It is easy to unconsciously avoid certain elements of training on a daily basis. Over time this causes major problems. We tell ourselves that we are just not going down the other end of the school because we are working on a smaller area, knowing full well that our horse often spooks at the chair, tree, nothing at the other end.
The recent 2017 British Dressage Young Horse Forums which took place over two Mondays in January have gone down a storm, providing an invaluable opportunity to learn from and share ideas with respected figures from within the sport.
Finding relaxation in a position of strength is something my Pilates' instructor said to me recently. The key to most top level sports is training the body to relax in a position of strength, or endurance, or speed. Dressage therefore can be defined as just that: finding relaxation in a position that requires strength, both in terms of horse, and rider.
Researchers Neveux, Ferard, Dickel, Bouet, Petit and Valenchon of the Universities of Caen and Strasbourg carried out a study in which they tested the effect of classical music during stress episodes in transport and farriery. They found that playing music reduced stress during transport, which could lead to safer management practices and better welfare.
Sometimes I wonder if people really know what is important. Of course not everyone places the same importance on the same things, but regardless of what you want in life, there are times when you have to take a step back and make sense of it all.
Researchers Ellisand Greening of The Horse Trust conducted an interesting study on whether scratching a horse is an effective reward while training horses. Riders and handlers are often observed to scratch their horse on the withers following successful completion of a desired behaviour. However the results of their study suggest that this does not necessarily translate across to a training scenario. Food appears to be a more effective reward than a scratch on the withers for horses.