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ETHICAL TRAINING

I do not like to think of what we do as training but more so as educating. Horse training to some is seen as the repetitive drilling of something until it becomes a routine or pattern to the horse. Rather than drill, I see training as an opportunity to educate the horse in a fun and lenient way. Just like many other species, horses retain information faster and are more willing to do so when it is engaging, stimulating and playful, so why not set them up to learn in the best way possible? Our training program strives to teach and give every horse a classical foundation through engaging exercises and play through rewarding desirable movement and tries made by the horse.

In working with horses (and people) I strive to dissect education so that there is a step by step process for each horse and rider. Breaking things down and allowing for the horse to learn helps build a strong foundation and a calm and centered partner. Stress is taken out of the learning process and therefore the horse grows in confidence and understanding. In setting horses up for success in our training program, first and foremost we ensure that all needs are met and go over a checklist to ensure that your horse starts on the right foot. This entails working with other equine professionals to ensure that diet, nutrition, hoof care and saddle/bit fit etc are addressed. It is no secret that discomfort often leads to behavioral issues during training, therefore we seek to eliminate any issues that may stem from routine care. once we have a solid foundation in physical care and comfort, we then create a program for each individual horse!

What is ethical training? In short, we see it as a structured training program that meets the horse's needs physically, mentally and emotionally. You can do everything with all the good intention in the world, but if we are not taking into account how the horse is using their body while working under saddle, we will end up causing pain and doing damage in the long run. And the same is true vice versa, if we solely focus on mechanical movement and disregard the horse's mental and emotional state we are being equally as damaging. Ethical training is the acknowledgement and awareness of all three of these things. 

Michele has created a structured program surrounding this training ideology through developing and combining training methods through an education in equine biomechanics, neuroscience, lameness, behavior and psychology to develop well rounded, fit and happy horses!

So what does "correct" movement  truly mean and how is that achieved? Horses bodies evolved to suspend weight, not carry it! Their bodies are quite amazing and intricate. Unlike us, they do not have a stabilizing structure like the collar bone in their front end, but rather a series of soft tissue structures that connect and stabilize the chest to the front limbs . This mechanism is the thoracic sling and it plays a very important role in the development of a sturdy riding horse (and healthy horse in general!). The thoracic sling is responsible for the "lift" of the chest and withers that plays a role in creating lightness in the front end. Coupled with the ability to articulate the pelvis and in turn lift the back, engagement of this mechanism and the whole body being able to function optimally and with fluidity gives the horse the ability to push back up into our weight in the saddle.

 

Why is this so important if your horse isn't a dressage horse? Because this way of going will lead to stronger and overall healthier horses who will be in less pain for a longer period of time! When horses spend most of their time going around inverted, they create points of tension and compensation in bony and soft tissue. these stress points can lead to a pandoras box of issue and injury. Just a few examples are: kissing spine, tendon injuries, navicular, bony changes and early onset arthritis, muscle atrophy, nerve degradation or pinching, skin pain, muscle pain etc. And in turn, when these issues get overlooked, they contribute to "behavioral" issues when being worked and handled, and this is why I cannot stress enough how important freedom and function are to our horses!

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​​​​The above left image is a young and green Luna, just starting out in her training process on the ground, while the above right image is a developed and mature Luna who has properly developed her "lift" to the point where she will just carry herself in that way without having to manage her movement. development of horses on the ground helps them find their self carriage without complete control of their movement. Micro managing movement is more for the rider than it is for the horse and often leads to tension or restriction. Self carriage comes from within!

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The Lovely Mandi beautifully demonstrates what it looks like for  a horse to be moving in fluidity with a rider and with proper development of ability to "lift". With light aids and cues that were trained on the ground and transfered under saddle, there was much less frustration in developing her self carraige and frame. Positive reinforcement training plays a big role in our training program when it comes to teaching cues/aids and developing movement. So many of us have been taught that because horses are such large animals, that we have to increase pressure to be effective, but through continuing education, we know that this is not the most effective means to teach and train. When used correctly under supervision of a well versed professional, positive reinforcement is a wonderful training tool!

All horses have the ability to do this in the best and most functional way that they can, and deserve to be given that chance.

We cannot expect a horse who has never been worked with correctly to just magically be able to do it and move freely after changing some things around. Depending on the amount of tension, muscle damage and pain, it can take months of undoing before they have the strength for self carriage and to rebuild their muscles. Some horses have such an issue that they need more help than just corrective retraining from the ground up! It is important to have a wonderful team surrounding each horse and rider who work to bring the horse and rider back to balance and function. Some horses may need corrective body work, hoof care, tendon rebuilding and corrections to saddle fit. We must consider all that may effect our horses in a negative and positive way, and make changes accordingly to help them work effortlessly and perform their best! This is why here at In Stride Equestrian Michele has worked to put together a wonderful team of equine professionals to further aid both horse and rider to achieve optimal performance.

Email Michele or send a message to schedule sending your horse in for training!

  • Young Horse Training

    1,500$
    Every month
    Perfect training package to set young horses up for success and build a strong foundation.
     
    • Comprehensive work on the ground and in hand
    • Starting under saddle or restarting
    • Building up their postural muscles and balance
    • Understanding cues for wtc on the ground and under saddle
    • exposure to different elements to build confidence
    • target training to aid in vocal cues and standing tied
  • Body Restructuring Training

    1,750$
    Every month
    Ideal training package for a horse in rehab, coming out of rehab, restarting or needing more help.
     
    • biomechanics based groundwork
    • working with the nervous system to set new movement patterns
    • physical rebuild to help set them up to carry a rider
    • light therapy
    • alternative modalities to aid in physical & emotional growth
    • work under saddle when cleared and appropriate to do so
  • Classical Training

    2,000$
    Every month
    Ideal for horse and rider seeking to further their training and education
     
    • intensive 5 day/week training
    • continued building of strength and balance
    • introduction to upper level movements and high school
    • off property schooling
    • bi weekly lessons with horse and rider
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