Sustainable dressage – horses

Astrid Hoppenbrewers of Horses in Hands.

horse welfare and sustainability; These are the current issues in the equine sector. When we talk about horse care, it often refers to the way horses are housed. That’s right, because free movement and spacious chests in which a horse can lie outstretched are important to a horse’s mental and physical health. But the discussion about horse care revolves primarily around the issue of housing, while training can also be viewed critically. The job of the horses in the hands is to keep the horses healthy.

We understand that an ideal housing situation is not always achievable, because government and budget can pose difficult obstacles for an entrepreneur. However, this does not have to be a difficult problem for the private horse owner: you can choose whether or not to house your horse in a place that meets the horse’s natural needs. Guide your choices by insight into your horse’s needs, not the beliefs of the group of horse owners with whom you feel at home. To give an example: My sport horses are in the meadow from 9 am to 5 pm and then in a 35 square meter box where they can relax, lie down, and check their hay rations. Horses need freedom of movement, but horses have also learned that safe housing and private space also have advantages. You are not a bad horse if your horse is not out 24/7.

train intensely

Horse training is also a much discussed topic. On social media in particular, but also in the aisles of boarding houses or equestrian events, a group of horse lovers appear themselves, according to animal activists, who believe that a horse should not be trained extensively ‘because it does not choose to.’ Unfortunately, the opposite is Right: If you sit on a horse, make sure you train intensely, because the carrying capacity with which it has to support your weight is a matter of torso stability. Those who regularly go to the gym know the effort required for basic stability training. This applies to us, and this applies on horses.

What is important in training is to preserve weak structures such as joints, tendons, and ligaments. This condition is met once the horse is in 100 percent equilibrium. If so, you can start working on building muscle strength. However, things don’t always go well there. We regularly see riders who have a hard time performing all kinds of complex exercises, with which the horse struggles, whether with an open mouth or wagging tail or not, assuming they are ready for the higher dressage classes. And this is where the welfare of horses is at stake. Because such a horse suffers from discomfort and is also at risk of overload and injuries. And this is exactly where the issue of horse welfare changes to the issue of sustainability. Keeping your horse full: This is our translation of sustainability. So our mission is: keep horses healthy!

create conditions

Although sustainability is a hot topic in the equestrian sector, it is as old as the road to Rome. From Xenophon to De La Guérinière to Steinbrecht, people work on sustainability by describing the training principles that make horses suitable for the weight of a jockey. Together we call these training principles dressage and can be found at Skala der Ausbildung, which still constitutes the guideline for proper training, both in competition and beyond, and whether you have a sport horse or a recreational horse.

Dressage is simply about learning optimal balance while holding a horse for a rider. Training principles from classical dressage were developed to achieve this balance, with the goal of keeping horses complete. Balancedly, the horse puts no stress on its joints, tendons, and ligaments, but is able to tighten the rig, keep its back muscles in comfortable contraction, keep the spine stable, and gently ease its steps. Stand on the balance beam for yourself to experience how this works. With Horse Balance you can work on developing muscle strength and flexibility. Hence, sport is as healthy for the horse as it is for us. If you train in this way, your horse will remain perfect too. It’s not about performance but about training conditions to make that performance intuitive. This message is the spearhead of sustainable policy and this is what we focus our services on.

Teaching, education and training

We do this through education, education and rehabilitation. During the instructions, we teach riders to feel what is happening in the horse’s body in the process of training towards balance; During education, we explain how this body is brought together and how anatomical structures move with each other so that the rider can give meaning to that feeling, and during rehabilitation we teach horses again to achieve balance, through penetration of compensation patterns and other behavior under the saddle that leads to healthy movement pattern We also use water training for this.

The increased interest in athletic performance in recent decades has partially pushed the principles of classical training into the background. Very few riders realize that even a talented horse needs systematic training to exhibit desirable behavior under the saddle. Many riders train competitively every day, regardless of the evolution of the horse. But no matter how talented a horse is, repeating exercises from experience over and over until performance is acceptable or perfect has two drawbacks. First, the value of training is low. A horse does not systematically learn how to use its body to perform a correct exercise. Secondly: Frequent repetition of exercises increases the risk of overloading and thus injuries.

keep it whole

Especially now that our sport is so often negative in the news, it’s important to go back to old values. At a time when anatomy was an emerging field of research, our classical teachers were aware that horses were not fit for sitting. However, they wanted to use the horses’ speed and maneuverability to the benefit of the cavalry. And so they developed taming. Now that the social necessity of using horses is long gone, and horses only for our happiness, it is very important to delve into the anatomy and biomechanics of the horse to understand what we do with the when we drive. After all, we use the body of our dearest animal!

We logically relate our therapeutic background to the principles of classical dressage training. We believe it is important to share this knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics to show riders and educators why classic Skala training principles are important when we talk about horse care. We find it crucial to teach jockeys and trainers to feel just how vulnerable a horse’s body structures are, in order to make the right choices in training. Developing the right sense helps you become a confident rider. The effectiveness of your aids increases, and the required performance is a logical consequence of smart training. Do you want to learn how? Call Horses in Hands. Via 06-386942 62.

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