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    Main | Your Horse - An Athlete You Can Ride »

    Can Training Straighten Out a Horse?

    Proper training is important to achieve the desired performance in a horse. No matter what the discipline, from Polo to Dressage, the execution requires not only rider-horse cooperation, but optimum biomechanical function of all components of the horse's body that contribute to proper movement. 

    Repetition of required motions in each discipline develops the strength, endurance, and coordination of muscular groups needed to excel in competition. However, more is needed for a horse to properly develop the muscles and skills to not only effectively perform, but to ward off overwork, stress, and injuries. 

    Many trainers mistakenly believe that a horse can be “trained straight”. For example, a horse has difficulty turning to the right, and so the trainer forces the horse into repetitively turning to the right by riding in increasingly tighter circles to the right. The problem with this approach is that the horse's reluctance to turn one way is not usually a case of simple stubbornness, but a biomechanical imbalance issue that needs correction. Forcing the desired movement on the horse can actually aggravate and worsen the issue. 

    We can draw parallels to this with the vehicle you drive. If you find that your car wants to pull to the right while driving, does your mechanic ever tell you to drive it repeatedly around the block in a counterclockwise fashion until it straightens itself out? Or perhaps an alignment is in order, followed by a thorough evaluation of the suspension components? Well of course. 

    Another example would be the horse that seems to have apparent overdeveloped musculature on one side, causing imbalances in the overall motion. Again, some trainers mistakenly force movements on the horse that focus stress on opposing (deconditioned) muscle groups in an effort to make them “catch up” to achieve symmetry. This approach too can aggravate the underlying conditioning issue. 

    In human sports conditioning, symmetry is extremely important to achieve first, in order for muscles to properly develop. Muscles that anchor to the spine, hips and shoulders will refuse to develop and strengthen properly if there is asymmetry and imbalance at the attachment points. For example, in few athletic events is symmetry more important than bodybuilding. Could any bodybuilder effectively compete with a scoliosis (curvature of the spine: one shoulder higher, one hip higher, etc.)? Even if you have no desire to watch a bodybuilding competition, you can take my word for it – essentially no. 

    Bodybuilders as well as virtually all competitive athletes know that outside help from chiropractors, physical therapists, and other bodywork specialists is essential to achieve optimum biomechanical balance before they can effectively train and develop their muscles to compete in their chosen sport. They also make use of state-of-the-art technologies to accelerate muscular conditioning and performance (just like Dr. Reuben will do on your horse)! 

    So take a tip from the world of human athletes. A horse is also an athlete, no matter what the discipline, and must be treated as such if you want the best out of them. Then, you will find training progressing much faster, with greater ease, and perhaps with more fun for you and your horse.

    Equine Sport Performance is dedicated to providing the finest in state of the art procedures to keep your horse's back and neuro-musculoskeletal systems balanced, conditioned, and functioning at maximum efficiency, providing maximum benefits to your horse at minimal cost to you.


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