HOW DOES OUR TRAINING STYLE DIFFER TO OTHERS?
Other versions of this question are ‘Whose methods do you follow?’ and ‘What training style do you use?’
Over time, I have made decisions on which principles are the most important to me, what goals and objectives I would like to reach with each horse and how I can achieve those goals most efficiently, while taking into consideration the safety of the handler/rider and the welfare of the horse.
Alongside constant observations and lessons from every individual horse that we work with, our unique training programs have been developed and continue to develop.
We use a combination of exercises and methods based on horsemanship, straightness training, equine biomechanics and classical dressage to achieve mental and physical engagement.
Here are some key aspects of our training:
🐴We encourage the horses to draw in to us, rather than move away or employ their flight response. As opposed to some methods which push or drive the horse away frequently, our goal is to motivate them to focus on us, to convince them we are of value and a place of security.
🐴In asking a horse to perform a task or exercise we place expectations on them to respond or move their body in a certain way. Instead of leaving it up to the horse to figure out a random answer to achieve our goals, we aim to provide adequate direction, which guides them to succeed in finding the correct answer.
For example, even when asking what may seem to be the simplest of tasks, for example, asking the horse to move out of space or move out on a lunge line, the smallest of requests to move the body can be broken down into bite sized pieces, such as how to shift weight and move positions, this aids understanding and trust.
🐴We have an open dialogue with the horse as opposed to placing a continued list of demands on them. Once we have directed or set them up in a way which promotes success in achieving the goal, we ask a question… ‘are you able to do what I am asking?’. If the answer is ‘I can’t’ we redirect and ask again until the answer is ‘yes, I can’...and always remember to say ‘thank you’.
🐴Why does straightness matter?
Horses find security in balance as becoming unbalanced leaves them vulnerable (to predators). By helping them to be stable and secure in their body and movements we create softness and eliminate anxiety or negative behaviours.
🐴Proprioception is closely related to this and is defined as a sense of self movement and body position. If the horse is aware of each part of their body, the sensations they feel when weight bearing, shifting weight or performing exercises become less concerning as they become more familiar. By repeating a specific body position, movement or muscle pattern, neuro pathways are formed between the brain and tissues (muscles/tendons/ligaments) to aid in repetition of useful body movements and postures.
🐴Following on from this, biomechanics is linked to the two points above and another focus of our training. By directing the horses body in a way that promotes core and hind limb engagement and associated muscle development, we are teaching them to use their body in a way that can most efficiently and comfortably carry a rider and perform the tasks we regularly ask of them, neither of these, the horses’ body was designed to do. We also do not underestimate the physical strength required to achieve this and take a gradual approach to conditioning as with any athlete.
🐴‘Dressage’ is a French term which translates to ‘training’ and in its classical form serves the purpose of developing the horses’ natural ability in order to maximise potential under saddle. We use common gymnastic exercises to gradually develop suppleness and elasticity with the aim for the horse to respond smoothly from minimal aids. By this definition it is incredibly valuable in all disciplines.
🐴While working on the above four points we work ‘back to front’ and believe that what is happening through the forehand and mouth of the horse is a symptom of what is happening at the hind end, therefore, if we influence the larger portion of the body (the last 2/3) to work efficiently and correctly, the result is an aesthetically pleasing front end, eliminating the need for restrictions on the head, neck or face. This leads us directly to mouthing…
🐴There are many ‘mouthing’ processes to teach a horse to ‘accept’ a contact. We aim to provide security through teaching the horse to feel comfortable enough to sit quietly and softly at the end of our reins. We use this mouth feel, as mentioned above, as a method of communication that allows us to gauge how effectively the horse is working through their body and influence changes in this mouth feel by influencing the rest of the body, particularly the latter portion.
By using the above principles we aim to produce a willing partner who is relaxed in our company, seeks direction from us and is physically equipped and able to perform the tasks we ask of them.
CADENCE HORSE TRAINING
Striving to maintain an encouraging and inclusive culture among fellow equestrians. We're passionate about all things equine including behaviour, biomechanics, training and horsemanship!