SEE, FEEL AND HEAR THE HORSE - The benefits of lunging and working in hand with problematic horses'

Harry and_shoulder_in_2Harry Chaim Faibish - Classical horse Trainer explains how Lunging and Working in hand can help in the rehabilitation of damaged and problematic horses' This kind of knowledge takes many years of training and the lunging hundreds of horses of different breeds, shapes, and sizes, temperaments, and problems, being able to see, hear, and feel their correct strides, shape and movement is the key to Harry's success.  Harry has found that having a thorough knowledge of Classical Dressage, both theory and practical has helped him as a trainer to see, feel and hear the horse. Understanding and being aware of the horses' body and mind has enabled him to deal with each horse as an individual, applying a different approach when he is confronted with something difficult.

Harry and_shoulder_in 
Helping and healing horses with different problems such as weaknesses in the body, resistance, poor balance and lack of confidence can be a delicate and complex subject. The trainer must have a love and passion for the horse and the ability to be patient and calm when handling a horse with major problems. 
The education of a young horse on the lunge will help develop and straighten his body and improve concentration and confidence. These improvements will produce a strong, supple and straight horse allowing him to carry a rider's weight comfortably and without the risk of injury to the spine or joints.
Once the horse begins to go correctly on the lunge and is achieving rhythmic strides on both reins he will in turn increase and improve the suppleness and use of the hind legs, we can only then teach him to work in hand from the ground properly achieve more flexibility in all directions. 
The trainer must be prepared to wait as long as it takes to resolve any problem as it is only time that will allow the horse to become more responsive and develop the correct muscles to support and help him move correctly. 
Lunging Equipment: 
1. Soft leather lunging cavesson with 3 rings, (not too heavy) The equipment must be clean at all times so it will not crack or break. 
2. Soft leather side reins, long enough to fit horses up to 17.3hh - no rubber rings or elastics as these teach the horse to pull on them and not keep his head still.
3. Soft leather lunging roller, 4 or 5 rings at equal distance on each side for lunging and long rein.
Harry and_leg_yeilding 
It is very important to observe the horses' all round confirmation. Study the good points, bad points and areas where there may be a problem such as a long back, weak hocks, short neck and bad feet.

The muscle definition is also an indicator as to the strong and weak areas so feel over thoroughly to determine hard and soft masses. The teeth are also very important to check as any problems in the mouth will compromise acceptance of the bit, and general comfort for the horse. 
Harry explains
Harry trot_in_full_balanceMy Teacher Egon Von Neindorff use to say the horse must have a nice head, not too big as this might cause a problem keeping the head in the correct position. The neck should be in proportion to the body, not too short and not too long and weak. A straight angle of the shoulder will produce a short stride with a strong possibility of over reaching from the hind feet; ideally the shoulder should be sloping to allow the horse a free and longer walk stride. The hind quarters are the power, lifting the horses' front end and propelling the horse forward and therefore should be big and strong and in proportion to the rest of the body.

 Harry the_perfect_trot
Once I have done my observations I take the horse for a walk on a lunge rein allowing me to assess his confidence and behaviour with people and possibly any past historical problems.
 I always recommend a lunge rein for leading as this allows me to keep control, gain his trust, develop confidence and allow me to become a friend and leader in helping him overcome his fears.
By working with the horse gently you develop the brain which in turn helps relax the horse, giving him respect for you and ultimately become more willing to learn. 

Case Study - Jasmine
Harry and_Jasmin
Jasmine was an eight year old 15.2hh Arabian cross chestnut mare with nice conformation who had been ridden by young children to have fun, she was always ridden at speed and had very little schooling or training. The children had been allowed to get on her back and gallop and canter with little understanding of the damage they were doing. When the boys got older and wanted more from her they realized that she would not do anything at a slow pace and became stressed when asked, everything she did was too fast and without rhythm… She would simply just run away as this is all she knew.
Harry was asked if he could help in teaching her to relax and move correctly and shares Jasmines story. 
It was obvious that Jasmine had many complicated issues, so my first request to her owners was that no one other than me should touch or get on her whilst she was going through her schooling. I needed to ensure that we stopped any confusion of mixed messages being given and Jasmine was given the opportunity to get used to having just one person setting her routine.
Unfortunately Jasmine had only ever been ridden at pace and that is all she knew, she had to be taught how to walk and trot in a relaxed manner.
Jasmine goes on the lunge ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ 
I always lunged Jasmine before riding her, just in walk and trot in order to loosen her body, build muscle in the right places and to teach her to work in a way that was as balanced and round as possible. The lunge was to play an important part in her rehabilitation as it allowed me to pay attention to the repetition she needed, giving her the time she needed to stretch and become relaxed and rounded in her body and neck.
More importantly lunging helped me work with Jasmine's biggest problem which was her brain, she could only remember how the boys had galloped her by constantly pulling at her mouth. Mentally she had been affected and wouldn't relax and give me her mouth; she was always tense and very rigid.
It was a slow process, but one I knew she would eventually start responding to, Jasmine needed time. I had to keep things very simple and only ever walked her, doing big circles and straight lines; I wanted her to start feeling happy and comfortable and begin to enjoy the ride.
When I first gave her the reins she would immediately start to walk fast, or even trot, again and again I would just return to sitting and using my aids and voice to gently slow her down to a relaxed walk and remind her that when there was no contact with her mouth that she didn't have  to run. 
After many sessions, Jasmine was able to walk and trot on long reins with light contact, just enough that we could feel each other and I was able to help her to balance if necessary. She eventually learned to relax and respond to my fingers and stopped trying to run. She also started to loosen up in her body and jaw and would even play with the bit. She was settling and becoming more and more responsive - it was time for me to ride her in a smaller area and do other walking exercises in 15 and 10 m circles including figures of eight and serpentines. As soon as she relaxed mentally her whole body would change and riding her became a pleasure.
After every schooling session I would take Jasmine for a relaxed hack where I was able to ask for upwards and downwards transitions between walk and trot to loosen and build her hindquarters, we would also do big circles on both reins, and work on a straight line in a medium frame, increasing to a larger frame including leg-yielding in both directions in walk.
Once completed I would simply let her trot as she wished, allowing her to free up her muscles, stretch her frame and further build up her suppleness and balance. The routine was working and Jasmine would always give me a relaxed walk back to the yard where she knew she would get washed down followed by a roll in the sand.
 Jasmine was like a different horse and once I had completed with her remedial schooling, I was then in the position to give the owners son lessons on how to continue with Jasmine's schooling and more importantly how to ride her correctly.  

Harry Chaim Faibish - Classical Horse Trainer provides Lunging and Work in Hand Courses. 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Telephone: 07854 310346