Copyright © 2018 Nobackpain.dk v. Linda & Palle Thilqvist
Classical Foundation Training
Introduction to Art2Ride
Lucky Lady in 2015 before we started of Art2Ride traning
Art2ride - Classical
Noller enjoying a treat
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Peter Horobin Ambassador
And that's where Art2Ride stands out from many other trainers and training methods. Even though many trainers use the training scale, the horses don't develop quiet as they were supposed to.
Lucky Lady in 2018 after 2 eyars of Art2Ride training
To me, my horses are living proof that it works.
In November 2017, William Faerber, the founder of Art2Ride, asked if I wanted to join the Art2Ride trainer program. And so, I did. I am still in training within Art2Ride, currently I am approved to teach work ind hand, lunging and basic riding. In this article I will talk about Art2Ride in general and how it differs from other trainings methods.
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No Back Pain
This should have been my first newsletter about Art2Ride, but it turned out to be much more than just that, when Palle first got started.
I have 4 Danish warmbloods in the age 7 to 20 years old, which I have worked exclusively according to Art2Ride´s principles since March 2016. Two of the horses where retired before I started because of Wear and tear, but today I have 4 riding horses. The horses have developed incredibly muscularly since I've started. Physiotherapist, saddle fitter and others who have seen the horses has rarely seen horses with such strong toplines. I am so incredible grateful for Art2Ride. My horses have never been or looked better compared to now. Every day I am looking forward to work my horses and I never feel the same frustration as I did before.
Art2Ride is not a new training method, it is simply classical foundation training of the horse. Classical foundation training is all about optimizing the horse’s gaits and develop and strengthen the horse so that it also with a rider on its back can move optimally. Just like with the training scale Art2Ride´s foundation training is all about rhythm, Suppleness/relaxation and contact/connection. In this part of the training the horse will learn to work over its back. Or it's supposed to learn that.
Does it make a difference?
William Faerber and Karen LosBaugh from the USA are the founders of Art2Ride. They help people all over the world, through lessons, clinics and videos on the internet. In this way they try to pass on their knowledge about the classical foundation training of the horse, hoping that more horses will have a longer and healthier life.
20 years old Regitse in the lunge line. notice how it looks like she is walking "uphill" even though she is stretching deep.
Within Art2Ride we don't compromise
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Within Art2Ride we don't compromise with the classical foundation training. It is this part of the training that will take the longest after that everything will be so much easier. The horse is not built for us to ride it, therefor we will have to prepare it for the ridden work. We have to make the horse strong enough to carry a rider before we begin to ride it. And the horse has to learn how to use itself properly when there is a rider on its back. All horses, no matter breed and discipline should have a classical foundation training.
Work in hand with Lucky Lady
The horse has to work over its back
The most important thing in the foundation training is that the horse learns to work over its back. Within Art2Ride we teach the horse to do that with the work in hand and lunging, without the weight of a rider. The horse has to be relaxed but at the same time moving actively forward. The horse must step under itself while stretching its topline. In the beginning the horse will need to stretch almost to the ground to be able to bring its hindlegs deep under its body. The suppler and more flexible the horse gets, the more it will be able to step under with its hind legs and by that put more weight on its hind end.
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The horses today
The horses of today generally moves better compared to the past. Before the horses began to move better because of the training they got. Today the horses are born with good gaits. That means that many people are skipping the first and most important part of the horses training. Today the horses are not worked very much from the ground, before people start riding them. And the horses are often ridden in a frame they are not ready for. The consequence of that is that even horses on high level Within all disciplines are on the forehand with the back dropped between wither and hips. The rider is sitting in a hole and that is the completely opposite of how it where supposed to be. Unfortunately, we are now used to that's how it looks and therefore we are not questioning it. And I can relate to that, because it is almost impossible to find pictures or videos with horses that has learned to carry their rider properly.
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When the horse is stretching deep, while working actively forward, then it will begin to use the abdominal muscles. In the long term it will make the horse look like it's working with a lifted back. And that is what we are striving for. That is what we need when we begin to ride the horse. And it contributes to supple and develop the horses topline.
When the horse, in hand and lunging is able to work over its back, then we transfer this to the riding. The horse has now a stronger topline and it understand how to move in a pleasant way. After that it is most often quite simple to start the ridden work. In the beginning of the ridden work the horse will need to stretch deeply after the contact and it will need to move actively forward. Just like it has learned to do from the ground. If the horse is not allowed to stretch it will not be able to step deeply under itself. The horse will now loose its rhythm and hollow its back. The horse needs to be allowed to stretch deep until it is strong enough to work in a higher position. The stronger the horse gets the higher frame it will be able to work in while staying over its back.
Amaze is stretching deep. Notice how she is able to step deeply under herself.
Art2Ride Clinic with William Faerber 10-12 May 2019
An Art2Ride Clinic focuses on making sure the foundation work is correct. Only if the foundation work is correct will it be possible to ride the horse with light aids and without coercion. This clinic will provide you with tools for progressively improving and maintaining your horse so that you get a durable, strong and happy working horse.
Want to know more about William Faerber and what you will learn at an Art2Ride clinic so CLICK HERE
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If we don't teach the horse to work over its back, then the horse will hollow its back when a rider sits on it and the rider can't do anything to avoid that. When the horse hollows its back then the vertebrae will come closer together. This is unpleasant for the horse and the horse will not be able to move freely and supple. The horse will be on its forehand, loose the rhythm and will get problems with bending. If the horse work with a hollow back, then the natural "shock absorber system" will not work. The back cannot move up and down when hollow. This causes a heavy strain on the joints, which with time can result in lameness issues or back problems.
