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ARR® Center for Anatomically
Correct Horsemanship

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47574 Goch
Phone: +49 (0) 2823 97555 09
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Cell Phone: +49 (0) 172 14 13 294
Cell Phone: +49 (0) 172-211 73 13


Horses with a burr under their saddle

Girthiness is commonly associated with the consequences of tightening the girth too quickly when the saddle is first put on. But although there has been so much progress in the field of saddle making during the last decades and the awareness of the importance of saddle fitting and careful girthing has positively changed, many of our modern riding horses across all breeds are girthy. On reflection, this does not come as a surprise. What if the reason for the girthiness of a large part of the horses concerned were to be found in the low back position?

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How to put backbone into horse training

A fundamental rule of horse training under saddle is that your horse has to "engage through the back". However, the background of this principle is unfamiliar to many riders and even trainers.

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Getting Started With Training After Rehabilitation

Patiently you have given your horse time to recover from an illness or injury. Then finally, after a control examination, the vet gives the green light for the rehabilitation phase. You are very happy – and very uncertain.

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ARR in Danish horse magazine Ridehesten

The very important Danish horse magazine Ridehesten has just published a big article on the ARR training method and the successful retraining of Danish warmblood stallion White Talisman.

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Anatómiailag helyes lovaglás

Read the fourth part of the series of articles on ARR in the Hungarian horse magazine LOVAS ELET!

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Horse Journal

Horse Journal


Training Journal of a «Withdrawn» Breeding and Sport Stallion

Talisman, Danish Warmblood, 17 years

The grey stallion’s career begins very promising. Three years old, he is licensed for breeding in Danish Warmblood, only one year later he easily wins the Danish Championships for 4 Year Old Dressage Horses and is allowed to compete in the World Dressage Championships for Young Horses in Verden (Germany). The year that follows, Talisman impresses with victories and excellent rankings in all competitions he participates in.

But then the stallion has a serious accident which results in bad injuries of his legs and most seriously of his air tube – he is in real danger of dying. Thanks to his unrestrained will to live he fights himself back to life during several months at the veterinary clinic and even finds back to glory at the dressage arenas of his now homeland Norway. But here again, the success finds a sudden end after a pasture accident followed by a long stable rest.

Although Talisman is given an easy time with intensive veterinary care and physiotherapy, he does not find his way back to former performance. When he is trained by a Norwegian para rider with the Paralympics in mind, he shows lameness during riding work, the reasons for which no veterinarian can ever find or cure. It is therefore decided that this charming horse should be used only for breeding purposes and presentations in stallion shows.

Finally, the stallion is not very popular among breeders anymore and he is meant to be «put away». But thanks to new owners, his way leads him to Germany, to the ARR Center of Anatomically Correct Horsemanship. What do the experts there say about his shape and condition? What can be achieved through specific training at his age? Was he written off too soon?


Health Check

During a five days break Talisman could recover from the strain of his long journey and enjoy the green grass in the pasture and the nice view to the courtyard in his loose-box. Now today our expertise team will make a general health check.
First, horse dentist Rabea Neubaum takes a close look at the stallion’s teeth and declares that basically everything is fine. They have been taken care of regularly – that pays at an older age.

Next, veterinarian Ute Küppers makes a holistic health check. Especially with a 17 years old horse it is essential to determine the status quo of his general condition before starting the training.

At the beginning of the week, a blood sample has been taken to make a full blood exam. The results are available today: the only abnormal count concerns eosinophilia, which is rather high. Dr. Küppers assumes a worm attack or dust allergy being the reason for this.

In addition, Dr. Küppers checks Talisman’s eyes and discovers a slightly defective sight due to his age.

The cardiovascular system and respiratory organs are checked at rest and under stress, i.e. after a couple of minutes of free running in the round pen. Everything is just fine. The stallion passes the flexion test without any problems as well.

Even the old scar on the right side of his neck is only a tiny cosmetic flaw.

Hoof care has been neglected in the past and now the hoofs need intensive care: the hoof walls are chapped and show cracks. The appointment with the blacksmith is already fixed.
What will be the diagnosis on the lunge? The stallion that has been schooled by professionals to high levels: is he straightened? How does Talisman cope with the circle?



The analysis of Talisman is done in the round pen, the heart of the ARR Center. After that, as always, the videotaping is discussed in detail with the horse owners.

