One of the most important principles in teaching motorcycle racing is "smooth leads to fast." Riders who ignore this and go out on the track with the first goal of going fast often end up taking a fast ride to the hospital. Horses cover our butts, they don't throw us off as easily as a motorcycle does, but the same applies especially if you want to keep the horse sound and athletic. Focusing on the correct back coordination first, ahead of the desired limb placement is analogous to focusing on smooth before fast on the motorcycle. For example, a half pass in the wrong coordination is just half pass with a silent P. It does damage. Start the half pass slowly with the education focusing on the correct back coordination and it will develop into an extremely useful gymnastic. Asking horses to move faster than their natural cadence, as is so popular today, is likely to cause many bad side effects. One of them is overloading the forehand which can lead to navicular disease. As the horse’s body moves over the forelimb in the stance phase of the stride, the proper kinematics occur when the fetlock begins to move upward as the cannon bone is vertical. If the fetlock is starting to come up after the cannon bone passes the vertical orientation, the deep digital flexor tendon is compressing the navicular bone. It doesn’t necessarily hurt at first. The damage is cumulative just like carpal tunnel syndrome is in humans. Typing from an ergonomically incorrect position doesn’t hurt at first, but when it is repeated on a regular basis, seemingly one day out of the blue, the discomfort turns into pain, damage, and regret for ignoring the early signs. Unloading the forehand is one ingredient of many in the recipe for restoring soundness, preventing lameness and unlocking full athletic potential.
- Category: Biomechanics Tidbits