If you have read the book ‘Correct Movement in Horses’ by the Schoeneichs you will know that they have, for over 25 years, been concerned with improving the straightness and balance of horses to aid soundness and ridden longevity. If you haven’t read this book then endeavour to make it the number one position on your book shelf! Then find out where Herr Schoneich is lecturing or teaching or working with horses and make it your mission to listen to him instruct about horse biomechanics and the way to change quite ordinary or compromised horses into majesty.
Meeting Herr Schoneich listening to him talk, listening to his passion, watching him work, watching him teach others is an inspiration. His energy, enthusiasm and skill is quite extraordinary. Watching the horses learn to balance by themselves and find the pleasure and calmness in a bio-mechanically positive posture and way of moving is spell-binding and it is something that you can learn to do with your own horse.
Schoeneich Horse Straightness Training and Philosophy
The horses natural gait transpires against it whilst ridden.
The normal/natural movement of horses is not one which can be ridden.
In the natural gait the shoulders are pushed down by the trapezius muscle and horse falls on the forehand.
Forwards and downwards should be the natural way of the horse but a 2/3 year old horse when lunged in the round pen for the first time can’t stretch. The surprise is that horses trained to Grand Prix level don’t move differently on the lunge for the first time either when without auxillary reins and in the round pen.
The trapezius muscle blocks the shoulder which results in the front legs becoming more fixed.
The challenge is hanging in the shoulder blades because the trunk is suspended from the shoulder blades.
Today we are not preparing the horse to be mounted. The secret of the old masters was to teach the horse to lift the trunk and to change the natural gait.
Natural crookedness exists in horses as much as it does in humans, horses like us are either right or left dominant.
If the horse is not straight, if the horse is not bio-mechanically changed then the trapezius muscle creates front end heaviness and with it more and more crookedness.
A right forelimb dominant horse will shorten the stride to the right because of the loading of the right forelimb. The right hind cannot then take the same stride length as the left so hind limb movement becomes uneven. Here is where the diagonal shift starts to cause more and more crookedness.
The horse travelling to the handed side on a circle will be subject to shear force.
The horse travelling to the non-handed side will be subject to centrifugal force.
A right handed horse on the right rein is hollow on the left.
A left handed horse on the left rein is hollow on the right.
Set the horse on the centre of gravity and most problems go, the solution is to change the diagonal shift to the outside hind leg.
The start of this is flexibility of the neck in motion, if you want to reach the shoulder you need to free the neck first.
Freeing the neck, frees the shoulder which means the trapezius muscle can then raise the forelimbs which then lifts the forehand.
If you can get to this place then you will start to see the back swing in an upward motion, then positive waves develop and lead to physical relief from strain in the whole body. Then you will see a horse which works truly through its back, such a horse is magnificent!
The change of eye movement is crucial to achieving correct work in the round pen. Change the eye from rolling to the outside to being with you in the centre and you will start to see the posture change.
The flight animal will always try to look to the outside of the circle, start to change the eyes and you will change the body.
Ridden danger points! ….. If the saddle is pressing on the trapezius muscles this will send the horse back into flight biomechanics and you will get a blocked shoulder.
Flexion is the stabilising of gravity and allows the freeing of the trapezius muscle.
All of the work in the round pen and on a circle is preparing the horse for ridden work, shifting weight to the outside hind leg, shifting the diagonal will result in the horse asking for contact.
If you want to have contact the horse must ask you for it.
The horse has to go to the outside rein and the outside leg, the training in the round pen teaches the horse this.
The Next Horse Straightness Training Clinic
Klaus Schoneich will be returning to the UK in 2019. If you would like to learn more about the horse straightness training work of the Schoneich’s at the ARR Centre in Germany please visit their website.
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