Equestrian art and its biomechanical influence written by rui pedro arruda translated by kima Holland I can't talk about this subject without talking about the relationship between horses, veterinarians, horsemen, working methods, and its evolution in the last 20 years. being a part of it all 20 years ago ,things were quite different however it was the beginning of the 'big boom' in evolution and orientation of equestrian styles in Europe. We started to talk about NH (Natural Horsemanship) and Western was just a movement that started to rise at the same time where normal disciplines such as Classical Dressage, Polo and Horseball ruled. There were less riders but the majority were much more complete. The last 20 years of development was not only in breed selection but has also increased the number of riders which justifies the significant increase of horse breeders. Such a range of choice was beneficial for everyone but has also brought along the problem of people that didnt know how to handle horses. The people known as 'horsewhisperers' were talking about a horse in balance and became promotors of 'equestrian secrets' but evidently only some had this style. Nowadays there seems to be a conflict of methods and names are becoming tiring going from Classic to Academic and through to Natural Horsemanship. So in my opinion Academic is merely a development with certain results and NH is just a way of working that combines the techniques used by the Indians,and techniques which were once abadoned by the classics, with techniques of Classic and some of these techniques are being used in the circus all having the positive aspect of working in hand and thourough groundwork with their horses. I like Natural Horsemanship but it doesnt mean I like everything about it. Although I think part of the philosophy can be in any training program , the horse suffers when people want to reinvent thousands of years of experimenting and the study of Classicism. For example 'the stick' in Natural Horsemanship is conflicting with any type of other help given with the stick in a traditional method which leads to misinterpretation and confusion within the horse and rider if either are unaware or dont have any background in other methods or teachings. Ofcourse Natural Horsemanship wins when it comes to playing games with the horse that may seem absurd sometimes however they open a communication line and are in my opinion good fitness for the brain of the horse which enhances their intelligence and ability in learning This is very positive and applicable when teaching the horse but when I hear 'Natural Horsemanship People', with whom I share my opinions, say that only they have their horse 'in balance' I am not convinced. I think no horse runs 100% in balance, because of the pain or muscular problems, or even bone problems, even if the pain isnt deficienct the mind isnt always consistent, and in my opinion, most suited to the biomechanics of the
20 years are long enough to be able to analyse some of the methods and misuse as the good or bad derrives from those basics. My concept would be management in general as being able to guide the horse using knowledge of morphology and movement along with the first basics of biomechanics. Also of great importance is riding posture, correct use of hands and legs, and here come the second approach on biomechanics as imbalance and incorrect swinging of the legs interferes with the balance of the horse at musculair level that can cause atrophy which leads to blockage that can be linked to uneven tempos, or in other extreme cases a displacement of the bone. If not treated in time, depending on the age of the horse, it could cause dislocations, calcifications and wear and in this case it would be harder as it is not only the correction of the muscle that needs to be done. Using your hands and legs correct is very important for all the work you would like to do. Therefor having a collected horse is the solution to keep the dorsal functioning properly, and protection of the loins , shoulders and forelimbs applied in a correct manner along with the hindlegs. When I said that the hands and legs are the best friends of a horse, I said it with the purpose of discussing pressure in the mouth and Bridleless and Neckreining. I agree with almost all studies about the causes of pressure and tidal inlets in the horse's mouth. Reality is however, that if the leg doesnt help the performance of the hand resulting in a topline not being worked efficiently therefor the horse is unable to give release forward and step lightly so this should be the homework of any rider. A good thing about Neckreining and Bridleless is that it can have a relaxing effect on horses in training.To those having problems, some of the best options is to mount them Bridleless for a while and afterwards put the bit back into the mouth.Results are a more calm horse and more accepting of the rider and hand. Neckreining also has this and among all other things that can be done, surely a horse obeying a command on a neckrein must have a great level of self-confidence. Contraindications to or misuse of Bridless Neckreining causes exactly the same type of musculair injuries that can be seen in other horses. Usually in ridingschools you can see some horses with their backs completely stuck and their mouths are stiff, a lack of motivation and a lack of impulse or some horses who dont like to make circles. All of these are biomechanical problems caused by the incorrect use of the hands and legs which makes the horse push their behind further away from the frontleg leaving their back and shoulder unprotected. Horses are not naturally designed to withstand most of the weight itself nor the pressure caused by the weight of the rider. There is a lot to say about biomechanics but I think it is appropriate to discuss the last 20 years and the different approaches to the horse and its influence putting the emphasis on the importance of the horse's back to a healthy life. Riding should be used as a therapy for the horse, its rider taking into consideration its biomechanics, in this way the horse can go into a mental and physical state of balance having great effect on the horse's metabolism. Finally at the beginning I sugested Vets because in my opinion, a greater understanding between vets and trainers should result into a society where everything is aimed at the health and succes in order to benefit the horse.