Schooling

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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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The challenge for us is to correctly diagnose what is actually going on so we can truly help the horse overcome their seemingly problem expression. I believe that too many horses are unfairly labeled as problems when really they are just misunderstood and mishandled.

Getting back to work after having time off can be difficult. The holiday is never quite long enough, so it’s nice to be able to ease back into the job. The same is true of horses that have had some time off.

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A turn on the haunches is similar to a western pivot or, when the speed is increased, a spin. It should look like the horse is walking his forehand around his haunches while he keeps his body fairly straight (he will have a slight bend in the direction of travel).

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Are They Good, Bad, or a Bit of Both? Colt starting competitions are wildly popular with audiences, imbuing a sense of wonder at what trainers can do with previously unhandled three-year-old horses (colts) in just a few hours. They’re judged events, where each trainer is paired with an unbroke horse and has just a few hours to start it under saddle. While the trainers work with their horses, they explain their training methods to the audience. On the third and final day of the competition, the trainers show off their horse’s skills over an obstacle course. The young horses are started by top-notch trainers, the spectators are entertained, and the trainers win prizes and kudos for their skills. So, what’s not to like?

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When it comes to cantering, riders seem to divide in two camps. In one camp are those who favour it above all else, while the other camp includes those who find it scary or unpleasant. I would like to add a third camp: riders who understand the unparalleled physiological benefits of cantering their horses. Beyond the obvious cardiovascular conditioning, cantering can improve muscle tone, symmetry, and flexibility more than other gaits. Let me explain this further, in addition to offering some tips and guidelines.

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Sadly, ponies get a lot of bad press. Even so, their reputation as being lazy, stubborn, and difficult to train, plus their seemingly inherent displays of poor behaviour, have less to do with their innate nature and more to do with a lack of training.

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Parents of horse-crazy kids and other prospective beginners often feel at a loss as to how to get involved with horses and make the best choices in an industry they know little about. At the same time, the number of participants in the equestrian community has been steadily declining in recent years, and the increase in the average age of those remaining involved points to a strong need to encourage new people to enter the horse industry.

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For generations, riders and horse lovers have been enthralled by the mystique of horsemen (and women), but many struggle to define what a “horseman” actually is. Is a horseman someone with a laundry list of skills such as starting young horses, nailing on shoes, being knowledgeable about horse care, and having the ability to train horses to the highest levels? Or is a horseman someone who lives in the moment, has mastered their emotions, and understands a horse’s mind? Perhaps a horseman embraces all of these attributes; perhaps none.

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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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