The Horse Logic Blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Star's Natural Barefoot Trim

Here is Star having a natural barefoot trim. Even though she has no saddle training, her ground manners are impeccable. She is very easy to work with once you have her caught. Star is a very good horse for any farrier work.

Here is a picture of myself rasping Star's hoof. She is very good for farrier work.

Here is a picture of her hoof when it is finished

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Franny is Pregnant

Franny was last breed on July 14 of 2007. Which puts her at 130 days right now. We are so very excited about this baby. Especially because the Sire is Santiago from Rothrock Andalusians. There website is: Rothrock Andalusians They have a wonderful site and a wonderful facility.

Thanks and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dressage: Reasons that it is the foundation of any discipline.

By Sara McKiness of Horse Logic

What is Dressage? Well first off the word dressage in French means training. Why do I believe it is the foundation for any discipline? Because of the ten parts of the Dressage Training Tree (as taught by MMIEC*), which are Rhythm, Relaxation, Freedom of Gaits, Contact, Straightness, Balance, Impulsion, Suppleness, On the Aids, and Collection. (These are however slightly different from the traditional German Training Scale.) Without the principles of the training “tree” the horse cannot have a close relationship with the trainer and will not have the correct basic training. Once you have moved up the tree and your horse understands the principle correctly you can work on further training that is discipline specific such as dressage, show jumping, reining, cutting, endurance, and combined training to name a few.

Dressage should be a large part of the first training that your horse will receive. This should also include groundwork.

The first part of the training tree is Rhythm. Your horse needs to have rhythm in his breathing and also rhythm in his footfalls. When your horse doesn’t have rhythm he is worried about something. You want your horse to have the rhythm, because he will further develop the relationship that he has with you and also allows the training to be understood. When he has rhythm, he is very relaxed and will pay attention to you in a positive manner. This will make the training a very positive experience.

The second step in the training tree is Relaxation. When your horse has relaxation he can have rhythm and will be a trusting partner for training. Having relaxation means that he will be responsive to training, but not worried about it. This will make the training a positive experience.

The third step in the training tree is Freedom of Gaits. This means that the horse can freely move forward without any interference from the rider/ trainer. When you are first starting a green horse, and you are on their backs for the first several rides you do not want to interfere with their natural gaits/movements. The only reason that you would want to stop any movement is if the horse gets dangerous and is bucking hard or rearing. This way the horse can learn to balance and carry the rider’s weight in his own way. After the horse can carry a rider’s weight while staying balanced then we can start to add rein aids to the training.

The fourth step in the training tree is Contact. Once the horse has rhythm, relaxation, and freedom of gaits, he will start to seek the contact of the reins. When he does seek the contact, the rider needs to make sure that it is very elastic. You do not want to start pulling on a young or uneducated horse’s mouth. This will only teach him that the bit can hurt, and he will not want to look for any type of contact. The first contact should also be very loose and again elastic. As riders you want to have a loose but slight contact that will follow the horse’s motion and not become locked up, or pull. Once your horse has accepted the contact he can move farther up the training tree.

The fifth step in the training tree is Straightness. This is a very misunderstood concept in training. When I am talking about straightness I mean a horse that is straight is following a particular imaginary line on the ground. With this imaginary line he should have both front and hind feet evenly on either side of the line. This line can also be straight or curved. But the horse is only straight if he is evenly following the line with feet evenly spaced on either side of it. It is very natural for horses to have an easier direction. Just as we are either left handed or right handed, horses move in one direction easier than the other. The direction that he can maintain straightness with more ease is his easier direction. It is the job of the trainer to work both sides evenly so that the horse can travel straight and do this with ease.

The sixth step in the progression of the training tree is Balance. Balance is when the horse is carrying his weight evenly on all four feet. This would seem a pretty simple step to train a horse, but horses have a large head that acts as a weight. This “weight” causes horses to put more weight onto their front ends or forehands. As riders we are trying to teach a horse how to carry more weight with his hind end. The hind end is his motor. Sort of like a motorboat. All of a horse’s power for speed and such comes from his hind end. So for this step in the training tree we are starting to ask the horse to carry more of his weight on his hind end. This will allow him to have correct muscle development that will enable him to excel in any discipline.

