Monday 17 October 2011

Straightness and symmetry

I bunked off on Saturday as soon as I had done the horses here, as I had the opportunity to go and see Marijke de Jong giving a clinic near Bridgewater.  Unfortunately the organisers didn't want photos taken, so this is a photo from her Facebook page which I hope she won't mind me borrowing for the day!
I've been interested for a long time in how horses move and how patterns of movement can be changed and improved.  In 2008-2009 I spent 6 months studying with Mary Bromiley, which gave me a fascinating and essential introduction to anatomy and biomechanics.  I am always trying to find ways of improving the rehab of the horses here and Mary's equine sports massage course has proved a useful addition to the toolbox but I wanted more :-)
Last year Patrice Edwards came up to Rockley for a few days and really opened my eyes to the possibilities of improving horses through classical rehabilitation exercises and what Marijke de Jong teaches is based on the same principles.

Of course all horses are asymmetric to a greater or lesser extent but I've seen with the rehab horses that long term lameness can also fix horses into patterns of crooked movement that can be quite persistent.  Once horses have healthier feet and are able to start moving in a better way, then it can be very helpful to use the sorts of exercises that both Patrice and Marijke teach as a way of kick-starting more correct, balanced movement.

Its something I am only in the early stages of using and I would love to spend a lot more time taking it to the next level  - maybe something for next year ;-)


Unknown said...

I am hoping she will do a clinic somewhere near here too. For now, I am following the youtube channel she set up which is great!
Shame Patrice couldn't make it to the RRR, would love to see the theory in practice.
I am totally fascinated by straightness rehab too ever since we got Kingsley in 2009 and would love to learn more about it :)

Kristen Eleni Shellenbarger said...

So true. I'm rehabbing my barefoot horse and I totally noticed yesterday, our trot turns going counter clock or so much better, loose and swingy vs going clockwise which are tight and tense. He has a bad Right Hind which I believe has everything to do with it....and we continue to work on it. :)

Neets Human said...

In hand work is so useful.. for bringing back into work or laying the foundations before ridden work begins.. learning how to work a horse in hand and the use of lateral work is one of the most under rated / taught aspects of horsemanship in my opinion.

cptrayes said...

You'd love to work with Radar for a year. When I lay him off in summer his natural way of moving is so bent that he grows a lateral extension on his near hind. When I bring him back into work and get him working straight it takes around two months for the extension to almost disappear. The effect is so marked that your students would learn a lot from it, like I have.


ClaireShand said...

Wow, sounds amazing!

I've been clicker training Teddy using the groundwork lessons of Alexander Kurland. She's a classical dressage trainer and the whole focus of her work is based on teaching the horse to go in balance and self carriage. The difference in Ted's whole back and stride is incredible over the few months we've been working through the system. It's fascinating what the right work will do. :o)

Nic Barker said...

I love clicker training too Claire- it's how I taught Felix to go without a bridle :-)
you could certainly teach straightness just with positive reinforcment - in fact Marijke uses lots of it, though without a clicker marker.

It's more a way of movement than a training technique but I suspect to an extent it would be self reinforcing because it's a more comfortable way for the horse to move on the whole.

ClaireShand said...

I think that's a really fab point about teaching the horse to go in balance being self reinforcing in its own right. This work is so fascinating! Love the way you have taught Felix to go bridle-less too :o)