Schooling

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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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Although there is no shortage of year round American show circuits to choose from, here in Canada, during the winter months the show season comes to a halt for most people. The benefit is that it gives us an opportunity to assess our goals and make whatever changes are necessary.

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Stability Before Strength - Balanced muscular development cannot happen without first achieving a body that can stay stable throughout movement. In other words, a horse that is wiggling around trying to find balance, or one that has found balance by adopting a crooked posture, cannot develop strength in the ways that lead to better performance. Before a horse can add power to his locomotive muscles, he needs to find joint and limb stability while moving in his basic gaits.

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By Will Clinging - When I started out with horses it was as a working cowboy. The horses I rode all belonged to the ranch I worked for and I thought because I made my living on the back of a horse that I was a good rider. The horses I rode were for the most part considered “broke.”

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By Jodie Santarossa, DVM - When it comes to training related injuries, again, look for obvious reasons first. Most training related injuries are common and very preventable provided there is an understanding of the biomechanical demands of the particular discipline; meticulous attention to the horse’s feet, teeth, tack, and food, which are the pillars upon elite equine athletes are built; and a collaborative, integrated team approach to building and developing individualized training and maintenance programs.

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There is always a reason when things go wrong, and we have to accept at least half of the responsibility. Remember it is we who are asking for certain acceptable behaviour; if we have not defined what is actually acceptable then the horse is right to be wrong.

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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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