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?