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You can't run before you can walk.

“You can't run before you can walk”

Is a saying most of us will have heard at some point. Our human offspring of course need to do just that, Learn to walk!

It would be impossible for it to be any other way. In fact we as infants need to learn a whole heap of other things too before we can learn how to walk.

Can this process be rushed? Of course not, it takes the time it takes to first find the coordination to crawl, then develop the strength to stand up whilst holding on for balance and finally combine coordination balance and strength to take our first steps.

Our horses however can walk and run within hours of being born. They don't need to learn any of this, they are born with this ability.

What our horses are not born with is the ability to carry a rider. This is our job to build the balance, coordination and strength to carry us correctly. Can this process be rushed? Of course not! But unfortunately horses are expected to

“run before they can walk”!

In the photos below is a cob named Dazzle with his owner Karen.

It's taken a long time for Daz to build the strength and coordination to learn how to use his thoracic sling correctly and not lean on the hands. He's been trained for many months with a high neck and an open angle to the poll with frequent neck extension. Exercises to help deal with the natural asymmetries in his body so he can balance the shoulders equally. Care has been taken with his impulsion, Daz would either have good forward impulsion and lean on the hands or become light in the hand and look slow and lazy. And great care has been taken to educate his mouth so he can remain relaxed and listen to the hands. Balance, relaxation and impulsion need to be in equal measures. We need to focus on all three at all times.

To include poll flexion too soon would be a disaster for Daz. But now he is light in the hands, flexible and balanced. The time has come for rounding and flexing the poll.

Karen is doing a super job. She has spent all her life not wanting to ride in the school because (in her words)

“i didn't know what i was doing. I gave up on lessons years ago as it never made sense to me and I thought I wasn't good enough! “

Well look at them now! Taking the time it takes to teach the rider to teach their horse to become the best they can be is what I live for.

Don't expect your horses to run before they can walk. Teach them to use their bodies correctly and all horses will come to a high level.

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