Sarah, a 43-year-old brunette with the tan, toned arms of a longtime equestrian, was visibly frustrated. She had hit a disappointing roadblock in her training.
Despite working with a respected dressage instructor, Sarah was beginning to feel as if her imported warmblood would never do well in dressage.
Her horse, an eight-year-old Dutch warmblood named Ace, had lovely conformation and an impressive pedigree. Generally easy-going and amiable, the bay gelding became tense whenever a rider asked for any degree of collection.
A tenacious researcher, Sarah had already explored medical, diet, training, turnout and saddle-related reasons that could prevent a horse from rounding his back and engaging his hindquarters. But despite all her expensive efforts, her horse was getting more resistant. She constantly worried that his back might be sore and tight. No wonder Sarah was frustrated!
When Sarah heard about my work, she figured that one more opinion couldn’t hurt. And less than five...
Does your horse pin his ears when you tighten the girth? Does he get grumpy, swish his tail or threaten to bite or kick when you cinch him up? Does your horse seem to hold her breath (“blowing up” or “bloating”) when you’re tacking her up?1
Any of those reactions would fit the definition of a “girthy” or “cinchy” horse. Cinchy horses are so common that many equestrians think nothing of it. But resistance during tacking up can set the tone for your whole ride, and lead to diminished equine performance too.
Tying your horse up short may prevent you from being bitten, and disciplining your horse may discourage the biting, kicking, or tail swishing, but neither method will improve how your horse feels about saddling. In fact, punitive measures usually increase tension in your horse’s mind and muscles.
That’s no way to build a trusting relationship with your horse! Plus, it can lead to diminished performance and a...