الإثنين 27 مايو 2024

Muscles: Should You Ride Fast or Slow?

موقع أيام نيوز

Perhaps one of the most delightful aspects of riding is the way it steadies and focuses our human minds in those moments we sit astride. For myself, anyway, I savour the monastic contemplation of the first minutes of a ride as I consider: What does this horse need? Every session originates from how I can improve the horse’s physical well-being, and this requires a good deal of paying attention.

It also requires a decision: Should I ride fast or slow? Many of us ride at a speed WE prefer, or one that the horse dictates from habit. On any given day, a horse’s individual mechanics and musculature can be improved — or not — by schooling at just the right speed. Some need to strengthen their longissimus and organize their bodies by riding briskly, while others need to confirm better joint flexion and ease tension from a tight topline by trotting slowly for periods of time.

A mare I have been working with lately has a nicely forward-going attitude; she is not lazy or dull. When moving in her default trot speed, however, she pushes her weight forward to her chest and forelegs, becomes rigid through the neck, and drags her hind feet.



In her case, I school in a slow jog rather than her preferred trot speed, because she then balances her body weight more equally over all four legs, softens her neck, and motion begins to swing through her spine. In other words, her muscle development and correctness of movement will progress much faster as a result of riding slower. The old classical master, Alois Podhajsky, touted the value of schooling this “pony trot” for horses like my mare.