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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 5:43 am 

Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:35 am
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Location: U.S..A. Michigan
This is a subject that has been on my mind almost since I joined NHE over a year ago. It was not new to me that riding young, unprepared horses with poor fitting tack was going to do damage to their backs. Recently newer information coming out seems to indicate that despite all our best efforts if we are spending more than 10-15 min. on our horses back we are causing them pain and doing lasting damage. This has been distressing to me and I am very interested in getting more feedback and information on this topic.
Just today the new issue of Horses For Life came out, and with it an article by Stormy May about the horses back. This article is reprinted from one she wrote on the NHE website. It would seem from the facts presented there that no matter what the type of saddle or how good of condition your horse is in, their backs cannot sustain being ridden for more then a few minutes.
I have to wonder though about the horses I have seen over the years that did not seem like they have suffered physically from being ridden. The horses that greet their owners at the gate seemingly eager and willing to head out down the trail. How do we explain this? Are they hiding their pain?
My feeling has been that if you don't start horses young , and give them time to mature, then you work at developing them in hand to strengthen their backs and then do your best to make sure you have a truely proper fitting saddle that the experience of riding can be pleasurable for both horse and rider. But maybe I am wrong.

I have not touched on the emotional issues surrounding riding our horses because I feel that people here at AND are already very aware of buuilding a relationship with their horses and being aware of their actions. This is already a group of people who don't look at horses as purely a means of midless enjoyment for themselves.
This discussion for me is mostly about the physical aspect of riding and wether or not we are causing pain to our beloved friends.
Thank you to eveyone who shares their thoughts and knowledge.

Sincerely,

Leah
P.S. I am tired and ready for bed, so I am sorry if my thoughts are not expressed as well as they could be. This has been on my mind for awhile and I just wanted to at least get the conversation started.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 6:23 am 
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I think the motto should be, and is, with AND, "ever mindful."

This consideration you challenge us with is one I hope we all continue to ask ourselves and each other.

Mentioning the vulnerability of the younger horse brings to mind that there are a great many horses that show no sign of haven't broken down in the back after many many years of fairly heavy use.

A recent example, a 37 year old record setting (for total miles) endurance horse, who, as you describe some horses, seems eager and willing to saddle up and hit the trail.

I offer this as solace.

Many of our associations have the potential to do harm. Take having children, for an example. :lol:

Owning a dog, cat, bird.

Marriage.

Just having a significant other.

We can find a great many examples of harm being done in those circumstance.

Yet we chose to do them.

Why?

Because of the potential payoff for both parties.

What does a horse get from associating with us?

Many, if we turned them all loose, would simply starve or be eaten.

We have bred them away from their wild abilities. We in the U.S. have a long history of turning horses loose, or simply having them go missing. We assume they survived in the wild, because some did. But how many didn't?

If we are going to keep them as companions we owe them more than just feed and shelter. We also owe them our companionship and a relationship that is interesting and rewarding.

Horses are constant learners. They are curious and playful, for the most part, if they have the chance.

I wasn't attracted to AND because I saw more effective ways to dominate a horse and get him to do more interesting and spectacular behaviors.

But I was by the possibility, the potential, to be with him in ways that were spectacular and interesting for HIM.

Look at what AND horses are doing. Without spurs, whips, threats, or dominance. Just with companionship and play.

Riding can be more play.

Years ago (about 1960 or 61) doing a great deal of training of horses, I developed a way of removing pressure, suddenly and dramatically.

I got off the horse as a matter of training protocol.

And I did it frequently. I coupled it, because I was a trainer, with reinforcing desired behavior, and it most certainly was, typical of the times in the horseworld, straight up "pressure release" method.

I did it because I saw it as a logical next step. But it, and the work I did preceding it as I developed as a trainer pointed me down what I thought was a dead end path.

I know now that the eagerness and energy I could get horses to put into their work, their performance, was in response to my showing them I could play. I could get off, walk about, talk with them, let them examine things.

Thus they linked riding with my getting off. How clever I thought I was. But I missed something very important. I had passed over a threshold, one it would not cross again for nearly 40 years.

The horse began to train me.

I came to care more about the horse, and some specific ones, than I cared about their performance.

I could not shake that, and I knew my professional life as a horseman was pretty much over. My very last job was mostly hanging out with a band of broodmares, looking after them, caring for the two stallions in the program, and one more special thing that put finished my career.

