BET­TER WAY

EQUUS - - Biology -

ACom­pas­sion­ate train­ing meth­ods trans­late to “re­spect­ful and hu­mane” in that our tech­niques do not come from the ego---we are will­ing to quell our in­stinc­tive com­pet­i­tive­ness and feel­ings of “us ver­sus them” in the name of equine wel­fare, above all else.

Be aware of how a par­tic­u­lar train­ing tech­nique may push a horse more quickly than he can com­pre­hend or ask more of him phys­i­cally than his body can han­dle. Some train­ing prac­tices can set a young horse up for a short ca­reer and early on­set lame­ness due to ask­ing for too much, too soon. The same holds true in hu­man sports train­ing and phys­i­ol­ogy, where ex­ces­sive over­train­ing and im­proper mus­cu­lar de­vel­op­ment can lead to early break­down in mus­cles, ten­dons and lig­a­ments and pro­duce lin­ger­ing fa­tigue that re­moves all en­joy­ment from an ac­tiv­ity, if the ac­tiv­ity is pos­si­ble at all.

Com­pas­sion­ate train­ing and rid­ing en­com­passes a fun­da­men­tal un­der­stand­ing of the biome­chan­ics of the horse’s mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem. There are lim­its to the du­ra­tion and in­ten­sity of work­outs, given the horse’s stage of de­vel­op­ment. Even horses used in recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties such as trail rid­ing are sus­cep­ti­ble to in­jury if worked es­pe­cially hard on week­ends then left stand­ing around dur­ing the week with no ad­di­tional ex­er­cise.

Also, keep in mind that horses have a weight-bear­ing load tol­er­ance. Riders are cau­tioned to be aware of ex­ceed­ing the horse’s com­fort zone and abil­ity to carry their weight plus tack with­out do­ing spinal dam­age. It is up to each in­di­vid­ual to be truth­ful re­gard­ing his or her own level of com­pe­tence in ap­proach­ing any method of rid­ing as it re­lates to equine de­vel­op­ment so as to do no harm to the horse.

If we place com­pas­sion at the base for our train­ing, whether for com­pe­ti­tion or recre­ational pur­poses, the horse will ben­e­fit. When we take our ego out of the equa­tion, at least to the de­gree that it is not the dom­i­nat­ing rea­son be­hind our eques­trian ac­tiv­ity, we ex­pand our field of vi­sion to that of ob­serv­ing--not judg­ing---the in­dus­try at large and the wel­fare of all horses.

For our own well-be­ing, we are pos­i­tively af­fected by es­tab­lish­ing a calm, clear state of mind with which to ap­proach and in­ter­act with horses and other horsepeo­ple. If we strive to main­tain that state, we will in­evitably in­spire and ed­u­cate oth­ers to do so as well.

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