"Holding the head" of lameness.

Imagine you are a marathon runner. You need every piece of yourself during your run. You need to be as relaxed as humanly possible to breathe and enable yourself to properly use targeted muscle contraction to accomplish the task in front of you.

 Athletes enjoying their natural collection.

Athletes enjoying their natural collection.

Now imagine if you had a rope attached to a halter attached to your head attached to a human. You don't have a chance in heck of remaining sound if you are handled the way we handle most equines.

In fact, the irony of many pictures taken of horses during lameness evaluations is that the photo shows the very handling that contributes to the horse's lameness. People seem to have no idea what harm they are doing by removing the slack in the rope or rein attached to a part of the body, especially the head, while the horse is attempting an athletic endeavor, even one as simple as a walk.

 If someone were to pull your head down or forward, you would have to exert force up or back to balance the pull. Once that happens, you are guaranteed to negatively affect the soundness potential of your equine.

If someone were to pull your head down or forward, you would have to exert force up or back to balance the pull. Once that happens, you are guaranteed to negatively affect the soundness potential of your equine.

Why don't we pull on various parts of our human athletes with ropes or reins while they try to perform? Ridiculousness aside, it's because there is no athletic advantage, only harm, that could result.

The absolute requirement for natural collection in athletic endeavors with humans is so sacrosant a principal, it is so common sense, that it is not even a part of our collective consciousness. But we willfully go about yanking, pushing, pulling and controlling horses during movement and then tsk tsk tsking when they come up lame. We then go on to blame all sorts of body parts of the horse's for the source of the lameness, instead of wonder what role we are playing in the event, either in handling, habitat, unnatural use, unnatural diet etc.  

We need to consider the quality we can bring to the physical interaction between us to make sure two things are accomplished 1) effective species-species communication and 2) unfettered, naturally collected movement (for both of us). To get used to the look of horses who are naturally collected, or improving their bodies on the collection "spectrum," please see my presentation on natural collection and the wild horse gallery.

Want to learn how to develop the natural collection of your animal through excellence in handling? Look to www.lesliedesmond.com and www.theartofriding.com for starters. And please tell me who you might be working with that has allowed your horse to preserve or regain his natural collection through your work. There are many individuals out there that do this with their own horse or with client horses, but most don't realize that their ability to preserve natural collection is, in fact, what makes them good with their horse. And even fewer seem to know how to teach this goal. Let's change that and put all training programs under the umbrella of the first goal of preservation of natural collection. 

Sacrosanct - Merriam-Webster Online

too important and respected to be changed, criticized, etc