Natural Horsemanship

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Create a Paddock Paradise - About 15 years ago, I was boarding my mare, Diva, at a private barn in Victoria, BC. The paddocks were very small and flat, with electric fence covering all the boards to prevent chewing, and Diva was on the end of the paddock row beside a forest. It was close to home, which worked for me, but Diva was deeply stressed, making it almost impossible to safely work with her or ride her.

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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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Podcast host Alexa Linton and Shannon Beahen of Humminghorse Equestrian chatted about everything from getting more nuanced about the “no,” to meditation and its role in our clarity, to incorporating consent into training, to track systems, and even got into numerology a little!

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Elsa Sinclair takes us on a journey into her potent year with her two stallions - and stars of her in-progress documentary Taming Wild Evolution - and shares how Freedom Based training, which she fondly refers to as the slowest training method in the world, is evolving even more and growing in nuance and subtly.

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Are you ready to leave your bit behind? About 15 years ago I first went bitless with my mare, Diva, after a particularly passionate foray, on my part, into natural horsemanship. Riding with a rope halter and lead rope felt a little like wearing a thong bikini to a public beach, with many people waiting to see if this get-up was actually going to do the trick once we hit the water, or in this case the trails.

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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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I recently taught a lesson for new clients who described their horse as being “evergreen,” a term that is fitting for many horses that don’t seem to progress. There are obviously many factors to consider when judging a horse’s progress, or lack thereof, including the amount of time spent working the horse, training methods employed, experience and expectations of the rider, confidence of the rider, and too many others to list.

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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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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