Tag Archives: equine rehabilitation

E.P., the ex-racehorse with “kissing spine”: How attention to detail can improve rehabilitative groundwork

By Wiola Grabowska

Every Wednesday evening from April to August I run groundwork sessions at Brackenhill Stud. One my recent clients agreed for me to post a few photos from our initial session which I am very grateful for because they showed beautifully how small corrections, attention to detail and good evaluation of current training situation can help kick start the progress.

E.P.’s owner has put a tremendous effort over the last couple of years to bring the horse from what can only be described as skin & bone state to one where you can really see the horse’s potential.

I was asked to help with structuring the rehabilitative training and help add more ideas to the current work.

There were many aspects of the training that we discussed and we formulated a plan of work for the next few months but I wanted to share on here a small but very significant improvement we were able to achieve during just one session and that’s ALIGNMENT. 

Good body alignment is a key to healthy posture and as a result to successful training. Most horses and all rehabilitative schooling clients I have worked with, struggle with that aspect of training and therefore no matter how good the content of the training is, the results might be disappointing.

On photos above you can see E.P. trotting on a circle to the right with no corrections to alignment from the owner who is long reining him from the middle of the circle (he’s wearing a proprioceptive band – a bandage – that attaches to the roller).

On photos below you can see E.P.’s posture being influenced by the owner using variety of postural corrections we have worked through for about 30 minutes beforehand. These corrections are based on small changes in horse’s preferred weight shifts, balance, suppleness and body awareness with no use of any schooling gadgets):

 

The subtle visual differences on these snapshots are great to see but what made it even better was E.P.’s quality of movement before and after the owner’s corrections. I believe that movement quality is of huge importance if the rehabilitation is to progress in the right direction.

Huge thank you to E.P.’s owner for letting me share photos from the session! All images copyright: Aspire Equestrian Riding Academy

Leopold The Last and his journey with Aspire Academy

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Photo of Leo by Ceri Dickinson

I’ve been sitting down to write this post so many times in the last two days. Each morning, as I go to catch Leo from his field and he greets me with his cheeky face, I can’t help but think how unfair and cruel life can be.

 

The 11 years old, little bay New Forest X Thoroughbred gelding came to live with me last week because his owner’s illness means she is no longer, and will no longer, be able to look after him. Three years ago, Leo’s owner took a chance on an instructor who did some rider focused clinics. She could have booked a local celebrity rider/trainer but she was intrigued by what I was doing and we ended up running several weekends at her then work in North Yorkshire over a couple of years. She is the only person who managed to make me run on time with all the lessons albeit I still don’t know how!

When she asked me for help with rehoming Leo I knew it was my turn to take a chance on someone…

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Leo having a roll and with me in the arena during his first week at Brackenhill Stud

I hope you will follow this little horse’s journey with me. He’s an interesting fellow with some physical issues to work through and my plan at the moment is for him to remain with me and become the Academy horse in near future.

I eventually would like to find him a rider interested in equine biomechanics and movement therapy as well as dressage so they can continue training with me and learn from Leo. When he is ready to be available for the coaching loan with the Academy, I will make this known 🙂

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DYI version of the Equicore concept that I am using  – a theraband! #proprioception #muscleeducation #LeoAspireJourney

Today Leo had his physiotherapy re-assessment with Dr Tracy Crook of Chiltern VetPhysio and he is making a very good progress.

Recommendations
1. Continue with in-hand and ridden flexibility exercises
2. Continue to hack as before and use the theraband when lunging
3. “Work” for short periods of time, his muscles are still developing and too much work too soon will make him sore.
4. Review in 6 weeks.

Movement rehabilitation and training that enhances athletic ability is something I feel passionate about because it truly gives a meaning to schooling horses into riding horses…I will be posting updates on Leo via Instagram (@aspireequestrian) with a hashtag #LeoAspireJourney and weekly on here so if you are into movement education and schooling for dressage as means of achieving more harmony, suppleness and longevity – stay tuned!