I had a 4 year old QH stallion I'd taken in trade. And he became my mentor.

I reached a point where I stopped performance outcome based work with him entirely. I stopped riding him. We played, and we chased each other like wild horses. In the paddock and in the pastures.

I had a lot of regrets at the time. I knew I was a rising person in the horseworld. I was learning, before those many long quiet months just hanging out with Koko, to get performances from horses that were out at the cutting edge.

But there was nowhere for ME to go personally. Not morally, not ethically, with the horse.

The last horse I trained back then was in 1970. 38 years ago. And that one I regretted doing, even if it was for my dear daughter. We sold it.

I did not ride, or as far as I can recall even touch a horse until a year ago September.

I am perfectly willing to find through AND that horses cannot be ridden without pain and injury, and never ride again myself. But I'll still be what I call now, Servant to the Horse.

And hope that he will accept me as a friend. This is more important than riding.

There is plenty in that for me. I don't really need to ride ever again.

My job now is to find others and teach them about this discovery.

Donald

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~~~~~~~~~
So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 5:51 pm 

Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:35 am
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Location: U.S..A. Michigan
Thank you for your insights Donald. As usual your posts give me alot to think about. And as a side note can I add my name to the "Donald should write a book"list, you really do have alot to share with others.
I agree with what you wrote. I personally have only ridden my mare about 7-8 times in the last year, and only for 10-15 min. at a time. She has been struggling to come back from IR and I have not felt she had the health for much riding. Also I have not had anything close to an acceptable saddle, so i put riding on the backburner.
I have loved spending this time just being with my girl. Long walks and learning SATS. I feel our relationship is so much better. But i would not be being completely honest if I said I never cared if I rode again. I enjoy riding but now I want it to be on the horses terms.
Like others have expressed there has seemed to me to be times when Bonita enjoyed are rides,when everything seemed right and she seemed content and happy.Maybe I am just putting my feelings on her and fooling myself.

Anyways, I am going to add some of the comments from Stormy Mays article here. I hope I am not breaking any rules if I am I hope one of the moderators can tell me and I will remove it.

She writes:One of the reasons that some of this information might seem to be "new" is that it wasn't until around 1992 that the "Saddletech" saddle pressure testing pad was developed. These pads, and other similar devices more recently developed, include sensitive sensors that can measure the amount of pressure between horse and saddle. These pressure-sensing technologies led to a flurry of interesting scientific studies in the equine world. When this information was combined with other studies of mammalian muscle tissue, it all suddenly pointed to a huge dilemma. In the Journal of Veterinary Science Volume 14 No. 11, 1994, well known veterinarian and saddle fit expert Dr. Joyce Harman reported the results of a study using the Saddletech pad. She wrote:

"For the purposes of this study, saddles with pressures of up to 1.93 psi were graded an excellent fit, between 2.0 and 3.38 psi without persistent pressure points were graded fair, and saddles that exceeded 3.4 psi or had persistent pressure points throughout the session were graded poor. These numbers were derived from preliminary data indicating that it was difficult to find an English saddle with pressures below 0.75 psi, which is the highest pressure found in the capillary bed. Pressures that exceed 0.75 psi will close down the blood flow in the arterial capillary bed."


Also this:So what does it mean if the blood flow is shut down? This is what happens on a small scale when we press on our skin and it turns white, or if we sit in an awkward position for a longer amount of time, and we experience our leg or arm "going to sleep". The author Mary Wanless writes in her book "For the Good of the Horse", "Perhaps one of the horse's saving graces is that squeezing the blood out of his tissues causes pain for the first ten to fifteen minutes of a ride, and then his back goes numb."

So until we learn how to levitate saddles, even a saddle with an excellent fit, the best air/foam/wool stuffed panels and an average weight rider, will have pressures which are more than twice what it takes to shut down the blood flow within the muscles. Dr. Harman goes on to state that in studies of canine and human muscles, sustained pressure of only 0.68 psi for over two hours causes significant tissue damage.

So based on this info. are we doing damage everytime we saddle our horses and sit on there backs? Is there anyway to counteract this?
The article did not go on to say what Dr. Harman suggested we do about this problem. I know she does not advocate not riding horses anymore. So i am not sure what her conclusions were.
I realize that some people here have decided to not ride horses anymore for moral or ethical reasons. Others feel this is still fine for them and their horses in varying degrees.
What I am trying to get to the bottom of is are we physically doing damage or not?
I am thinking about contacting Dr. Harman and asking her what her conclusions were after her studies, if I get any answers I will be sure to post then here.
In the meantime I hope more people will weigh in on this topic.

