« Djarra, travelling together
Wednesday October 5 2022

Team work in training a horse

How to get a happy healthy horse often is team work. So I will share the journey I had with Hudson to give you an example of how teamwork can really make a lasting change. It took us more than three years.

When I met Hudson he was not happy and not healthy and very difficult to ride. He did not want to be lunged but he loved jumping. On and off unsound and very flat sensitive feet. But a lovely horse and I started to work with him, because for my own mental health I needed a horse in my life! I rode and worked with him three times a week and I also taught the owner. He was not in a good place physically, mentally and emotionally.

Riding him showed how “on the forehand” he was, all his weight on his front legs. This made it difficult to accelerate,  turn and slowdown. Together with this he had no vertical balance, he always fell into a turn, he often veered to left or right when without a fence or wall next to him. These issues often occur when there are physical problems.

* A chiropractor helped for almost 2 years on a regular basis to make sure he could use his hind quarters and back properly and that he could take more weight there.

* Training from the ground in lateral work helped him get the strength and flexibility to properly work from behind. To get him off being “on the forehand” and getting a good horizontal balance.

* The owner changed his diet and changed yards to give him more time in the field all year round and 24/7 in the summer. This cleared up his is gut issues. Imagine having an upset tummy and asked to run around, that does not make you happy!

After two years we got stuck. I knew with all the work we had put in he should be making more progress into collection work. But he could not do it. He was also still standing with his face in a corner when in a stable and could be reluctant to start to move. I could not find the root cause of his “problem” because clearly he still was not a happy horse. Healthy yes but not happy ….

* A craniosacral therapist who had worked on me was brought in. She found and worked on a very old injury high up in his neck. Effecting his skull and jaw. The almost immediate change in Hudson was remarkable. It took two session! We believe Hudson might have suffered with headaches his whole life, hence the standing with his face in corner not willing to move.

* The training now changed since he could finally just relax into my hands when I asked him to collect more from behind. The issue in his neck had been stopping that!

Last Friday Hudson left on his way to Cork to join his owner as a very happy, healthy horse. Over the years the owner has gained more knowledge in understanding his behaviour and helping him stay healthy and happy. So I am a little bit sad that my buddy is going away, but I am so happy that we have been able to turn his life around. It was not a quick fix but it will give him a new lease on life.