The horse has to stretch deep
One of the obvious differences between Art2Ride and other training methods is that the horses in Art2Ride training is at times stretching almost to the ground. Many people think that horses in training should not stretch deeper than for example just above knee height. I don't know where that comes from, but I guess it has occurred because people are afraid of having the horse on its forehand. Here we have the biggest misunderstanding regarding horse training. The horses head and neck carriage have nothing to do with the horse being on its forehand or not.
A Horse that are stretching to the ground can easily look like its working "up hill" with a minimum of weight on its forehand. A horse at Grand Prix level, with the neck kept high can still be on the forehand. Which by the way is what we most often see when looking at a Grand Prix test. You should always look at the hind end and the back. If there is a dip behind the saddle, then the horse has still not fully developed its topline (which it should have if its ready for Grand Prix) or it is trained incorrectly. Some would say that we are stretching our horses too deeply. But if you lunge a young untrained horse, then it will most often, within a short time stretch almost to the ground. The same will happen with older, trained horses that has a weak topline if they are not blocked somewhere or have injuries which could make it difficult for the horse to stretch.For the horse it’s a natural way of moving. It is built to walk around for hours, searching for feed with the nose in the ground. My horses have at least not been aware that they were only supposed to stretch to a given point. They have all as young horses been stretching all way to the ground the first few times they were lunged. And that was long before I knew about Art2Ride. The reason why so many people don't experience this is that so many horses are lunged with tight side reins or other gadgets which restrict the horse in stretching. Within Art2Ride we also use side reins from time to time, but they are kept so long that the horse is still capable of stretching all the way down. They are not being used to keep the horses head in a certain position. They are used to make the horse familiar with the contact.
Regitse in 2017 as 19 year old. Even though she is stretching deep, it looks like she is walking "uphill" at that time she was still missing some muscles in her topline.
If the horse is working with a hollow back
Amaze in 2012, 3,5 year old. This is one of the first times she is being lunged, long before I knew art2ride
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Lucky Lady i 2015, as 4 years old. This is the first years she is being trained and before I knew about art2ride
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The horse needs time to develop
The horse needs time to develop both physically and mentally we owe our horses that much. The horse is a pleaser, it will always try to do what we ask of it. If we get problems it is because we are asking of something which is physically impossible for the horse to do.
People tend to think that they, with their legs, can get the horse to lift its back and with the reins can make the horse put more weight on its hind. You can't do that. Both require that the horse through training has become strong enough to do so. If the horse does not get the time needed for this development to happen the horse will be on its forehand for the rest of its life. No matter how high it is carrying its neck.
If you have a horse which have problems with bending to one or both sides, then it won't help trying to bend it with the reins. If your horse has problems with bending, then you have a horse which is not working over its back. When the horse steps under with its inside hind it will bend throughout the body without any use of the reins.
There are no short cuts
There are no short cuts when we are talking about the training of the horse. It takes time and patience. It takes about two years to build up a strong topline. Thus, not said that you can't ride the horse for two years. A good rule of thumb is that when the horse in the lunge line looks like something you would like to ride, then you begin to ride it.This applies young horses but also older horses in retraining.
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Noller is a very foreward moving horse, which often makes the horse tense. It can be quite difficult to build a strong topline on these horses.
As mentioned earlier the horse will in the beginning need to stretch deep when you ride it, to be able to keep the rhythm. One tries, along the way, to bring the horse up into a higher frame, but if the horse loses the rhythm it should be brought back into a stretch. With time the horse will be able to work in a higher frame for longer periods of time. In this way the horse will develop its topline and it will begin to put more weight on its hind end. The stronger it gets the more it will be able to close the 3 joints - Hips, knees and hocks. The back will be lifted, and the horse will look like its working "uphill". And now we have a horse strong enough for collection. This requires many years of training. Collection is not something you get with the reins. The horse simply needs strength to be able to do so.
It is easy
Once you have understood, that developing a horse takes time and that it is not possible to push the horse to do something it is not prepared for, then it takes all the frustration out of the training. You are delighted about small daily improvements and only rarely if at all, will you experience huge setbacks. The horses will be happy and cooperative, because they are never forced to do something they can't handle. As a rider you get a simple system to work from. I myself feel that I have found the missing pieces of the puzzle. I have had lots of lessons in dressage, jumping and academical dressage, but it is not until now, that I feel I have the full understanding of what it takes.
Lucky Lady is 180 cm. and has a long back. Usually these horses has difficulties with building up a strong topline. But notice her back isn't hollow
By: Linda Thilqvist
Photo: Palle Thilqvist
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Art2Ride Associated trainer
I am Art2Ride associate trainer in Denmark and try to help people with developing their own horses. I know that with time they will face the same problems regarding saddles as I had. It is therefor a relief to me to be able to recommend a saddle that I know will work. And not least a saddle fitter as I trust 200 % - Kriemhild Morgenroth.
Peter Horobin European Brand Ambassador
I have been asked if I would be a Peter Horobin ambassador and I would love to. It is a great honor to me. The quality of these saddles is amazing, and the Stride Free tree is completely unique and there is a lifetime warranty on this tree. I have long been advocating and will always be advocating these saddles, because I have experienced the positive effect they have had on our own horses.
If you want to know more about Peter Horobin saddles or if you have any questions, you are always welcome to contact me.
Everybody can work their horses this way. And all horses would benefit from this training.
I hope that this article has given some insight about what Art2Ride is all about.
In the next article I will talk about how we within Art2Ride do work in hand with our horses, what to look for and how to correct problems that might occur.
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