Thanks leah


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:06 pm 

Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:35 am
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Location: U.S..A. Michigan
Well for those who are interested I have some more info. that may be of interest.
I just spoke with David Gendick of About The horse. He works with Deb Bennet, and is a maker of custom saddles.
I asked him his opinion on this topic, interstingly he had read Stormy's article and was familiar with Dr. Harman's studies.
These are some of his thoughts. He said that basically Dr. Harmanns findings were correct, but the problem was also the types of saddles being used in the testing and riders , who to be blunt really did not know how to ride. They were riding strung out horses who did not know how to collect themselves and carry a rider.
So he agreed and disagreed with the findings. He agreed that the majority of people are riding horses in poor fitting saddles , and that they don't really undersatnd how to be a light balenced rider. Also not understanding the importance of the straightness of the horse. SO this does cause damage to the muscles of the horse like the study found.
But he does feel ifall these things are in place horses can learn to carry humans comfortably w/o damage to their bodies.


Interseting stuff, i need to go do more thinking and reading.

Leah


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:34 pm 

Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:35 am
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Location: U.S..A. Michigan
Dr Deb Bennetts forum has a topic 'Improved Poll for The sitting position'. You have to join to see the photos, but its a very intresting thread.

Leah
http://esiforum.mywowbb.com/forum1/188.html


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:27 pm 
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I think from personal experience that there are many variable's to riding. My weight of 50 kg is as much as Evita's weight gain when she is on richer grass for example. But I'm very strict on riding... heavy people can not ride my horses.
I know Evita likes groundwork much much more than riding. I'm really not doing her a favour riding her. But as long as it doesn't hurt her, I will ride her every once in a while anyway... and that is egocentric I know.. but I too don't like to clean out her stable every day ;) but it doesn't hurt me :D
I guess also because the riding is still in the very basic stadium she will have more fun when we can do more, like exercises with me in the saddle and riding outside.

Evita's grandmother is 30+ now and has a really hollow back and is never ridden in her life, she only has had filly's every once in a while. I must say that 30 year old Atreyu looks far more in shape while she is really 'torn apart' in riding... many injuries and no warming up or cooling down.
Well, I don't know... but when a horse is able to tell you what is comfortable (like Evita just throws me off when she had a sore back) you can just see what is best, I guess.
I would love to read the article!

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:07 pm 

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Location: U.S..A. Michigan
That was one of the points I forgot to mention, so I am glad you brought it up Bianca. It definatly needs to be taken into consideration the size of the rider and horse.
That is interesting about Evitas grandmothers back even though she was never ridden.
From the research I am doing it seems that as usual with so many things in life there are alot of factors.
Here are some I have found, I would love it if people would add to the list:
age of the horse when being started
prep work to get the horse ready physically and mentally to carry a rider
saddle design and fit, this would include placement of the rider on the back (please see Davids thread at Deb Bennetts site)
skill of the rider (this is a tricky one though because how does someone become a good rider w/o practice?)
undersatnding of horse biomechanics and the undersatnding of the need for straightness in the horse
The last one I was thinking of is a little more involved, at least from my perspective. It is understanding collection in its various forms. I think there was a thread on this here, or maybe it was NHE. I remember Sue (windhorse) made some good points about AN horses being in an extreme collection , and while horses cannot sustain that level of collection for long periods of time they can still be collected and useing their bodies correctly. The point being that trail riding
with a strung out horse is not good for the horse. If they need a true break then get off and let them relax without a rider.
Anyways, I see that alot of people have ben viewing this thread, so I sincerely hope more will join in the discussion and share their thoughts and experiences.
Just a final note of Thanks to Josepha, Miriam, Bianca for creating a place where people can come and share and learn, and feel safe to do so.
:applause:
Leah


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:40 pm 
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Hi Leah:

I think this is a fascinating topic, and I'm very glad that you've started the conversation.

I have lots to learn with this, no doubt!

But -- one completely anecdotal story:

I'm working with Circe, my three and a half year old filly. Following Deb Bennett's (and other's) advice, I will not begin any "real" riding with her until she's at least four. And even then, we'll go slowly.

I am, however, a couple of times a month, sitting on her as a passenger (usually bareback, and occasionally in a treeless saddle) as she grazes.

She truly doesn't seem distressed by this at all. She is quick to let me know if something bothers her, and this truly isn't. We started (under the direction of my former trainer) to work in a more disciplined way a few months ago, in the arena, using cues, and she and I both rebelled against this! :-)

She started to get very uncertain about whether she was willing to be mounted, and would freeze, not wanting to move forward. I was not happy about this -- my other horse Stardust has big resistance to being ridden because of old pain issues, and I wanted to make sure that riding was being presented as something that was potentially fun.

I didn't think I was seeing a pain response as much as a move towards pressure for both of us -- but I wasn't sure.

So, I pulled way back. I didn't get on her again at all for a while and then committed to trying our "riding while grazing" strategy, to see if that made a difference. She can step away from me (I'm not holding her when I mount her) if she wants -- and she chooses not to.

She is very relaxed. I know there are some folks here who are concerned about bareback riding (with good reason!) but I've wanted to not have anything between us as I've begun this so I could feel if she had tension in her back or was hollowing it out -- I think this is one of the challenges with saddles, as they can help mask our awareness of how their backs are feeling/moving. When I sit on her like this, I feel absolutely no tension in her back.

(I also am wondering aloud if doing this while she's grazing helps to allow her to keep her back muscles relaxed ??-- she's not worried, with her head up in the air, back muscles hollowing...)

I'm fairly light (about 130 pounds) and she has a well padded, well muscled back. Unlike Stardust, I can't feel her spine when I sit on her -- or even when I stroke her back (Stardust doesn't have great back muscle development -- he's not in great shape right now, but even when he's in better shape, those muscles along his spine never get very large).

So -- with Circe, it sure doesn't feel like I'm doing damage. I certainly don't think I'm causing her pain, as she is pretty quick to tell me when something is bothering her (and she really doesn't like feeling constrained). Of course, these sessions are also short...

Like you, one of the things that's changed for me in working/playing with my horses in this way is that my time with them is not defined by riding. I still very much want to ride, but have discovered that it's one of many things I can do with my horses when I spend time with them.

Just my couple of pennies worth of thoughts at the moment!

:-)

Leigh

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:42 am 
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I think too that each horse is substantially different- if I wrap my ankle it is hard to make it tight enough to support it ad not cut off my circulation and get tingly. My husband can pull and elastic bandage seriously tight, wear it all day, and it doesn't bother him at all.

Also, are the arterial capillaries capable of resisting pressure?? If you ride five minutes a day for a few weeks, than ten, then twelve, etc, can the capillaries become stronger???

There was an article in Horse and Rider magazine about 2 yo futurities. One trainer said that in his experience (he's worked with hunders of futurity horses) that starting them early does not seem to cause any damage (he has one horse he unknowlingly started at 14 months old and the horse is now in his late twenties with no signs of wear and tear!!) What DOES cause damage is starting them quckly. This makes total sense to me since starting them slowly gives them a chance to build the muscle and even bone (and maybe capillary resistance????)to sustain wieght.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 3:31 am 

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Leigh, Danee, thanks for your replies. I am not sure if I think your bandage wrapping comparision is the same thing as the kind of pressure exerted by a saddle and rider, but then again I don't know :| so it gives me something to think about.
The thought about wether cappillaries could be conditioned to take more pressure if the training was done gradually is an intersting one. I wonder if there would ever be a way to test that?
I spoke with Nadja King from Horses For Life and she said they are going to be doing more research on this topic. STormy's article was a starting point to get dialouge going on this topic. So that should be intereting to see in future issues.
In reading another thread I came across a similar discussion. I think it was Josepha who talked about slowly conditioning the muscles of the horse to be able to take more weight and get used to carrying the weight of a rider gradually. She compared it to a weight lifter in training. I think that is a good comparision. So I think your point about the slowness of the conditioning is a good one Danee.

I wish some of these tests that were mentioned in the article could be redone with the focus on horses and riders who were putting all these elemenst into play and see what the results would be. I have a feeling we would something different.

Leah


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:49 am 

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Really interesting discussion, it will be good to keep it ongoing as we find out more. Indeed, there are so many variables.

