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Conference conundrums

Just because it works doesn't make it humane, ethical or good welfare. Nic de Brauwere MRCVS
Before using a training aid consider whether the horse has the capacity to deal with the effect of the aid? Dr. Russell Mackechnie -Guire

Two sound bites from different talks over a packed 2 days of lectures at Horses Inside Out, but very important for therapists and owners to consider together. We have many tools in the box but we should

  1. Consider each horse as an individual - age, stage of rehabilitation and training and the facilities or environment the horse is kept in.

  2. Know the effect of each aid - there is some research now emerging to help us pick the more correct piece of equipment or no equipment!

  3. Consider whether an aid such as pole work or equi bands, for example should be used on or off the horse, combined or used separately.

  4. Know the contra - indications, both for each aid and within a rehabilitation programme. A horse using pole work for example can quite quickly become fatigued whereas when properly designed these exercises can be very beneficial.

  5. Consider the fit of the equipment - a lunge roller can put high pressure on the midline of the horse. Is it appropriately padded and the spine protected? How does the girth sit and is the horse comfortable or reacting adversely when tacked up. What lunge cavesson are you using and does this sit comfortably? Can or should the work be done without a bit and bridle and without undue influence on the horses head and mouth?

  6. How good are your skills? If you are lunging or long lining can you vary the pace and direction rather than keeping the horse on an everlasting 20m circle? Is it better not to ride in the early stages of coming back to work, particularly if the rider is a novice? Is this fair to both horse and rider?

  7. Timing - a little more regularly - just 5 minutes after warm up, may be fairer to the horse than longer more infrequent sessions, building up over the first 2-4 weeks. Are there safe "introductory" settings so that the horse becomes used to the feel of the equipment

It can be both fair and helpful to use training aids when we have identified what we would like to improve and thought about the most effective, evidence backed and comfortable way to put this into practice. All these areas are considered and discussed with you when we are building a fitness or rehabilitation plan for your horse. Practical/arena sessions can be booked with me as well to improve your skills off the horse, Our partnership with Equicantis means that we can send you video clips of exercises and the equipment that we recommend.


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