Reining

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3 Rules to Maximize Time Off - Periods of downtime come as realistic parts of horse ownership, although how a rider uses these stretches of poor weather or busy schedules contributes profoundly to a horse’s long-term soundness and performance. Recent data from biomechanics researchers and veterinary schools shows that large vacillations in fitness can be detrimental to overall health, particularly for horses past their mid-teen years. Most notably, periods of lesser activity lasting over a month can weaken deep postural muscles and supporting soft tissue.

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If you’ve ever been to a gym after a long absence or started up a new exercise routine as part of your New Year’s resolution, you have a good appreciation for the importance of gaining and maintaining fitness. The same concept applies to your horse when you put him back into training after giving him the winter off, after a layoff from an injury, or when starting a young horse under saddle. Unfortunately, many horse owners and trainers are concerned only with working their horses over obstacles or schooling maneuvers specific to their sport, rather than ensuring their horses are fit enough to perform such tasks.

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At some point, most riders have wished for something like a magic pill, a solution that will instantly alleviate nagging training issues. Since that is impossible, the next best thing is an arsenal of arena routines whose execution will improve your horse. The exercises in this article will give you a looser, more balanced horse, and will create engagement without excessive effort.

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The perspective expressed in this article is based on what I look for in a reining horse. There are many conformation points to consider, but I am focusing on a few key points that truly make a difference in the form-to-function of our reining horses.

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If you have been riding for some time, chances are you have come across a mount that challenged you. Or maybe he scared you. Perhaps the horse forced you to face that very difficult question: Is this the wrong horse for me… or is it just me? What can you do when fear cripples your riding experience?

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It is common knowledge that a horse must achieve optimal physical fitness in order to deliver a peak performance, but what kind of impact does psychological condition have on equine performance? In a competition environment, equine athletes in any discipline may show symptoms of stress, but to what degree does the expression of that stress affect the quality of a jumping round, dressage test, reining pattern, etc.?

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Experienced riders know that riding is risky business. Falls and other horse-related injuries are a real possibility, and even top riders cannot prevent all riding-related accidents.

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