I only have my own, very limited experience -- which is, my 3 horses prefer groundwork. But there are circumstances in which they seem to be happy to carry me -- like when they want to go faster than I can walk/run. But they also each have different backs; Orlando can round his and carry a rider beautifully for short periods, but Dante finds it much more difficult. Of course that's why we work on the ground, to try to develop the right muscles... I think the willingness/ability to carry a rider depends a lot on this. It makes sense to me to see it like bodybuilding, or yoga -- you learn an exercise, then as it becomes easy, you make it harder by adding duration, and weight. And as long as you take it slowly, you steadily gain strength and flexibility.

I think Donald R. is so right; "ever mindful" is exactly how we are/should be. Though I must say I do, much more often than I mount myself, ask (in the spirit of jobs we have to do but don't necessarily love, lol) each of my horses to carry my 4 year old for little rides. They're pretty tolerant of this, my lovely boys, and I do try to make it fun for them as well as her :)


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:14 pm 
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AND probably has a higher concentration in one place of real friends of the horse than anywhere else on the planet.

Though I appreciate the scientists that conduct the research work on questions such as these. And in their way they too, I hope, are friends of the horse.

My mind goes back to discussions here on the subject of developing the horse's back, and paying particular attention to the neck-back band ligament.

We can never be too mindful of such concerns as this considering what the horse has given and continues to give to us.

Donald

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So say Don, Altea, and Bonnie the Wonder Filly.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 3:39 pm 
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Interesting question!

I don't know the answer either, but lately I was thinking more about haute ecole jumps, and thought that I wouldn't want to perform those while riding because the impact of the riders weight then must really put a lot of strain on the horses body when landing out of a jump. I think in those upwards jumps the riders weight puts a lot more strain on the horses body than the forwards jumping over jumps. Just a thought. :wink:

I also agree on that preparing horses for riding is a long, slow process - not only because you need to train the muscles for bearing your weight, but also you need to strenghthen the tendons (a slower process) and also the bones themselves - the longest process! Of course you will want to wait for the horses bones in the legs and most of the spin to have completely matured before you start riding (and 4 years indeed is a good guideline for that) - but even then you have to start slowly with the riding itself in order to prepare your horses body completely for carrying your weight. So when starting to ride an immature horse is wrong, for me it's also wrong to step on a green four year old and start riding and cantering him an hour a day. There have been studies recently on the impact of overtraining green horses (not necessarily too young) and they showed that if you start straining a green horse - or a horse who hasn't been ridden for more than two months and who therefore has lost a big part of the bone strength you need for riding! - too intensive, his muscles and tendons will become too fast too strong for the bones, and their stronger pull then causes the bone to chip/splinter because they cannot withstand that pull yet.

So I agree, start late and then start slow. I think the weightlifter is a good comparison indeed too! :)

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 4:33 pm 
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Miriam, your thoughts about riding a green horse, regardless of age, are really interesting!

It makes a lot of sense to me -- both emotionally and physically.

I think we are often in just too much of a hurry, for both horse and rider.

I was thinking about Leah's wondering about the conundrum of the rider's weight affecting the horse's back less if the rider is balanced and light, against the question of how, then, do you become a good rider. I think this is a very important question as well.

I was watching some folks over the ranch where I board the other day. They had some kids visiting, and were having a wonderful time, which was very cool. But, I watched one of the girls quickly get bored with riding at a walk and so they began to trot. She was bouncing and slamming all over that poor horse's back, did it for a few minutes and then was lobbying to, as she put it, "gallop." She said, "well I know how to trot now, why can't I gallop?"

They convinced her that wasn't a good idea, so she went back to bouncing and trotting. Hands yanking on the reins, horse's neck high, back hollowed. This horse is a saint -- very kind, grounded guy who is a real buddy to his owner, who doesn't know a whole lot about riding, but who lavishes him with love and attention. (She actually was the first person at the ranch to see my bitless and order one for herself -- so at least this boy wasn't getting yanked mercilessly on the mouth!) But, even though his rider was small and light, he was obviously really uncomfortable and just too kind to complain loudly enough to toss her off.

I stood for a while and marveled at this, and realized that for most of the world, the baseline about riding is balancing simply enough not to fall off -- it's very person oriented. We don't think about the horse all that much.

And I was thinking about all of the dance technique training I had before I was dancing/performing professionally -- years and years and hours and hours of training stretch, strength, balance, etc. Vanessa, I think this mirrors what you were saying about body building and yoga, too.

