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The effects of training aids on horses.

Can anyone relate to these questions below?:

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธHow many of you use training aids for your horses?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€Which training aid do you use?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธWhat do we mean by a training aid?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€Is there such a thing as the BEST training for your horse?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธShould we be changing the training aid as the horse changes posture?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€How do we know if the training aid is having a positive or negative effect on our horseโ€™s posture and way of going ?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธHow many of you are thinking about what the ethical considerations to the use when applying a training aid on your horse?

If you can relate to any of these questions above, then please join me on this path of curiosity when it comes to figuring out ways of improving the lives of our horses.

I often get asked about the use of training aids for horses, particularly, which training aid to buy. Firstly, I always feel grateful and thankful that I am in such a fortunate position whereby my clients ask before they buy. My response normally goes something like this:

โ€œThank you for asking this question and I would like to respond by asking the following questions:

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธWhat are we trying to achieve by using a training aid?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€Will this training aid improve my horseโ€™s way of going ?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธAre the mechanics of this training aid similar to when I ride?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€What pressure is this training aid creating through my horseโ€™s body?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธIs there ANY valid and reliable results which support the effectiveness of training aid for my horse in his/her current training level?

Before we think about putting ๐’‚๐’๐’š training aid on our horse, we need to ask why.

๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธWhy am I thinking about the use of a training aid for my horse?

๐Ÿด Step 1 :

๐˜š๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ต ๐˜ฃ๐˜บ ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ฆโ€™๐˜ด ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ข ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ค ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฅ๐˜บ๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ค ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ฆ and then depending on your skill level further testing through flexion tests can be performed. Apply the "kiss theory"

๐™†= ๐™†๐™š๐™š๐™ฅ

๐™„= ๐™„๐™ฉ

๐™Ž= ๐™จ๐™ž๐™ข๐™ฅ๐™ก๐™š


What do you notice when assessing their posture? Are there any asymmetries? Differences in flexion and extension right to left?

If you are struggling with these answers, please do not hesitate to contact me for further information and advice ( re: postural help).

๐Ÿด Step 2:

๐˜œ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜บ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜บ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ.

There will always be a why and reason behind any asymmetry and weakness through your horseโ€™s body. Speak to a professional who is experienced in anatomy and the practical application to the performance horse. I would recommend taking advice from someone who assesses your whole horse, from the hoof balance to the teeth symmetry. This is a perfect opportunity to get all of your paraprofessionals together and communicating! What do I mean by paraprofessionals?

  • Vet

  • Farrier

  • Saddler

  • Dentist

  • Therapist

All of the above practitioners would have spent time and investment into learning how to improve your horseโ€™s welfare and therefore, instead of you guessing, seek advice from the professionals. To counter my above statement, you (as we all do) have the right to ask questions and I always tell my clients to ask questions ! If a practitioner suggests something that you do not agree with, then question them!

๐˜ฝ๐™š๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™˜๐™ช๐™ง๐™ž๐™ค๐™ช๐™จ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™–๐™จ๐™ ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™ฆ๐™ช๐™š๐™จ๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™จ ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™ฌ๐™š ๐™ก๐™š๐™–๐™ง๐™ฃ, ๐™๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™ฌ๐™š ๐™œ๐™ง๐™ค๐™ฌ ๐™–๐™ฃ๐™™ ๐™ช๐™ก๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™ข๐™–๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ก๐™ฎ ๐™ž๐™ข๐™ฅ๐™ง๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฉ๐™๐™š ๐™ก๐™ž๐™ซ๐™š๐™จ ๐™ค๐™› ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™๐™ค๐™ง๐™จ๐™š๐™จโค๏ธ

๐Ÿด Step 3:

๐˜˜๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ ๐˜ด๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ต. Being open, honest and recognising our own limitations is vital when it comes to helping our horses. Ask yourself honestly:

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธHow experienced am I with the use of this training aid?

๐Ÿคทโ€Do I know what to look for on the lunge?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธWould I be able to recognise when my horse is tired with the use of this training aid?

๐Ÿคทโ€ How often would I need to use this training aid to get the desired effect?

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธDo I understand the anatomy of my horse and what impact this training aid is creating ?

๐Ÿด Step 4:

๐˜”๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ง๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ. Horses are not machines. Such a recognisable statement, but how many of you ask yourselves this? For those of you who train and go to the gym, you will hopefully relate to this feeling. Some days you feel on top of the world and on other days you feel like staying in bed and eating everything from โ€œnaughtyโ€ cupboard. Why would horses not have the same feelings?

I really canโ€™t stress how important the process of monitoring is and its ability to bring up patterns that can be easily overlooked. If you would like more information on training diaries and or rehabilitation diaries, please visit my website - shop page for more information.

Click on the link below:

๐ŸดStep 5:

๐˜ž๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฅ. This is such an important statement that we should all ask ourselves. The use of a training aid should vary depending on:

โœ… horseโ€™s posture

โœ… desired outcome

โœ… horseโ€™s weaknesses

โœ… YOUR skills/ lack of

We need to start thinking about the ethical considerations that the use of training aids has on the relationship between the nervous system, your horseโ€™s posture and their predisposition to injury. One of the biggest factors that is often overlooked is:


= the bodyโ€™s ability to recognise where it is in space.

= gait movement awareness

Many of you will know that my fundamental focus when creating therapeutic programmes for your horses is proprioception. If your horseโ€™s are not aware of where they are placing each limb and their body in relation to their surroundings, how can we improve their way of going? We can take this one step further and ask ourselves, is there any restriction within the anatomy of our horses?

๐Ÿฆด๐˜๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฎ= ๐˜ง๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ

Why is this important in relation to proprioceptive training?

If there is any restriction within the joints affecting their range of movement (ROM), how fair is it to apply a mechanical force (from either a training aid or rider) into a posture that they may not be familiar with? If we think about the horseโ€™s thoracic spine, each intervertebral segment has a specific and individual ROM which together with the musculoskeletal system helps your horse move.

Now, imagine if your horse has a restriction within the joints which is limiting their ability to move optimally, and then we apply a training aid, fixing and adding further restriction to those joints, what effect would that have on your horse's posture and movement?

By adding further mechanical restriction (use of a training aid) we are doing two things:

  • Generating more stress โŒ

  • Increasing tension and further compensation through the body. โŒ

This makes me refer back to an earlier question,

๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธWhy are we using this training aid?

Surely the aim for training, whether it be ridden or inhand is to help guide our horseโ€™s musculoskeletal system to perform optimally. If we are applying a training aid which is creating tension then we are not teaching and allowing our horseโ€™s to explore their range of moment (ROM)

๐Ÿ˜ฃ๐˜›๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ

Horseโ€™s need to learn to explore their bodyโ€™s ROM. Many people recognise that they do not want their horse to walk, trot and canter around like a giraffe (no offence to a giraffe), but then how effective and fair is it to force your horse into โ€œa desired outlineโ€? Forcing your horse into what is the โ€œdesired outlineโ€ can be just as detrimental to their posture and way of going then the giraffe! The aim is to allow your horse to explore their ROM within minimal if any force applied.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for part 2.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me:

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