Treating the Symptom Vs Treating the Disease

Getting to the Real Issue - Mind / Body / Spirit

So whats going on with the horse?  Most of us can probably nominate something that is a challenge that we are facing right now.  Maybe it is a problem with the horse rushing in transitions, maybe it is a problem with the horse 'dropping in' or 'dropping out' on the circle, maybe the horse has aggressive during feed times, maybe he is spooky.

Whats going on?

The first thing that we need to realise is that it could be ANY number of things - physical pain, emotional instability, physical instability, unbalanced rider, ill-fitted tack, external stimulus, internal stimulus - wow if I keep writing ill probably be here all day!

The second thing we need to realise is the difference between treating the 'symptom' versus treating the 'disease'.

The third thing we need to take a look at is 'preventative medicine'.

A great example of this is a horse that is 'dropping in' or 'dropping out' of the circle.  Often referred to as 'dropping the shoulder' which is incorrect in itself.  What this generally results in is the rider trying to address the shoulder, or correct the circle on the circle.  This is addressing the symptom - the symptom is the 'dropping in' on the circle, and we try to correct it by addressing the 'dropping in'. 

Instead of treating the symptom, in order to correct this in a more effective way, we need to assess why?  Why? is the horse 'dropping the shoulder'.  Let's take a look at how we could backtrack an assessment;

Symptom: Horse 'drops in on circle'
Coach watches horse on the circle and determines shoulder 'dropping' is due to footfall placement.
Assessing horses footfalls, it is determined that the horse is 'plaiting' as he walks.
On visual assessment, it is noted that the horse is narrowed through the chest / dropped in the thoracic sling.

Ok, so finally we get to the reason that the horse is 'dropping the shoulder' - a lack of strength / correct carriage in the thoracic sling.  

We then need to investigate why the horse is weak in this area, which could be for many reasons including;

The horse has been turned out in the paddock and is not fit.
The horse is young and unfit
The horse has been ridden incorrectly causing a collapse in the thoracic sling
The horse has an injury*
The horse has an imbalance caused by incorrect hoof care.

If you believe that the horse is simply unfit, or needs training and exercise in this area, there are many exercises and training approaches that you could take at this point to strengthen the horses self-carriage - treating the disease.  I personally would recommend to have at least a vet or body professional make an assessment to determine if the horse is in pain.  

Once you have made your decision and embarked on 'treating the disease' training, as the horse gets stronger it must be a consideration to think about 'preventative medicine'.  This could be as simple as continuing exercises to ensure the horse remains strong.  

It is important to note here that this is only one case scenario.  You could assess a horse with the same issue and determine that he is drawing out to the gate, or the barn where his buddies are - which would be a mental issue, not a physical one.

Sometimes it can be a combination of physical and mental cause.

Next time you are faced with a challenge with your horse - take a step back, assess what the 'symptom' is (generally what is bothering you) and then try to do a backtrack assessment of what the actual 'disease' could be.  You could solve the issue forever.

*It must be noted that an injury affecting the carriage of the horse is not necessarily in the region of the front of the horse - a hind end weakness or injury can have an effect on the overall carriage of the horse.  'Everything is connected'. 

Yours for the horse,

Tk xo 

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GROUND EXERCISES ONLINE!  So!  I have converted all the Ground Exercises from our DVD to an online workshop.  It has been submitted to the online platform and is waiting for approval.  Use this link to gain access for just $24.99!  

It is the footage from about 3 years ago when we filmed the DVD but has so much great information in it.  And this is a perfect way for those of you who already have the DVD to be able to access each ground exercise on your mobile or computer.
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