Trail

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We’ve all had a horse that was hesitant to go forward with ease and willingness. I want to share the story of one such colt I started recently, and some of the strategies I employed to help him “free up.” These techniques work well for horses of all ages. This article is ultimately about rider self-awareness, timing, and avoiding the overuse of pressure, which unintentionally dulls the horse. Take special note of the tips for success, and the pitfalls many riders face when their horse is dull to their aids.

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“Let’s take a break here,” Rob LaFrance called from behind me. It was late May, 2019 and three of us were riding a 60-kilometre stretch of the historic Collins Overland Telegraph Trail in central British Columbia, which hadn’t been ridden in its entirety in at least half a century. The trip was an opportunity to ride along a piece of history, experience the challenges of those who had traveled before us, and celebrate the reopening of the trail.

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Adventure racing - navigating over an unmarked wilderness course where the fastest person wins — has been a recognized sport for about 30 years. But horseback adventure racing is still evolving, with international race organizers determining their own rules.

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When you have finally found the perfect horse to take you to the winner’s circle, it’s tough to realize that he or she might be getting old. Many horses are now competing well into their late teens and early twenties, especially in certain disciplines such as dressage or show jumping where it takes many years of training to reach an elite level of competition. However, from a veterinary perspective, horses are considered geriatric as they reach the age of 15 to 20 years, which is when their physiological functions start to decline. The management of these horses becomes crucial to keep them competing at their best.

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Let's Talk - On May 25, 2020, 46-year-old Black American George Floyd was killed while in police custody, after it was alleged he passed a counterfeit bill. A Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd lay face down, handcuffed, and pleading repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe. Floyd ultimately succumbed. The tragedy struck a chord and protests flared against police brutality and racism — I can’t breathe their rallying cry, leading to an ongoing resurgence of the global Black Lives Matter movement.

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If mules are so wonderful, why do most people ride horses? If even half the heralded testimony from mule owners is true, we should all be riding mules. But wait… how gallant would Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger have looked perched atop mules?
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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.

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