Ed­i­tor’s Note

Practical Horseman - - Special Sporthorse Health Issue - San­dra Oliynyk Ed­i­tor

Ihave two con­fes­sions: 1) Ev­ery time we do an ar­ti­cle about car­rot stretches, I think, I should re­ally do those with my horse. I start to and then get busy and the ef­fort slips away. 2) Af­ter mount­ing, I let my horse walk off be­fore I tell him to.

Guess what two of my new year’s res­o­lu­tions are?

I started to think about these ex­am­ples af­ter read­ing this month’s Spe­cial Sporthorse Health Is­sue. Our ar­ti­cle about the care rou­tines of four equine su­per­stars (page 22) ex­plains that two reg­u­larly do car­rot stretches. It’s such a sim­ple, low-cost way to im­prove a horse’s health. Stay­ing with the con­cept of sim­ple but ef­fec­tive, dres­sage rider Ni­cholas Fyffe talks about be­ing con­sis­tent in what you ex­pect from your horse on the ground be­cause it trans­lates to un­der-sad­dle work (page 46). One ex­am­ple he gives is about train­ing your horse to wait for your walk aids as you mount. Since I want my horse to wait for my aids un­der sad­dle, it makes sense that he needs to do that from the ground up.

More im­por­tant than just giv­ing me some new res­o­lu­tions, though, these two sto­ries and others in this is­sue have made me think a lit­tle more about un­der­stand­ing my horse’s health and build­ing a stronger re­la­tion­ship with him—and how the two ideas are in­ter­twined.

In the care rou­tines story, the rid­ers and care­givers talk not only about their horses’ nu­tri­tion, con­di­tion­ing reg­i­men, leg care and far­rier sched­ule, they share what it means to know their horses—that trust is very im­por­tant for Rass­ing’s Lonoir and Veron­ica; that Cen­ter Court needs a var­ied rou­tine or he gets bored while Lonoir thrives on it; that Zer­e­monie doesn’t like run­ning wa­ter. The story high­lights the idea that health care is based on un­der­stand­ing what makes a horse tick. In other words, it’s about hav­ing a strong re­la­tion­ship.

Do­ing these things will go a long way to at­tain­ing that per­fect ride, where ev­ery­thing feels like it mag­i­cally falls into place—what Olympian Peter Leone calls the “sweet spot” (page 40). “To truly ex­cel, your horse­man­ship must tran­scend cor­rect rid­ing tech­nique,” he ex­plains. “You need an un­der­stand­ing and sense of how to com­mu­ni­cate with your horse at all times, whether you’re on his back or on the ground.”

We hope this is­sue in­spires you to bet­ter un­der­stand the in­ner work­ings of your horse and to con­tinue to build the best re­la­tion­ship the two of you can have. My in­spi­ra­tion will start with car­rot stretches. How will yours?

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