Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Circles and competence

One of the things I've been doing more of over the last few months is putting horses on circles - not just as a test of soundness but as a way of regularly assessing how their comfort levels are improving.

Most rehab horses when they arrive will show some unlevelness on a circle - after all if they weren't lame they wouldn't be here :-)
I've been planning since the end of last year also to film horses more often on a circle but its not practical in every case - if the weather is bad its impossible; if horses are totally wired when they arrive its not always safe or useful.  I still like to grab the footage where I can, though - and the clips of Lenny, below illustrate why.

Lenny on a circle from Nic Barker on Vimeo.

I've put two short comparisons, about 2 weeks apart, on the footage; they show Lenny at 2 weeks after he arrived (when he had already changed from a toe first to heel first landing) and at 4 weeks.

You can see that even though his landing had improved after his first fortnight here, he was noticeably less sound on the left rein on a circle and was inclined to rush.  On the right rein everything was more level but unbalanced and he found a right bend difficult, so tended to fall in and make the circle even smaller.

Just under 2 weeks later and he is much happier - he is more relaxed, more balanced and has more suppleness.  Even though there is a long way to go, he is heading in the right direction.  Over the next few weeks he should become better still and start to move with less hollowness as well.

Lenny is a good illustration of how foot balance affects the whole horse.  Even a small improvement in hoof landing and balance can have a big effect not only on the limbs but the rest of the horse - and his overall freedom of movement.

No comments: