Denny Emerson shared Tamarack Hill Farm's post. - Equine Health and Welfare

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Denny Emerson shared Tamarack Hill Farm's post.

HCBC Staff
Created: March 10, 2016

The inherent potential for harm and risk in "training" a soft horse into fitness, before the horse's "structures" are ready to handle the stresses is that most training involves asking for degrees of athletic exertion that exceed "even" just walking.

The inherent potential for harm and risk in "training" a soft horse into fitness, before the horse's "structures" are ready to handle the stresses is that most training involves asking for degrees of athletic exertion that exceed "even" just walking.

Even simple seeming things like transitions and circles involve greater use of the hindquarters, and while those skills must eventually be installed, if the horse is a jellyfish, even those "easy" things are not easy.

Heck, who hasn't returned from some sickness or injury to discover that just the act of getting out of a chair, or those first slow steps are hard? Well, just because we riders can't feel what the unfit horse feels doesn't mean that he can't.

So to those who pontificate the "Every time you ride a horse you either train him or untrain him," mantra, you should understand that going for walks ARE training sessions.

We don't simply let the horse wander aimlessly, interfering and overreaching, shuffling along like a grazing cow---at least I don't.

As soon as I can feel that I have some kind of even a start of fitness, I ask for a nice, rhythmic "going somewhere" walk, not yet the 3.7 to 4 mph walk I want from a trail horse that needs to get home in time for dinner, but neither a casual stroll UNLESS I am specifically trying to keep him more calm.

Speaking of which, the calm part, if the only place you have to walk involves crazy drivers and loud distractions, well, I don't know what advice to give---

Walking on terrain IS training, as the horse learns, in an unhassled manner, to negotiate muddy spots, cross little streams, deal with all the sights and sounds he encounters along the way. I don't "put him on the aids" and "train him on the trail" because he is getting all sorts of training without my interference.

Walking uphill, he has to push, downhill, he has to balance---Truly, anyone who thinks that walking does not involve training can not have thought through the process in anything approaching an analytical fashion.
Denny Emerson

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