These are pictures (if slideshow isn’t working… the pictures are at the bottom of this blogpost too) of Hippach the day he arrived at the stables. He just got off the trailer and we let him loose in a paddock so he could run and roll and be free for a moment. Hippach is a beautifully bred top-notch dressage horse (Andretti x Jazz x Aktion). Unfortunately, he has a not so happy history. You can see the result in these pictures. When he arrived he was far too thin. He was trained the wrong way. In the picture where he is trotting (and actually in the other two pictures too) you can see this horse wasn’t able to properly carry himself. Most of the weight is on his front legs, which caused him to have pain in his left front leg. Also his back muscles aren’t strong and his belly muscles aren’t either. He is not able to carry a human (he isn’t even able to carry himself in a proper way). Nevertheless… they have been riding him 6 times a week (and he turned 4 in March). That is often the problem with horses who have promising bloodlines… people are in a hurry and don’t offer the horse the time to develop correctly.
So, two weeks after his arrival (and eating and relaxing) we started Straightness Training. I chose Straightness Training because Hippach needs to get stronger back and belly muscles and he needs to learn to use his hind legs. His hind legs need to carry most of the weight and his back needs to relax. Here you see the result after basic Straightness Training (groundwork). In the first pictures you see him standing beautifully squared-up and his hind legs are under him. In the second picture he isn’t standing perfectly square, but you can see his neck is in a lowered position, which means there is less pressure on his back. He isn’t really falling over his front legs either. You can see his posture changed enormously in just one month of light training.
The third picture shows Hippach cantering and you can see how his hind legs are stepping under 🙂 which makes me very happy! Last but not least you see me giving Hippach’s legs a massage. I do that after every training session. It is helping him and it is bonding to us. Can you see the difference? His hind legs are under his body!!
Our training together is very pleasant and positive. If something isn’t working, we just skip that and do something else. There is so much we can do. This way Hippach can’t ever fail. He can only succeed. This doesn’t mean I am not asking enough of him. I do really train him. And I do persuade him to try, but I never push him or force him. And after training and massaging… there is always time to kiss, connect and cuddle.
I hope I inspire you to look differently at your horse and to be very positive. These animals really do try to work with us. This horse was called ‘a danger to the state’, but he is very sensitive and fights back when he feels misunderstood or if he is affraid… And look at him now, a Jazz (which means a hot and sensitive horse) totally coming to life, being very willing to work and respectful.
ps. all pictures by John Burggraaf Photography (johnburggraafphotography.wordpress.com)
‘the day Hippach arrived’
‘last weekend, after a month of Straightness Training’
And some more pictures… showing the kissing, connecting and cuddling which is an important part of training 😀