Beginner

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Contact with a horse’s mouth via the bit is a generally accepted principle when riding or driving. But a horse’s mouth is incredibly sensitive and many riders around the world are successfully guiding their steeds without bits. Where did the idea of contact come from, what is it, and do riders really need contact with a horse’s mouth to convince their horse to perform?

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Simple Exercises and Routines to Reprogram Dysfunctional Movement - As tempting as it is to use our riding skills and training expertise when teaching a horse to carry his body differently or when rehabbing post-layoff, this actually slows the process down. Somehow, many of us equestrians missed this crucial fact during our educations.

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At Eagle Feather Riding, the horses know when their riders are on their way, and come running to greet them when they arrive.

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We breathe more than 20,000 times a day. Most of the time, we don’t give it much thought, since we do it automatically and all seems to go well… except when it doesn’t.

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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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A hot humid day. One rider. One horse. Both are exercising at a moderate level. Who is more likely to overheat? It might surprise you to learn that your horse gets hotter much faster than you and is more susceptible to the negative effects of heat stress. Prof. Michael Lindinger, an animal and exercise physiologist at the University of Guelph, explains: “It only takes 17 minutes of moderate intensity exercise in hot, humid weather to raise a horse’s temperature to dangerous levels. That’s three to ten times faster than in humans. Horses feel the heat much worse than we do.”

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One of the simplest ways to improve athletic output is to ride your horse at different speeds within every gait throughout each week. Moving through a range of gears stimulates the neuromuscular system to create fuller metabolic function within muscles.

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Keys to an effective horse training session. I’ve trained a lot of horses. After nailing up my sign as a “professional horse trainer” several decades ago, I learned quickly that overhead is high in the horse business so you’d better make some hay if you’re going to pay your bills. Consequently, I rode many horses each day, breaking young ones and tuning up show horses.

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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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I smiled, walking past the airport hat kiosk, en route to a judging adventure at an exhibition in Eastern Canada. I’d be wearing several hats and judging a kaleidoscope of classes at the show — equitation, road hack, reining, Western riding, working hunter, pleasure driving, driven dressage, conformation, showmanship, miniature horses… and more!

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