May 25, 2020, 46-year-old Black American George Floyd was killed while in police custody, after it was alleged he passed a counterfeit bill. A Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd lay face down, handcuffed, and pleading repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd ultimately succumbed. The tragedy struck a chord and protests flared against police brutality and racism — I can’t breathe their rallying cry, leading to an ongoing resurgence of the global Black Lives Matter movement.

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