I think, for both horses and people, we forget we need to walk before we fly -- literally! :-) I've seen so many training situations where people are trotting, cantering, and even jumping just a handful of lessons in. I know that trainers are in part just trying to stay competitive by giving people what they want rather than what they need.

But...I'm beginning to truly understand that people and horses would be much better served if training began solely at a walk until they both are finding their balance with each other (in the person's case, without using the reins or the saddle horn or even stirrups for balance; in the horse's case, learning to walk with rounded back, etc. with that extra weight on them), and they are both understanding how each other are moving. For example -- for the rider, can you feel when each leg is moving? What is the shoulder doing? What's happening in the back? When are the feet hitting the ground? And what is your body doing to match these movements? What is your breath doing? How is your horse breathing?

(I know that a lot of the dressage masters say that the walk is under utilized as a training tool -- I think they're right!)

I think about how hard I bounced on Stardust's back when we first started into training together -- I was re-finding muscles and balance that I'd lost over the years, and he has an exceedingly large trot -- and I cringe. I think we both would have been much better served to work longer in the walk as I rebuilt my core strength and he built his neck band/back strength. But, for both my trainer and my vet, the way to build that strength for both of us was through a lot of trot work. And we did get to my being able to ride his trot in a balanced, light way, but I think it was harder on him (probably both of us, really) because we jumped into it too soon.

One of the things I've been doing with Circe, and was opining about in my journal a while back, was the "sack of potatoes" ride :-) -- where I lay across her back like a human saddle bag as she walks around and grazes. This has been a really interesting thing to play with -- because my face and whole torso are in contact with her, I can feel her breathing, how her muscles are moving, etc. I have a literal heart connection to her back, and have been thinking a lot about how to share soft, embracive energy with her, so that I'm hugging her from above when I'm laying across her. My weight is more distributed across her back (no pointy seat bones digging into her!) :-) and I've learned a lot about really relaxing doing this because there's no sense of concern about what might happen if she were to spook -- I just slip off to my feet on the ground.

I'm also not guiding, steering, or dominating from this position -- I'm truly a passenger and can't give into the temptation of applying a little leg or pulling on her head. So -- she gets to feel my weight and decide if it works for her, moving how and where she wants to.

My focus is totally on her movement and breathing and how my movement and breath is meeting/engaging/mirroring that -- I think it's an interesting experience for both of us, because I'm completely a passenger but am totally focused on her -- which is pretty much the exact opposite of beginning riders, who are generally trying to get the horse to do where they want to them to do without any real focus on the horse...

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 7:10 pm 

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Location: U.S..A. Michigan
Interesting thought: Miriam wrote-
lately I was thinking more about haute ecole jumps, and thought that I wouldn't want to perform those while riding because the impact of the riders weight then must really put a lot of strain on the horses body when landing out of a jump. I think in those upwards jumps the riders weight puts a lot more strain on the horses body than the forwards jumping over jumps.
I would agree with you Miriam. It does seem like there is no way not to slam on your horses back when you come down. If I can ever get the Haute Ecole video clips from Spain posted you will see that.
These comments have all been very interesting and insightful.
It sure does seem with the proper conditioning as well as tack we could greatly reduce any negative physical affects from riding.
I think about how my mare was started and now I cringe.
We got her as a 5 year old, so I thought well good she is fully mature. But she was started in a 3 day colt starting clinic. Carrying a 45 lb stock saddle. I have no idea why i did that now :scratch: except that I was caught up in the whole NH movement and thought everyone else new better then me.
After the clinic she was ridden almost evey day, by myself or my trainer. I feel horrible now when I look back. How could I have been so stupid? :oops:
In the 5 years I have had her I have probably ridden about the equivalant of a year and a half. I am grateful it hasn't been more then that knowing what I do now.
Now we are rebuilding her health and back.
And Leigh, I totally agree with your thoughts about the walk. Everyone wants to move on so quickly, but very few people can walk their horses correctly. I think that is a good place to start. Spend time at the walk, you can learn balence that will help you at the other gaits. Study pilates, tai chi, centered riding. All those things even at the walk will help so much and we wont be punishing our horses back.
i have taken several lessons with James Shaw www.shawtaichi.com
and his lessons really helped me. We always worked at the walk.
Anyways, please keep these wonderful,"mindful" posts coming. I love this forum. :D

Leah[/quote]


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