First, we discuss what the initial situation is and what the owners expect from the training at the ARR Center in order to fix specific training objectives. The highly talented breeding stallion has once been very successful and certainly has lived a good life. Then he grew older and has not been trained on a regular basis anymore. As a result, he lacks of muscles and shows signs of neglected care. Now the new owners wish to give back quality of life to the horse and have fun with him as a partner for ambitious leisure riding.

The videotaping makes it very clear: the highly schooled stallion is unable to walk in a circle. Although he once has been a very successful dressage horse, he still bears its inherent crookedness – a very common phenomenon.

The horse is too bendable or «hollow» to the right side and is stiff to the left side. This asymmetry is particularly visible when the horse walks in a small circle, which the non-straightened horse choses itself to walk. We will discover that in the course of the training Talisman will enlarge the circle on his own. This is the actual sense of this training. In addition, the horse back is still swinging downward at the moment, which means a big strain on joints.


First Training

The first training lasts only a few minutes. Talisman yet needs some support with the stick, because at the moment, he is not able to control on his own the negative shift caused by inherent crookedness. We should point out here: the stick should only be manipulated by experts! It’s selective use assumes a great deal of precision and sensitivity.


Second Training

The next day, during the second training unit, you can observe some progress. To the left, Talisman still needs the stick for support, but the upright head position is already considerably less pronounced. To the right, there is also very good progress: during short moments, the stallion already stretches forward-downward in most welcome manner, and first signs of an upward swinging back become visible.


No Horse Without Hoofs

The blacksmith Gerd Lamberty takes care of Talisman’s hoofs. First, together with Gabriele Rachen-Schöneich, he gets a general impression of the stallion when he walks and when he stands still.

All in all, the hoofs are in very bad shape and show fissures on all four feet. Some of them go up until the coronet, which is inflamed and sore. Even the keen blacksmith has no explanation how a horse can have so bad hoofs. Even most experienced Gerd Lamberty will have to use all his wiles to manage this exceptionally challenging situation.

Another striking thing are the rounded off tips of the hind limb hoof toes and the hemorrhages of the hoof sole, which are rather severe in some places. It seems reasonable to suppose that the horse has suffered from laminitis on all four legs. This would also explain the rounded off hind limb hoofs.

Today, it will be most important to take pressure out of the hoofs and to bring back the hoof balance. In a first step, the fissures are opened (some of them up to one finger’s breadth) and cleaned. After that, the fissures are filled with glue. On the left forelimb hoof, where the fissures are worst, he sticks an acrylic sheet over the hoof. With that, the pressure in the hoof fissures loosens. You can tell from Talisman’s behavior that he feels relieved: wearing only a halter, he calmly starts chewing and lets his head fall down.

On the hind limb hoofs, the inner side is shortened as much as possible. On the outer site, the branch is a little bit larger, as the heel goes very deep down. The outer branch of the left hindlimb shoe is forged a little bit thinner in order for the hoof to float partially above the shoe (where the fissure is). Doing so, the pressure can be reduced.

On the forelimbs, Gerd Lamberty chooses aluminum shoes. They are lighter and therefore better for the weak hoofwalls. The branches are enlarged to reduce pressure. Between the hoof and the shoe he adds a thin silicone dish. Thanks to its ergonomic shape, the horse keeps its sense of touch. The disc is padded with soft hemp that has been soaked in tar. This avoids pressure that otherwise would have been caused by the silicone. Because of the fissures on the left forelimb hoof only two nails can be driven into the hoofwall.

After the work is done, Mr. Lamberty and Ms. Rachen-Schöneich observe White Talisman being walked on firm ground. It is very clear that the horse already steps in the right direction an moves with more power. The shoeing is not perfect yet, but this will take time. We soon will see what effect the new shoes have on the training.


Seventh Training

With his new shoes Talisman is already changing his rhythm. However, the back is still swinging downwards because the trapezius muscle holds the trunk in low position. As for now, everything is normal at this stage of training. It will be interesting to observe at what moment he will be able to support his inner shoulder with his inner hind limb so he can find his vertical and enlarge the circle.

At the moment, Talisman obviously is mentally still unable to completely let himself in for the work in the circle. All these years during which he had been fixed in a certain form take their toll: although the stallion is very obedient and accepts the demands, he is unable to let go emotionally as for now, because he lacks confidence in his own abilities. His playfulness, cheerfulness and carefree attitude lie dormant too deep inside him as for now.


Three Weeks Later

It has been three weeks now that Talisman got new shoes. It is amazing who much better the hoofs already look! This is all due to the superb feat of the blacksmith, who managed with his tricky work to take the pressure off the hoofs, and to the well-aimed training that changed the whole load distribution in the horse body.

