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Training Step 1

Training Step 1

 

Many years of horse training have shown that – because of their inherent crookedness – without proper training, horses are not able to move bended on a circle without suffering bodily harm in the long run. On a circle, the horse uses his handed shoulder as a sheet anchor for balance, thereby constantly putting his main weight on his handed foreleg.

Thus, the left-handed horse, when bending to the right, will move like a speed skater in the skating rink (centrifugal force); when bending to the left, his hindquarters will sheer out of the circle line (shear forces).

 

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The untrained left-handed horse bending to the right

 

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The untrained left-handed horse bending to the left

 

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The same horse after 5 days of training bending to the right.

 

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The same horse after 5 days of training bending to the left.

 


Due to these (naturally inherent) patterns of movement, all horses at the ARR center undergo both training steps, regardless of their age or training level.


Preliminary Longe Work

When trained at the ARR center, a horse’s inherent crookedness is corrected (i. e. the horse is straightened) before he is saddled at all. The horse must be enabled to manage his centrifugal and shear forces on the circle, to lift his trunk and have his back swing upward. Only then, stress-free riding without endangering the horse’s health is possible.

Straightness can be achieved by training the horse in a round pen with a cavesson. On the longe, the horse learns to shift his main body weight from his handed shoulder to his hindquarters (diagonal shift), thereby lifting his trunk. If this weight shift is not achieved, the weight of the trunk puts pressure on the forelegs and inhibits the blood flow in the withers area, resulting in hollows behind the shoulders and a dent in the withers’ topline. When moving like that, the horse is not able to build the musculature he will need as a ridden horse; flexed haunches and an upward-swinging back are not anatomically possible in this posture. Many horse owners have had to witness the resulting grave and often chronic damage that such a posture, when adopted over longer periods of time, can do to the horse’s back, ligaments and fetlocks.

Unfortunately, we often see horses who hold their necks downhill; this posture is well intended but, when forced under the wrong circumstances, proves to have grave consequences. A low neck and head without lifting of the trunk does not result in the intended elongation of the back muscles but rather forces the horse to put his weight on his front legs; the damage resulting from that has already been made explicit.

After approximately 3 – 4 weeks, the first training step is finished: the straightened horse shows rhythm, impulsion and suppleness on the longe. Four goals of the FN training scale have now been achieved. The horse is ready and able to begin work under saddle – the second training step.

On the longe, the horse is trained to change his movement patterns, looking like a stallion who herds his group members. His flexing haunches carry his main body weight, and his back swings upward.

On the longe, the horse is trained to change his movement patterns, looking like a stallion who herds his group members. His flexing haunches carry his main body weight, and his back swings upward.


At the end of training step 1 the straightened horse moves on the longe like a stallion herding his group. The back is swinging upwards, the cannon bones are parallel in movement, the hind legs stay in line with the front legs, the tail swings loosely.

 

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