The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 2:32 am
Posts: 3270
Location: New York
From researchers at the University of Rennes:

Horses suffer from work stress, researchers find

That article is from Horsetalk in NZ.

Oh, cool, I just found the original article in an open source peer reviewed journal (am SO excited to see this -- it's so frustrating to not be able to get to real academic/scientific thought because you don't have a subscription to a really expensive journal...ruh roh, I see another major Leigh avoid-work-time-suck coming on!)

Here's the original:

Could Work Be a Source of Behavioural Disorders? A Study in Horses

The journal is called

Now, can we convince them to come and study an AND horse? Their findings about the emotional costs of competitive dressage I found particularly interesting (heck, even the fact that they were INTERESTED in the emotional aspects feels like a huge shift) -- and they quote Cook on bits and headshaking.

Interesting stuff. Feels like we really are moving forward.


"Ours is the portal of hope. Come as you are." -- Rumi

PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 3:23 am 

Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:02 pm
Posts: 1072
Location: UK Worcester/Hereford border
Leigh, great links, it also ties in nicely with the teleseminar that Inge posted about, it's free via internet online or you can use the telephone as a USA phone call. ... -hempfling

Hope they explain bitting as well: ... ?tx_ttnews[backPid]=388&cHash=563648c137
Blue tongue due to ischaemia

"When we see dressage horses with blue tongues, it's because blood circulation is reduced in the tongue. When the blood supply is reduced, tissue hypoxia ensues in the tongue, and it turns blue," says Marianne Dahl, DVM, a Danish equine welfare specialist. She elaborates:

"The explanation is in the horse's mouth and it's the curb bit and rein tension which cause the problem. As long as a horse is not bitted, the tongue is relaxed and takes up the entire oral cavity. The tongue is a very dextrous and sensitive organ. In a well fitted curb, the tongue can still be relaxed and fill out the oral cavity as long as there is no rein tension. The moment the rider puts tension into the reins, the angle of the curb to the mouth is altered, and pressure on the tongue is increased. The tongue, which consists of muscle tissue, becomes tense and may be flattened."

"If the tension is high - which is to say that there is a marked change in the angle between the shank of the bit and the bars of the horse's mouth - and if the pressure is held for a prolonged period, ischaemia and hypoxia may follow. The tongue will become discoloured and turn blue or purple. If the chain on the curb is tight, the pressure on the tongue will be stronger, and if the nose band is tight, so the horse can't open its mouth, the pressure on the tongue will be even stronger still."

I think this video is helpful in explaining to those still impressed by the dressage diva's, how hyperflexion damages the horse and why you should not attempt to emulate this style with your own beloved horses.

Susie xx

PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 5:13 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:10 am
Posts: 3688
Location: Pacific Northwest U.S.
How very much this makes me appreciate what we are doing with Bonnie.

As much as is possible Bonnie is free.

New challenges are presented to her gradually and with intervals long enough that she can focus on the new tasks involved without overlap of the prior challenge.

As a former mental health worker I cannot help but be attentive to her development socially and emotionally.

In weaning, both as to less suckling and more separation from mother Altea, it is so satisfying to, when Altea is taken 30 yards or so away, and then Bonnie is released from her stall, to see Bonnie run wildly bucking and kicking to her mother for her company and her milk. Bonnie get's to shake her head and really act out her frustration and her subsequent satisfaction of finding her mother.

I know from my former work this is the healthy way to learn separation from the parent caregiver.

Bonnie is encouraged to explore on her own, yet with Altea available nearby if she needs to return to her to get her emotional batteries charged. So she is brave and curious, but still retains her natural horse instinct to return to "the herd" when anxious. She always celebrates any return to "the herd," of Altea her mother, and we are now included in that.

If she is off in the woods and I whistle the dinner or come call out to her she delights in running through the woods leaping over brush and limbs to come to get her kisses and treats.

If I knew of ways to make her happier I would certainly do them.


Because I, for many years, over 20 in fact, used horses for my livelihood. Less asking, less playing, and much more "business." Never cruel, but always in control.

Bonnie gets what I did not give them, and reminds me that though many of them I loved, I did not let myself become too attached to. Bonnie is my thanks to Poncho, Sheba, Koko Hanohano, Harvester, Grant's Pass, Haumea Ai, Heather Miss, Bucky, and all the other horses that served me so very well. She carries her burden of thanks very lightly and well, I think.

Now if only we humans can awaken to the information science is giving us, and people such as the people of AND offer to the horse world.

Nettlepatch Farm

Love is Trust, trust is All
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 2:00 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 11:57 am
Posts: 1983
Location: provincie Utrecht
when i have more time i go read it. thanks!

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