We remember that the worst fissures were in the left front-limb hoof and the right hind-limb hoof. This is not surprising with a left dominant horse, that always seeks support on his left front limb and – as a consequence of the twisted body axis – puts negative strain on its right hind limb. Throughout the last 21 days of training with the cavesson the stallion continued to find his way to his center of gravity: with the active back, the strain on joints and hooves is clearly reduced.

A clearly positive development can also be observed concerning muscle building and quality of movement. Talisman moves with more power, the overall aspect of his body is rounder and specially his neck and hindquarters become well-muscled. For short moments, the back swings now nicely upwards.

However, the stallion is not completely able yet to walk on the big circle because centrifugal and shearing forces still cause him some trouble for now. The motion picture makes it clear that the inner hind limb does not find it’s right position in the center of gravity yet, which is a consequence of the natural crookedness. It is probably merely a matter of a couple of days until the stallion will find to suppleness.


10 Days Later

The positive development continues.


Training Step 1 Concluded

Blacksmith Gerd Lamberty takes care of the stallion for the second time. The blacksmith is very happy about the hooves’ development. Faced with such an unusual case of hardship even an expert like him is relieved to see the obvious signs that the applied technique and chosen material do an excellent job. The sloping hoof walls will now have to be corrected slowly but constantly. Gerd Lamberty’s prediction: this will take two years.

The videotaping taken on the same day make it clear: the stallion is now straightened. The back moves upward, the horse has developed regularity and elasticity in movement as well as suppleness. All muscles are optimally supplied with blood, which stimulates the metabolism. This positive body awareness has an impact on the horse’s psyche: Talisman has become much more self-confident throughout the past weeks.


Saddle on the Back

Before the horses are actually ridden, we check very carefully that the horse’s quality of movement is not impaired by the saddle. In a dialogue with Gabriele Rachen-Schöneich the saddle maker Christoph Hubertus manufactures a made-to-measure dressage saddle for the stallion. During several lunging units done with the saddle on the horse’s back, it has to be made sure that the saddle fits without any compromise. As many horses suffer from a saddle trauma, it is crucial to observe them very closely during those lunging units and to determine even the slightest change compared to the lunging without saddle.

Luckily, Talisman does not seem to suffer from bad experiences with saddles. He is now ready to bear a rider, ready for training step 2.


First Riding: Correction of Crookedness Under the Saddle

As expected Talisman's left-hand dominance remains striking under the rider. What has been corrected with lunging training shows up again when confronted with the weight of the rider: movements lack of regularity, the horse falls on his left shoulder and therefore the movement of his left hind leg is delayed.

We now have to help the left-hand dominant horse under the rider to use the same patterns of movement he has learned on the lunge. In this training phase we have to raise up the horse on his dominant side so he can manage the diagonal shift. You can see how he takes more weight on his hind legs and the movements become clearly more regular within only a few minutes.

In the next days it will be the task of ARR rider Martin Hänni to help the stallion to realize what we ask from him.

During this phase of correction the horses at the ARR center (including Talisman) are trained using a simple snaffle bit without noseband and heavy-weight open reins. Problems in connection with the bit (which has not been used in the first step of training) would now become obvious. In addition, the heavy-weight reins are given even more weight using a special martingale, which all together helps to achieve self-carriage and light contact. When employing the open reins to drive the horse, the rider's balanced seat is not disturbed and the horse learns through the combination of rein aids and seat action to react on subtle aids. To achieve optimum weight distribution on the horse back, we put a thick girth (cinch) under the saddle.


Second Riding: The Key To The Horse

The progress compared to the first riding is striking! Klaus Schöneich explains the training under saddle: volte, serpentine and shoulder-in are the biomechanical keys to healthy horses.


Health Care – A Holistic Approach

When a horse is left in our care we observe its physical constitution and its mental state very closely during the first days.
(Text by Gabriele Rachen-Schöneich)

Physical Constitution
Talisman was in desolate condition when he arrived. He was visibly exhausted from the several-day journey and – apart from the appalling hoofs – in bad feeding condition, the muscle tone was very high, the coat was dull and rough, and some parts of the pastern area showed signs of mud fever. In addition, he was eating his own manure. Moreover, it became clear very quickly that he was not able to tolerate dry hay and even less first-cut hay with inflorescences.

Against this background and in agreement with the stallion’s owners a large blood count was arranged.

