Dressage

It is a simple enough goal: The more time a horse spends in the correct alignment and balance, the more firmly good habits form. But putting this into practice during our daily training is often not as straightforward as it seems.

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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. The horse’s big, fleshy gymnastic muscles that engage as we school him are not the ones where habitual patterns, sometimes called “muscle memories,” are stored. Nor are they the ones responsible for joint and posture stability. In fact, they carry a low supply of nerves and have, therefore, a weak relationship with the horse’s neurosensory system. Working these muscles is not the fastest way to instate new patterns and habits.

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Why and when to introduce your horse to lateral work - While they used to be predominantly the domain of prancing dressage horses, lateral movements like shoulder-in and haunches-in offer unrivaled conditioning effects for almost any equine athlete. Exercise science has shown them to be on par with gymnastic routines like hill repeats and cavalletti routines in terms of muscle recruitment, with a bonus of altering motor sensory patterns. Below I will explain how and why you might consider incorporating them.

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At Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games - Welcome to our third report on the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018 (WEG) currently underway in Mill Spring, North Carolina. The 13-day event, which began on September 11, has seen more than its share of challenges due to Hurricane Florence, and on September 15, two horses pulled up lame during the Mars-sponsored cross-country phase of the three-day event competition and received immediate veterinary treatment.

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Topline is the term used to describe the muscle coverage over the top of the horse’s neck, withers, back, loin, and croup. Because topline is muscle, a horse with a good topline will be stronger and more athletic, and will present a more pleasing appearance. What should we feed to develop the perfect topline? First we must understand that the shape of the back can vary greatly from one individual to another, and so the topline will vary in length and in curvature, with some relationship between the two. Horses with toplines that are sunken in over their withers, concave along the back and loin, or dished in around their hip bones and hindquarters will have diminished strength in those areas.

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You are who your friends are. That adage can apply to horses, too. How we treat them will often be reflected right back at us - for good or bad. Sometimes the difference between a harsh cue and an appropriate one can be subtle. Pressure can be effective, but intensity and timing can make all the difference.

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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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