Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Artificial Aids

There are so many different things you can buy to 'help' your riding skills such as whips, spurs, martingales and all those new fangled ropes to get your horses head on the bit etc.Most of these only offer temporary results and like the vice stoppers they  don't get to the problem at all, they just mask over it and treat the symptoms. You usually find no matter what you do artificially has to be done over and over again in the vain attempt that one day your horse will 'get it' and everything will be fine.

The only real way to get things like impulsion, flexion, on the bit, engagement of the hindlegs and for your horse to really listen to you is by gradual training. You need to try to learn what makes your horse tick and to use that to your advantage. In learning how your horse thinks you are finally getting into his mind and if he finds that at last you can "talk" his language he'll respect you rather than fear your repremands.

To learn from an inspiring teacher who gets you to enjoy your horse without fear of loosing control is a teacher worth his/her weight in gold. Usually most of us get towards this sort of understanding of horses after we've learnt and practiced all the bad habits. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be taught from the beginning, no matter what age, exactly what it is that makes a horse go so well for some people. I believe that most of the faults that people have with their horses (things that make their horses 'bad') is to do with the lack of understanding, no matter how long they've been riding, some people still don't get what riding a horse is all about.

To use whips and spurs to scare your horse into moving is wrong, negative punishment just does not work towards a harmonious relationship with a horse any more than it does when teaching a human being.

It can be very difficult and frustrating when you have a horse that won't do what you request, but consider natural horsemanship training for you and your horse.

Sometimes we have to admit that the horse we have isn't for us, sometimes people buy horses for their looks and don't care enough for the horse to have a good relationship with it. Then the problems start. Most blame the horse for all sorts of things which go wrong when it is ourselves who are at fault. But to keep on tormenting your horse with fear and yourself with stress isn't fair on either of you. Sort it out naturally. Don't be tempted to keep hitting and kicking your horse harder and harder thinking it'll work in the end. IT WONT and to be honest it's abusive.

The other thing which seems to be very popular at the moment is training aids. You should always consider very carefully before trying any artificial training aids as they could not only injure your horse physically but also mentally and emotionally. A horse who is ridden properly, carefully and with a fitness program thought out well, will almost certainly gain the correct head position himself, will learn how to engage his hindlegs naturally and most of all will not damage any muscles doing it. These things take time and patience. Lets face it all horses walk, trot, canter and gallop beautifully in their fields and in the wild and the only thing they have to learn is how to do all that with the unnatural weight of a person on their backs. If we learn to balance ourselves correctly and in a light way we can help our horses learn to carry themselves beautifully with us on their backs.

We should not be encouraged to use 'quick fixes' for our horses, in the end they usually fail. We must learn that all good things take time and are worth waiting for.


This form of training involves a horse going around in an endless circle on a lead. How boring. I've been told that it's very good for developing muscles, for teaching voice commands and for quietening high spirits before riding, but what I believe it does is it gets the horse to 'switch-off' and can sometimes cause the horse to think you don't want it near which can become an issue when you do want him near you like in catching.

I know there are some good lunging instructors and done well and for short periods I can see how that can help with the ridden work but there aren't many people that truly know why or HOW to lunge correctly. A lot of horses end up tensing especially if the side reins are shortened too quickly and they end up with a big tension muscle under their neck rather than the correct muscle over their crests.

The heavy caveson head collar used for lunging, with the rope coming from the front of the nose puts a very unnatural weight here and causes the horse to tip his head unnaturally to the outside of the circle to counterbalance. Repetative small circles are not at all natural to horses and it can damage joints, tendons and ligaments. Some studies have proved that lunging can cause unnatural calcification of joints, so please seriously think about this before doing this there are other ways that are more beneficial and fun for a horse to learn.

Long-lining with two reins is much better as the horse goes forwards, uses the same commands as if you were in the saddle therefore preparing him in the same way, the horses head is in a more natural position keeping his muscular, nervous and skeletal systems in balance. It's also wonderful exercise for you too. Going around fields and eventually onto tracks is not only better for your horse but more interesting for you both. Also with horses that need exercise but can't be ridden it's wonderful for getting them out of the field.