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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What is the drive line? In this excerpt from my book, I will explore the drive line and how important it is for you to understand where it is on the horse’s anatomy and how the horse responds to it when working at liberty, or when the horse is loose in the round pen.

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Dragging a Log - Helping horses build their confidence in unique ways can prepare them for the unexpected. At any age or with any discipline, I encourage riders to find ways to challenge themselves and their horses by trying new things and teaching them that they can trust you when they feel worried. I see so many horses that are incredibly sheltered by their owners and, as a result, become so fragile that any little thing causes them too much anxiety.

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Have you ever watched someone riding along on a nice, relaxed, rocking-horse canter and dreamed of one day having your horse canter like that? It’s happened to me. The image of seeing this “dream canter” for the first time remains clear in my mind to this day.

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There are some important concepts to understand when actively helping your horse to become calm and relaxed under your leadership. To actively change behaviour in your horse is to be a part of the process and requires all of your attention with an attitude of empathy towards what your horse is going through.

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With the green horse there is also a safety factor that is not always present with a schooled horse. If we do too much the potential for the green horse to react violently is very real, yet to continue learning there must be a challenge to improve every day. The amount of improvement will be different each day, but there must be some.

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I wrote about how many horses are developing different behaviour patterns because of the affection and lack of effective discipline they receive. I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of people I’ve heard from who recognize that their horse fits into this scenario. Recognizing the problem is the first step in resolving it.

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One AC from Magic Powder Company - for the non-sweating horse