The Horse

DEC 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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Page 48 of 51 | The Horse December 2018 49 instead of circles, going straight and turn- ing 90 degrees at the corners. "Although research hasn't confirmed this, I believe it could be very helpful in teaching horses how to turn evenly and get even contact on the reins, and also to move their fore- limbs left or right so they're on the same track as the hind limbs." Channon also recommends basic train- ing for symmetry, working on strength- ening muscles and stretching tendons and ligaments evenly on both sides. Riding with the inside leg to the outside rein (and vice versa) can help overcome crookedness. "This is all about straightening a horse," he says. "You teach him to bend around the inside leg and balance himself." Once a horse reaches a higher level, he can learn to work with the rein tension on the same side as the leg pressure, he says. But young and recovering horses can benefit from this opposite rein/leg pressure exercise. When You've Reached Your Limit Some horses have limited capacities— whether naturally or because of past injuries—to reach ultimate straightness. If that's the case, it doesn't mean the horse will lead an unhappy life or be fit only for pasture. Many go on to lead suc- cessful athletic careers at levels appropri- ate for their straightness, say our sources. "I'm not sure I know any horse that's completely straight," Channon says. "So in any case, it's all a matter of scale. If a horse is nearly 100% straight, he might be able to do Grand Prix dressage or jumping. A little off, he might only reach a slightly lower level. Horses with more pronounced levels of crookedness might still be fantastic trail horses and never experience any discomfort from that kind of work." Even so, a physically healthy horse can always improve toward more straight- ness with proper exercises as guided by a professional, he adds. Take-Home Message Horses are rarely—if ever—born naturally straight. Congenital defects and acquired injuries can create additional challenges. So can poor or asymmetrical riding and ill-fitting tack. But with a good veterinary work-up and any necessary therapy, in addition to straightness- promoting exercises, these sources says we can help our horses achieve fluid movement in a perfectly straight line. This might make them not only more comfort- able mounts and better performers but also happier and healthier athletes. h AAEP Booth 2236 We see quite a number of crooked horses with trauma in their history." DR. VALERIE MOORMAN CREDIT

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