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 Isla Adderson

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FOLLOW ALONG WITH PHOEBE...

Progress Report #1 November 2017

Phoebe and her horse, Holly, came to me as a very troubled pair.  They each desparately wanted to communicate with each other, but both were frustrated with their situation of misunderstandings, and just did not know how.  Phoebe, at 20 years old, knew that she needed help, and she was diligently searching.  Her very strong intuitive connection with Holly led her to gain the education that she needed to become Holly's partner.  I have taught Phoebe over the past several months, happily watching her progress.

We would like to share with you, Phoebe's journey to become a fine horse woman, with Holly.  We hope you will check in with us frequently, and if you have and questions or comments, please send us an email....Christine

My horse Holly and I arrived at ForTheHorse at the end of March 2017 to fully immerse ourselves in training with the School of Légèreté. The past few months have brought fantastic improvement, within our riding, and Holly’s attitude, posture and balance have positively changed.

Holly is a 14 year old Appaloosa cross mare, who sustained a large injury to her left shoulder as a 4 year old. This injury set her back in training, and although she recovered and no longer showed lameness, she did develop balance problems which compromised her movement. Often, these problems would present themselves as bucking and balking under saddle, and were assumed to be behavioural. She would reach a certain point in training, and then become sour. Over the last several years she did not receive consistent training and riding due to these recurring setbacks.

Pictured above, some small but noticeable changes in Holly's posture, her weight is no longer so shifted forward, her forelegs are more upright underneath her, her neck and hindquarter musculature has developed, and she is standing with her trunk more supported and not hanging. 

When we first arrived at ForTheHorse, we spent time improving the clarity in communication between horse and rider during our training. We developed a language of cues which helped reduce confusion and frustration on Holly’s part. She became much less reactive and confrontational towards being worked. We also spent time correcting Holly’s hooves and improving her trim. We improved her front feet especially, which set her balance more on the back of the heel, allowing her front legs to be at the appropriate angle to support her forehand.

We furthered our training by beginning inhand and under saddle work to help Holly improve her balance and her ability to carry a rider. From the very beginning, with everything we worked on, balance and symmetry were the priority. Holly’s conformation predisposes her to having most of her weight on the forehand, and due to her injury, her balance was very shifted to one shoulder. She was very collapsed at the base of her neck and she moved with her ribcage and sternum hanging. This made it very difficult for her to be able to support a rider and left her hindquarters disconnected from the forehand. She had trouble moving forward with a rider, and would become anxious, which she communicated with her balking, popping up, and bucking. With in hand work, we were able to teach her how to shift her balance and carry herself in a productive way before doing more ridden work, which reduced her stress and kept both of us safer. We were also able to integrate bodywork into the training sessions to help her with any restrictions and dissipate tension before it could expand into a physical reaction.

In walk, Holly is now traveling in poll flexion. The base of her neck is shifted up and back, helping to lift weight off of her forehand. In the before picture, it is easy to see how far forward her weight used to be shifted, and her back is sunken, disconnecting her hindquarters.

Holly’s strength has improved remarkably during the past few months. Helping her find balance through training instead of pushing her and expecting her to figure out her own movement has decreased a lot of her anxiety about being ridden. Working her in a consistent and biomechanically correct manner has helped improve her posture and movement even when she is not being worked. She stands more supported under herself, the base of her neck has shifted back and up, and she is not so collapsed through the ribcage. My mare is much more willing to be worked and ridden and is learning to enjoy it. I am so grateful for what I’ve learned here at ForTheHorse and I’m excited to see how much more Holly and I learn and improve in the next few years!

In trot, Holly is also now working in poll flexion, helping her lift her sternum and ribcage to support me, and is travelling in a less downhill manner.

 

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Photo credits:  ForTheHorse and Candice Camille

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Phoebe Wrangler