Frequently Asked Questions
This sounds different to me. What does a riding lesson look like? Not easy to answer briefly but I will do my best. It is different. I observe horse and rider through the gaits. I look for opportunities for the horse to improve kinematically. Rider position plays a very significant role and most often we first work on rider adjustments by demonstrating the response of the horse. Pairing the work to the abilities and strengths of both horse and rider is the key. Rider balance and coordination is usually first. Throughout this process I will explain what is going on with the horse's body and explain how and why the rider's body influences it. The knowledge base allows the rider to troubleshoot on his or her own. I work myself out of a job. But that is my goal. I educate.
Does my horse have to be lame for me to take lessons from you? Absolutely not! The equitation I teach is what will rehabilitate horses, but it is also what will protect the horse from lameness.
Do you require horses to be barefoot? Nope. The horse's feet have to be comfortable and many require shoes to be comfortable. The feet need to be balanced correctly. Corrective shoeing can get in the way of creating healthy kinematics.
I have no formal training, should I get some before taking lessons with you? Nope. The only prerequisite is that you love your horse.
My vet said no riding, just hand walking. Is there something that we can start on now? Yes, the in hand work is perfect for this situation. Once the horse can be ridden, some of the education is already started and will translate to under saddle work.
Do you teach children? Yes, I love teaching children.
Do you teach beginner adults? Yes, I love teaching beginner adults. I have experience teaching all levels all ages.
Can you do a seminar for trainers to help us teach our students? Absolutely!
Will you talk to my vet? I don’t understand this stuff. Yes and I want you to be part of the conversation. I will take the time to make sure you do understand. I promise it’s painless.
What training equipment will I need to buy? If you don’t already have them, saddle, bridle, lunge line, lunge ring (ring that attaches to the saddle to pass the lunge line through), dressage whip. Inquire for specific details. I don’t use any other training equipment mostly because gadgets encourage bad kinematics and because I love simplicity and hate wasting money. If you don't have a saddle, talk to me about saddles. Some styles are going to cause problems.
Do you use bits and nosebands? The whole bit controversy really should be an outrage against the way bits are used. I’m tempted to say “hands” but it’s not just hands, it’s back, shoulders, arms, balance, and ideas. I teach equitation of NO weight on the bit and therefore balance. The bit is a tool of precision feel and as the rider learns to use it for this purpose it’s a great tool. I’m not opposed to nosebands if they are loose.
It is fair to ride an arthritic horse? I had that question in the back of my mind as I was beginning this journey and now I have an answer. Once you know how to help them, it is not fair to leave them uneducated. Whether or not the horse can be ridden depends on how far the pathology has already progressed. The work, either under saddle or in hand, creates new healthy kinematics that will, at least, bring comfort, and at the most, stop the progress of pathology. Only through correct motion can this be done. Chiro and massage therapy just chase around protective muscle contractions while giving temporary relief. Knowing how to help them long term through motion, to me it becomes somewhat unfair to throw a lame horse out to pasture with no help. It's analogous to denying a human the physical therapy needed to assure a successful rehabilitation.
Are you in favor of or opposed to competition? I competed. I loved it. I won a lot. I don't compete at the moment but can't say I won't again. I am not at all opposed to competition. I am opposed to sacrificing the horse's soundness for competition and especially for winning. It can and should be done without sacrificing soundness. It is easy to do with the right knowledge and equitation, but it's not what is popular.
How long does rehabilitation take? That is impossible to answer in terms of specific duration. It depends on too many factors, but a stab in the dark: 3 months to 3 years. If you are expecting a 30 day rehabilitation, you don't understand the rehabilitation that I teach. I offer long term rehabilitation, not rehab to get a horse sold quickly or rehab to get the horse in a show ring next month. That's what steroids, anti-inflammatories and painkillers are for, and in those cases, the horse will break down faster than if s/he were educated to use kinematics that don't cause damage. My interest is in educating a horse so the horse learns how to use the correct kinematics automatically through efficiency in high balance control. This is why it is extremely important to address aberrant kinematics before there is pathology. Once there is pathology, rehabilitation is often possible and successful, but the scar tissue will detract from the horse's full athletic potential. If you are in a hurry, I am not interested in helping because it is unrealistic. New CPG's have to be created and that takes repetition of correct kinematics. Correct kinematics take time to develop. Strengthening of structures reflecting the new kinematics takes time. Equitation that supports correct kinematics takes time to learn. This requires long term dedication to continual learning and a lot of practice.