Natural Horsemanship

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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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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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Fall fairs, circuit championships, and club awards banquets signal the end of another horse show season. So how did it go? Did your shows, rodeos, or competitive trail rides meet your expectations? For the majority of horse owners, the answer to this question will likely be no. Stuff happens. And so we look toward the next year. But with chilly fall and winter weather looming, we all need some goals to motivate us to get off the couch and out to the arena on those cold nights!

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Head injuries are the most common reason for admission to hospital or death among riders. Sobering statistics reveal the high percentage of equine-related accidents resulting in traumatic brain injury, and helmets have been associated with reducing the risk of traumatic brain injury by as much as 50 percent. Yet many riders still do not wear a helmet.

Horse Personality Profiling

When starting to work with a new horse, I am never sure what I’m faced with. In order to make my training time with that particular horse more efficient, I need to know more about his personality. Several factors influence how teachable a horse might be.

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When Tracey Klettl is on the back of a horse on a beautiful woodland trail, her mind is always clearer and she feels so much more at peace. “I always hope that people feel that same peace that I do,” says Klettl, co-owner of Painted Warriors Ranch, located in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies about an hour-and-a-half northwest of Calgary, Alberta. Painted Warriors creates authentic outdoor experiences from an Indigenous perspective, based on Klettl’s Cree and Mohawk heritage and on the Ojibway heritage of Klettl’s partner and business co-owner Tim Mearns. Guests learn a variety of skills, from riding to natural navigation, medicinal plant identification, and backcountry basics.

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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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This issue we will discuss the surprisingly controversial topic of movement. As I consider this subject, an experience from long ago springs to mind. I was invited to ride a dressage horse who was a bodywork client, actively competing in Young Riders and very expensive.

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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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As a trainer and clinician I am fortunate to work with a wide variety and a large number of horses. As a result, I see different patterns of equine behaviour emerge.

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