Schooling

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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.

With today’s horse world being highly recreational, there are many horses that don’t have to earn a living. These recreational horses are often very well cared for and sometimes even coddled. I will not use the term “spoiled” as I think a spoiled horse is one that has become a serious problem for his owner. I will say, though, that some of these pampered horses are well on their way to developing “princess complex.”

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Most of us intend for our daily rides to improve our horse at some level, either by adding to his physical conditioning or progressing his training skills. But whether or not your horse actually makes these gains often comes down to the amount of time you spend on each phase of the ride. The format of your ride determines the outcome of physical improvement.

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By incorporating lots of variety into our lives with horses, we create purpose. Purpose gives meaning to the everyday exercises that, if overdone, can make a horse sour. But with variety and purpose, we and our horses can both build confidence and have a lot of fun!

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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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Ph.D. candidate Lara Genik and Dr. C. Meghan McMurtry from the University of Guelph’s Department of Psychology conducted a survey at the 2015 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (RAWF) in Toronto, looking into the prevalence and impact of less studied painful incidents among children while handling and riding horses. Genik’s research survey set out to understand common painful incidents associated with riding and to gain insight that could potentially lead to intervention through safety and educational programming.

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What does your horse do for a living? Does he need a change from your routine to keep him mentally fresh and physically rested, or does he need a challenge mentally and physically to make him safe to be around? In this article I will concentrate on horses that are working regularly and horses that are seldom working. Both of these scenarios can be detrimental to the horse’s mental and physical well-being.

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