To compensate deficits – even those we could not immediately determine with the blood count – Talisman was given multi-vitamin and mineral supplements. The blood count revealed increased eosinophils. This corresponded with our supposition of a hay-dust allergy, that had already been indicated by the stallion’s dry coughing. We adjusted the feeding accordingly. In addition, in order to rule out parasites as the cause for the high counts, a deworming treatment was given.

Mental State
From an emotional point of view, Talisman seemed to us over-adapted and mentally switched off. He was close to a burn-out syndrome. During the training he was highly stressed – in his box and in the paddock he was apathetic, sad. The stallion remained in a corner of his box and did not seize the opportunity to look into the courtyard (this possibility is given with all our boxes).

After the training had started and in accordance with the owners, we slowly began a Bach flower therapy. The flower mixture has been put together by our experienced animal health practitioner based on a mane sample and energetic factors and he was given twice a day 6 drops. It was interesting to see that Andrea Lübke-Hayer – without any prior information – composed a flower image that completely corresponded with our observations (see PDF).

After a short time we could already see that the stallion was waking up. He looked at us, interacted with us, looked into the courtyard and began to play with his box neighbors.

He became open to the new kind of training, was concentrated and reduced his stress. A new phase began!

Bone Metabolism
Even though there were no pathological findings during the flexion test and Talisman was free of symptoms during training, we were concerned about his left hock: the stallion was always stressed out when we cleaned the hoof, he jerked his leg up – overstrained. In accordance with the owner, we wanted to get to the bottom of the matter und asked our veterinarian to take x-rays. A small alteration of the trochlear ridge could explain the stallion’s sensitivity when lifting his hoof. The suppleness of the joint could be unpleasantly impaired.

In order to boost the bone metabolism and «grease» the joints, Talisman was given a homeopathic combination remedy. Through the higher demands during lunging work the additives took effect and were metabolized. The results became obvious very quickly: the stallion became more and more subtle during training and it was visibly easier for him to lift his left hind leg hoof. It will be interesting to see if the problem can be solved with further gymnastic training and relaxation.

On The Right Track
The gymnastic lunging training in connection with high-quality shoeing and individual feeding as well as homeopathic therapy and Bach flowers allowed to boost the stallion’s metabolism and thus to markedly improve his general condition.

It was evident that the 17 years old blossomed more and more with every day. His behavior became more and more as you would expect it with a stallion, he showed better muscle building, his coat became pearl white and smooth. We were on the right track!

Only the coughing persisted, also during riding, although he was given only wet hay. Another vet examination made it clear: no infection, but hay-dust allergy. Therefore, our veterinarian prescribed an autohemotherapy to boost the stallion’s immune system and to strengthen its defenses. For this purpose, the veterinarian took some of his blood to extract serum and add some homeopathic remedies to it. This autologous blood was and still is injected subcutaneously every third day. A great success: the coughing is finally under control! Of course, Talisman still needs wet hay as well as exercise in the open air and active training to air his lungs.

Every day the stallion proves his gratitude for our commitment through his high presence, his kindness and his untamable determination to perform. Finally his is able to cope with his legacy of stress.


Flower mixture Talisman (PDF | 55 KB)


Handing-Over to the Owners

After 12 weeks of straightening training at the Center of Anatomically Correct Horsemanship the owners take over the stallion. The handing-over includes an introduction to the longing work and training in the riding hall. White Talisman is now straightened on the ground as well as under saddle. He moves with rhythm, impulsion and suppleness. He can now be ridden with fine hand and without any force application. The basis for more demanding exercises is laid.


Before And After: An Athlete In His Prime

After twelve weeks of training Talisman bristles with self-confidence and power. His new body feeling gives him expression and presence. Thanks to the holistic care and the specific muscular work the stallion is shining again in new, old splendor. «During these twelve weeks ‘Talis’ became rejuvenated by six years», the owners say in amazement.

The charismatic stallion’s unbroken will to perform and his inner calm that captivates everybody are the proof that a healthy body goes hand in hand with a sound mind. Thanks to his athletics and his personal magnetism, Talisman undoubtedly will still inspire many people in the future.

We wish you all the best, Talis!


Talisman: 6 months later

6 months after his stay at the ARR Center we have received these pictures. The owners continued the structured straightness training in order to stabilize the basics he had learned. The stallion enjoys the diversified training program consisting in riding work in the field and in the arena as well as one or two units of lunging work per week.


Happy Birthday, Talis!

One year after he hast left the ARR Center we have received these pictures showing Talisman during his first Training after the winter break. For the occasion of his 19th birthday his mane is plaited. Happy Birthday, Talis!!!