EQUITOPIA CLINICS – WHAT’S SO SPECIAL FOR YOU AND YOUR HORSE?
As our clinics become more worldwide, we often receive questions about their format. Do our clinics consist of intense riding training and perfecting advanced dressage movements? Not exactly. At Equitopia we believe only a pain free horse who is comfortable in his body, relaxed in his mind and equipped with properly fitting tack can carry a rider. If we want the horse to perform, it is our responsibility to make sure he is healthy before we put a rider on. This is why we believe we are taking the concept of a clinic to a whole new level.
TAILORED PLAN FOR EACH HORSE
The Equitopia clinic isn’t just a session with a trainer, it’s a team of experts working together to enable your horse to reach his full potential. What does this mean in practice? The horse is first assessed from several different perspectives; we look at his muscle development, potential restrictions and tightness, we assess how balanced his hooves are, how well his saddle fits and we determine his natural asymmetries and movement patterns – anything that might be getting in the way of him performing at his best. Our team of experts then works together to create a plan, tailored to each horse. What the rest of the clinic is going to look like, depends entirely on the needs of the individual horse. Our goal is to enable the horse to reach his full potential while enjoying the work he is doing.
PREPARING FOR WORK
For most horses the initial assessment is followed by a bodywork session before the start of the training. This will release the restrictions in their bodies and enable them to make the most out of the training sessions that follow. Some horses will need their hooves or their saddle adjusted prior to training. The horse will only proceed to training sessions if he has no issues that could potentially get worse with work. We want the horse to be comfortable in the training sessions, as only a comfortable horse can relax enough to start using his body correctly and learn how to move in a healthy way. If there is tightness in his back, or an ill-fitting saddle on him, he cannot relax and work correctly. So, this needs to be addressed first before we can move on.
WORKING ON BALANCE
The first training session will usually consist of groundwork and lunging, to teach the horse how to move in vertical balance, with the weight equally distributed over all four feet. Only a horse that knows how to carry a rider in a balanced way will remain healthy in the long run. Only if the horse does not have any ongoing issues that need to be resolved first and if the saddle is fitting properly, the following training session can be a ridden one. In the ridden training session the rider learns how to achieve vertical balance from the saddle and the horse learns how to maintain vertical balance with the added weight of the rider. The goal is to create healthy movement patterns that will serve as a solid foundation for future work.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
After the clinic, each participant is provided with homework and future recommendations so you will have a solid plan when you return home with your horse and start practicing on your own.
It is important to note that issues with the musculoskeletal system of the horse can often be multifaceted. Initial bodywork and training might reveal underlying issues that might become more obvious once the first layer of fascial restrictions is removed. If we truly want the best for our horse, these issues must be addressed before we proceed with training. This is why we will always refer the horse for further diagnostics, if we believe there might be an underlying issue present that can’t be resolved with bodywork or proper training.
The aim of an Equitopia clinic is to take a holistic approach to training your horse and to consider all the things that might be holding him back. The work you do is only as strong as the foundations you lay down, so it is imperative for the horse to be truly balanced before we ask him to perform advanced movements. In the long run this not only leads to better performance, but to a happier, healthier horse and a closer bond between him and his rider.
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