The seventh step in the training tree is Impulsion. Impulsion is when the horse pushes more from behind, and feels like a power surge. You do not have impulsion when the horse speeds up and has shorter strides. True impulsion is actually fewer strides covering a larger area. For example you can test to see if you have true impulsion, by picking 2 definite points in your arena (or wherever you ride). Now that you have the 2 points selected, count the number of strides between the points at a normal trot. The next step is to ask for impulsion by using more leg and count the strides between the same 2 points. If you have more strides this is not true impulsion. When you count the strides and have less, this is true impulsion. Having less strides means that your horse is lengthening his stride, and this is true impulsion. So just remember this exercise because it can help you determine if your horse is really giving you impulsion. This will also help you to feel what impulsion feels like.

The eight step in the training tree is Suppleness. This means is that the horse is able to bend in either direction without any stiffness. When you are riding you horse and he locks his jaw or poll, he is not supple. All he is doing is bracing against your hands. This causes the stiffness to go through his entire body and it effects his movement. Once your horse is completely supple it will be very easy to communicate with him where to put his body parts. You want your horse to be supple in all of his joints as any stiffness will affect to whole horse. Remember that in order for your horse to be supple you as the rider also need to be supple. Otherwise you transmit the stiffness to your horse, and he will never be completely supple.

The ninth step in the training tree is On the Aids. All on the aids means is that the horse is very responsive to our aids. At this point in a horse’s training, the actual training part should be invisible. It should appear as if the rider is dancing with his horse. When a horse is truly on your aids he will be responsive to your aids, but he will also be correctly connected from his hocks all the way through his mouth. Some trainers like to call this ‘being on the bit’. A horse that is truly on the bit needs to be correctly connected from the hocks through the mouth, while maintaining complete communication with the rider’s aids. At this point your horse is reaching upper levels in his training.

The tenth and final step in the training tree is Collection. Collection is when the horse shifts more weight onto his haunches and increase the bend of his hock’s and stifle’s. This also lowers his entire hind end. The horse also reaches under his body farther and carries more weight with the hind legs. The reason that this is the final step in training is because the horse has to have proper development of his muscles and accomplish all of the previous steps in order to have true collection.

This is why I believe dressage is the foundation for any discipline. In order to excel in eventing, cutting, endurance, or reining to name a few, your horse needs to have this type of training. A horse cannot correctly execute a sliding stop, or passage without the previously mentioned steps. If you are missing one piece of the training tree your horse will not be able to perform to the best of his ability.

Remember to give your horse the benefit of the doubt and always work on the basics. Without the proper basics your horse can’t succeed in your chosen discipline. But if you have correct basics he will be a pleasure to ride and it will appear as though you are not giving any aids at all.

Please visit my blog and check out new posts about training an untrained horse from the start.

I welcome any suggestions for future articles, or any questions that you would like answered in a future article.

Learn something new every month from Horse Logic. A new article will be featured every month in From the Horse’s Mouth by: Sara McKiness from Horse Logic.

*Meredith Manor International Equestrian Center

©Horse Logic 2007

Sara McKiness
Horse Logic
Saint Charles, IL

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Franny is Pregnant

Franny is for sure pregnant. My vet Dr. Kuhn did an exam on her to see if she was indeed pregnant. And she is. At this point she is 90 days along and looks very healthy. I will continue to post updates.


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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cute Halloween Costume

I know that this is unrelated to horses, however my son was a Cowboy riding a horse for Halloween. And here is a pic. He was very proud of his costume.


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Thursday, November 8, 2007

2nd Work Session

Here I am bonding with Star and also starting to follow her. As mentioned before she has an issue with being caught. Star is not afraid of being caught she does not always feel that she needs to be caught. This is something that I am going to work on along with furthering her training.

This picture is of me starting to bond with her and the second picture is with me following her. She does let me get close enough catch her, but it usually takes around 20 minutes or so.

My plan is to start catching her just to reward her with scratches and some apples (she is not a huge fan of carrots). One note of caution in regards to feeding your horse treats by hand, your horse can learn how to bite. I am not into hand feeding horses, however in this situation Star needs the reward right when I catch her and also as I have her (with a lead rope). This way she will start to associate me with positive rewards, and not negative experiences.

Also I want to note that she is not nervous with me at all. You can tell because her ear's tip towards me to listen to me. She also is not wild eyed, and she is not running way wildly. In fact you can see that she will calmly decide to just simply walk away.

Please check back for new updates regarding Star's progress.


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Starting From Scratch

Here is a recently acquired horse. She is 18 and does not have any saddle training. About the only training that she does have is some basic leading training and also the "how not to be caught" syndrome. Apparently the only times she was caught in the past was to be examined by the vet and also to be breed.

I am going to be chronicling her training progress on my blog. By the way her name is Star and she is an Arabian. This is a very special horse that needs to have some serious quality time spent with her.

Please stay tuned for updates on her training.


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