Ground Work & Handling

hores body condition scores horse, Reconditioning Horse, spring horse riding, get a horse fit, horse feed change, equine fitness, horse exercise, overworked horse

As we welcome the transition from winter to spring, we are eager to get back in the saddle and start riding regularly again. Canadian winters are not sympathetic to outdoor riding, and without access to indoor facilities many horse owners have not been able to ride or exercise their horses as much as they would like during the winter months. Bringing horses back into work after their winter vacation must be done gradually by starting at a lower level and increasing the duration and intensity of workouts. At the same time, the horse’s feed should be adjusted to address his present body condition (too thin or too fat) as well as nutrient requirements for the increased workload.

jonathan field, natural horsemanship, boxing horses, equine footwork, horse shoulders, horse footwork, natural horsemanship footwork

In Part 1 of this series (Footwork to Free Up the Shoulders) I wrote about remembering what it is like to be a student, and shared some of my personal trials from joining a boxing club this past winter when I stepped into a completely unknown field. These lessons illustrate that horses benefit when their riders are more patient, just as students benefit when coaches are patient.

jonathan field, natural horsemanship, boxing horses, equine footwork, horse shoulders, horse footwork, natural horsemanship footwork

Footwork to free up the shoulders - During the past few months I’ve been teaching and developing my young horses and my program. Each year I take time to gain new skills and insights, mainly because I’m an avid student and always benefit as a clinician if I take time to become a student myself. I believe that leaders and mentors of others must never lose sight of what it feels like to be a student.

winter horse, riding in winter, training in winter, conditioning horse, keep horse fit winter, horse stretches, carrot stretch

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.

 Jonathan Field, Natural Horsemanship, Mounting a Horse, Mounting a Green Horse, Horse Behaviour

In this article I will describe the procedure I use to safely mount a horse, and point out some important things to be aware of when mounting and dismounting. Whether you are preparing your young horse for the future or developing good habits with your older horse, there are several key points every horseperson should know.

Love Your Horse, but Riding Scared?, April Clay, M.Ed., afraid of horse, fearful of your horse, anxious horse riding, overcoming horse riding stress, breaking up with your horse, make up or break up with your horse

If you have been riding for some time, chances are you have come across a mount that challenged you. Or maybe he scared you. Perhaps the horse forced you to face that very difficult question: Is this the wrong horse for me… or is it just me? What can you do when fear cripples your riding experience?

horse at fence

A common problem that many horse owners have is dealing with a horse that doesn’t want to be caught. This is particularly frustrating when the horse will allow itself to be caught some days, but not others, or will come for the barn manager but not for his owner. The reason a horse does or doesn’t want to be caught is basically about the relationship between the owner and the horse.

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Manitoba Horse Council