The Art And Science of Teaching the Gaited Horse

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Article published in the FOSH publication: The Sound Advocate in 2013.

In my opinion every rider should have a grasp of basic equine biomechanics before saddling our horses or attempting to work them in hand. The horse moves prerequisitely as a whole and for every one of our actions there is a reaction/response on the part of the horse that is determined by the bones, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and musculature of the horse. Understanding both

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Champagne Bubble

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“Like a Champagne Bubble”. Students will often hear Mark say this about how to sit on their horses. What does this mean?

In a nutshell; “the rider will ideally put more weight in the stirrup and on their thighs instead of their seat bones so as to distribute their weight down the horse’s ribs instead of it being concentrated on their backs” Mark says. He adds that to allow energy to flow freely throughout the

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Classical and Natural Training

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Feature article published in the August 2010 issue of the Equine Journal; by Lisa Kemp.

Natural horsemanship and classical dressage methods might seem worlds apart, but the best practitioners of each possess qualities that include respectful care of and consideration for the horse, communication grounded in the language of Equus, and thoughtful techniques based on step-by-step principles and common sense. A training foundation like this can benefit any equine, but it’s particularly helpful for oft-sensitive

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Work in Hand

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By Mark Russell

Article appearing in PRE Magazine Winter 2011

All horses, whether green or mature, benefit from time spent in hand. It is easier for the horse to learn relaxation, stretching, and flexion without the weight of the rider and in-hand work provides the foundation for learning under saddle. It is worth noting that how a horse responds in-hand is normally a good indication of what his understanding is of

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The Bridle

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By Mark Russell

Article appearing in PRE Magazine Fall 2011

Building from the premise that the release builds trust; educating the horse to the bridle springs from our early work with the horse in the halter. If we have been successful in teaching our horse to respond to the slightest pressure in any direction from the halter we can more easily begin to teach him about the bridle.

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The Pursuit of Artful Riding

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By Mark Russell

Article Appearing in PRE Magazine Spring 2011

Diego is attentive to Mark's requests without tension

Artistry and lightness in riding is often an elusive goal for riders although paving the path to its development is really very simple. The integration of a few basic principles and adherence to them throughout the training process will create a scenario in which responsiveness and lightness will flourish.

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Relaxation, Flexion, Strength

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By Mark Russell

Article appearing in PRE Magazine Summer 2011

Bandit in a relaxed trot

One of the reasons for teaching the horse to be light to the aids is to support the healthy flow of energy through the horse’s whole body. In the education of the horse, relaxation, flexion, and strength are taught concurrently. The development of relaxation and trust is the key that first opens the door.

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Rein-Back in Hand

Correct rein back under saddle; notice the drape in the rein and the horse's coil. Here the horse is beginning to yield his chest.

Mark Russell

Rein-back has tremendous gymnastic benefits and is invaluable in every phase of training. In the early stage of training, it serves to teach the horse how to round his back and release through his pelvis. Correct delivery is complicated, however, and rein-back is all too often performed incorrectly.

Before being able to perform a correct rein-back, the horse needs to understand how to halt in balance. In order to achieve this

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