Why do biomechanics matter even if you don’t want a competition or performance horse ?
– For the health and well being of the horse (to keep them sound).
– The positioning and functioning of the internal organs in the body is compromised when the horse is in poor postural states.
– Your horse will be more enjoyably to ride – your horse will be smoother and less jarring.
– Your steering will be better – a horse on the forehand is like trying to steer a car with two front flat tyres.
– Transitions will be smoother, easier and more responsive. This can happen because your horse will be better balanced.
How and why does having better biomechanics help your horse CONNECT and LIKE YOU more ?
– If what you ask your horse to do makes them FEEL GOOD – they are going to want to be with you, follow your directions and fulfill your requests. To put it simply good biomechanics help horses to feel good.
– If what you ask you horse to do causes them to feel bad, uncomfortable and even be painful they are not going to want to do as you ask, interact or participate. Poor biomechanics cause horses to feel bad.
– Good biomechanics cause riding and ground work to be enjoyable, and relatively effortless and easy.
– Poor biomechanics are straining, tiring, uncomfortable and lead to resistance, evasion and all sorts of other unwanted behaviours.
The teaching and development of good biomechanics should not cause the horse much stress.
– I would like to say no stress but the nature of learning and changing patterns includes some stress. As soon as we or the horse are stretching ourselves out of our comfort zone by changing our habitual patterns some stress be it mental, emotional or physical will come up. However it should be very minimal.
– If there is more than minimal stress we are doing something wrong. Either our understanding of what good biomechanics is, is incorrect, or our way of achieving that aim is incorrect or we are expecting too much too soon.
Good biomechanics cause horses to feel proud, majestic and powerful. At the same time the centeredness and physical alignment required for good biomechanics help them to get mentally and emotionally calm and aligned. From this place joy and pure playfulness can be evoked.
Below is Helium – I was playing at liberty with him and he felt so good that he just wanted to play, just like he would with his horse buddies when they were all feeling good. He was so excited he could hardly contain himself. In this play he wanted to lift, open and stretch his whole spine. This opening of the spine induces play and pure play results in the spine wanting to open up more. Hence bucking is one of the things horses love to do when they play 🙂 Of course bucking can happen for other reasons too for example fear, anger or pain. We have to get good at reading the emotion underlying the behaviour. Here Helium is not bucking but he has lifted and lengthened his whole top line and was moving his head and neck left and right – getting rotational movement down through his spine – a common movement pattern in pure play. There is not much that is better than watching a horse or any being being for that matter, play. Playing in a way where they are experiencing pure joy. Pure joy means that in that moment there is the absence of any other negative emotion. It is contagious, inspiring and invigorating. That’s how I want horsemanship to be with me and my horses. True Connection and great biomechanics create joyful play.