2018 Series 2

Deciphering What Your Horse is Telling You

Week 4:  Visual assessment: posture, muscle development, movement

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March 26 - April 1, 2018

course content for week 4:

Visual assessment: posture, muscle development, movement

Welcome to week 4!

Summary of week 4

We’ll spend a lot of time this year talking about body language.  What is our horse telling us when they look away as we approach,  pin their ears, refuse to move, or launch off and give a little kick in our direction as they go? 

But there are subtler layers of body language that give us clues long before the ears pin or the hoof flies.

Body Language encompasses our posture, muscle development and way of moving.  Even if we don’t pick up on resonance, even if we can’t quite figure out how to palpate, it doesn’t matter.  We can learn to visually assess how our horse is standing, how their muscles are developing and how they move, to gather information when something isn’t going quite right.

All of these skills, or modes of gathering information, layer upon one another, helping us zero in with ever increasing accuracy as we trouble shoot why our horse is having trouble going to the right, for example. 

Welcome to week 4 video:

This week instead of seeing my smiling face I decided to wander around the paddock while I fed lunch yesterday and talk about the kinds of things I might look for in my herd.  Enjoy the shedding muddy gang!


Course Content for Week 4:

visual assessment


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Links to PDF Document:

Week 4: Visual Assessment

Link to audio transcript:


video demonstrations:

The following video demonstrates how I use the figure eight pattern to assess Huey's movement.  Then I use all the various tools we've been discussing, to help him shift some patterns in his body and mind.   The figure eight becomes a way to continue to assess his response to what I've done (which can help narrow down his problem areas and target them for future support) as well as give Huey an opportunity to explore moving his body in this new way.

I love to incorporate bodywork into sessions with horses.

Typically, my goal is to work at this level until my horse is moving freely, with coordination and balance, through the figure eight pattern before moving on to more advanced training.  Functional movement, good balance and coordination are things I like to have in place before adding speed or trying to get them to do precision movements.

Following is the second installment for the palpation points series.  In this one I'm working with Huey a day or two after the session above.  He was quite sore and I have always felt the bulk of his issues originate in his poll area. 

When working with the neck, I like to consider that the neck (from the perspective of the vertebra) is part of the entire length of the spine.  The function of the neck impacts a lot of other areas in the body and vice versa.  If I find issues in the neck I usually have to address other areas connected to it in order to have lasting changes in the neck.

The neck is intimately tied into postural muscles and movement - it's like it's the perfect reflection of health or dysfunction in the rest of the musculo-skeletal system.

Bonus videos:

Claire Bradshaw and Sky were generous enough to share their explorations with the group.  Here you'll find two video clips where I did voice over to talk about what I see.  This first is Claire doing the figure 8 with Sky.  See what you notice in her compared to Huey.  You may want to turn off the sound and just start by comparing her movement to Huey's movement in the first figure eight walk about.

Comparison of movement from horse to horse is a great way to develop your eye!

In this next video Claire was demonstrating some problems she was having lunging Sky.  I talk about why she's having trouble.  And discuss why it can be a challenge to evaluate our horse's movement and behavior when we are on the end of the line.  Huge thank you to Claire for being brave enough to share.  What she does in this clip is super super common.

Following is a series of three videos featuring Rivaldo. 

In the first video I go through palpation points for the first time and in the second I do a movement assessment for the first time.  I make use of the figure eight pattern discussed in the documents as well.

In the third video I actually coach Justine as she walks Rivaldo through the figure eight assessment pattern and then introduces the work with postural reflexes that we'll delve into next week.