What Would I Do If I Were Hippach?

When I am training my horse I often wonder what would I like if I were him? He is a very intelligent horse, so he learns very quickly and he needs his brain to be challenged. He is also only 4 years old, therefor I can imagine he likes his training to be playful. Truly it is very important that he learns what I want to teach him, but there is absolutely no harm in making it playful, fun and interesting for the horse. And not to forget, the things I want him to learn are things he needs for his wellbeing.

There is a lot to teach him. This is what we are working on at the moment:
– Straightness Training / Groundwork Classical Dressage to support his back and make him strong and supple;
– Stretching his muscles;
– Picking up his feet… we need the farrier soon 🙂 and of course I need to be able to check his hooves;
– Tying him in the grooming box… he doesn’t panick, but he did find out his 650 kilo wins when he is pulling;
– Examining his mouth / teeth… he needs a dentist 😀
– Staying calm in every situation!

I obviously don’t do all these things everyday. I make sure there is a lot of variety like I did last weekend.

Saturday 😀
We did his regular Straightness Training / Classical Dressage excercises, but I wanted to challenge him a bit more and I want him to be more aware of his hindlegs. This is where the simple but very effective cavaletti enters our training. The cavaletti helps Hippach to realize he has 4 legs ;). It teaches him balance and it excercises his belly muscles and the joints and muscles in his legs. The cavaletti also makes the work more exciting and interesting. I think he will be more confident when he discovers he can do this! So his LFS (Lateral bending, Forward down, Stepping under with inner hind leg) on a small circle in hand got a bit more interesting and challenging for Mr. Beautiful <3.
Merel Burggraaf classical dressage preparation
4 cavaletti dressageHippach’s body is getting beautifully round as he excercises his hind quarter and belly muscles. Notice he is nicely bended to the left and he has his head in a lowered position. This relaxes his back muscles. I want him to be on his hind legs more, but this is all just the beginning!

I also taught him a new way of stretching his back muscles and contracting his belly muscles. It is an excercise Physiotherapists use. After I helped him stretching these muscles I noticed he could easier bend to the right. Before we did this, he wouldn’t keep his head straight (vertically with top of the head/ears parallel to the ground), but he would flip to one side which isn’t okay. I also sometimes heard a crack in his neck (so we are going to see an Osteopath). Now he can properly bend and keep both ears parallel to the ground. More freedom of movement!
1 Merel Burggraaf Hippach dressage classical straightness training physiotherapy stretching yoga horse equine 2 Merel Burggraaf Hippach dressage classical straightness training physiotherapy stretching yoga horse equine
Sunday
Sunday I did his regular LFS training (groundwork Straightness Training / Classical Dressage) and I practised examining his mouth. I could actually open his mouth and feel his gums pretty easily! He never needs a lot of practise. He mostly needs to trust it first and understand what it is you want from him. I also picked up his front feet and that too went far better than before. Last but not least I did all the grooming having him tied up. At least that is what he thought he was… I noticed you always need to be thinking a bit further than the horse does. So I used a long lead rope and I ‘tied’ that to a fence, holding one end because it wasn’t realing tied. It was through the fence and for Hippach that felt like being tied up. So each time he tried to hang back, I asked him one step forward and rewarded his calmness, standing still and stepping forward 🙂 One day he won’t have a problem with tying anymore. I also groomed him next to a horse that was being washed. Hippach is scared of water. This way he can see no horse has ever melted by getting wet 😉

Hope you loved reading our training story!
Love,
Merel

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