The Horse Physio - Delivering care with expertise since 1992

27.7 Excerpt from ‘Understanding Horse Performance: Brain, Pain or Training?’

From Chapter 12: Does your horse score 10/10 for comfort?

9. Lungeing in walk, trot and canter

What to do: Lunge your horse for three to five circles on each rein on a safe, soft surface in walk, trot and canter.

The ideal: The horse walks, trots and canters calmly around you in each direction, and appears sound (symmetrical movement) on both reins.

Check: Does your horse nod his head in trot on either rein? Is he ‘naughty’ on one rein but well behaved on the other? Does he have an even stride length in front, if you compare left to right? Does he have an even stride length behind, if you compare left to right? Does he seem to drop his pelvis to the inside more on one rein than the other? Does he drag his hind toes in walk or trot (look for dust being kicked up), or trip or stumble in front or behind at any pace? Does he consistently strike off on the wrong lead in canter on one or both reins, or go disunited on one or both reins? Does he buck on one rein but not the other, lean on the lunge line, or fall in or out through his shoulder?

For the rider / trainer / instructor

If you’re an instructor with a client who’s struggling to achieve what you’re asking of them, you can suggest these exercises and help them to find the right treatment for their horse. They’ll get more from their lessons with you on a horse who’s physically better able to cope, and your obvious care for the horse’s wellbeing will help to build greater trust and respect. If you’re a professional rider and one of the horses you are riding is finding something overly difficult, or not performing as well as you would expect him to, these exercises could help his owner see that his performance might improve further with extra help from a vet or physical therapist. This would allow you to improve your scores, or work or compete him at a higher level, and owners will appreciate your breadth of feel and understanding for the benefit of their horse.

For the therapist

As a saddler, dentist, farrier, or other equine paraprofessional, you can point owners in the direction of this book and these exercises to help them recognise when their horse needs help from another professional as well as yourself. This will make your job easier since you’re not trying to multitask and cover work that others could do more easily, and it further improves the service you are offering to both client and horse. Increasingly clients are (quite rightly) expecting service over and above ‘the norm’, and with so much information freely available on the web, they expect every equine professional to be the fount of all knowledge. Since none of us can possibly know everything (and if someone claims that they do, perhaps they are not the right person to be working with), one priority is to point people in the direction of the right help. The trick is to know when and how to do that, and where to point them. I sincerely hope this book will help, for the sake of ridden horses throughout the world.

“A horse doesn’t care how much you know, until he knows how much you care.” Pat Parelli

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© Sue Palmer, The Horse Physio, 2021

Treating your horse with care, connection, curiosity and compassion

July 27, 2022
Sue Palmer