I find it hard to believe that I’m wishing you a Happy New Year. It seems like only a few short months ago I wrote about New Year’s resolutions. But time marches on and, whether we’re ready for it or not, we find ourselves at the beginning of another calendar year. In last January’s issue, we focused on cross-training. We received a positive response, so this issue offers more on what seems to be an important piece of any training puzzle, whether it pertains to riding or any other physical sport.
Our cover model, Grand Prix rider Nicholas Fyffe, brings us a great article on the benefits of cross-training and how using various exercises, both in and out of the saddle, works to turn a horse and rider into a fit and able team. A former professional gymnast, Fyffe has a unique perspective on how the two sports are similar. He says, “As in gymnastics, the goal in dressage training is to master a movement by breaking down the different aspects. Once we are able to master each element of a specific movement, we can perform more advanced work. The more difficult movements can become possible because the foundation has been well established.”
Fyffe stresses that with development comes the possibility of muscle soreness, saying, “Take this into consideration when your horse feels a little less motivated after having a groundbreaking ride a day or so before. Be sympathetic, but remember, the best thing for sore muscles is to keep them mobile and moving.” Read “Find Your Fit” on p. 28.
While Fyffe explains how important cross-training can be to a horse in work, it can be just as important for a horse who is coming back into fitness. In “Rehabilitation Basics” on p. 36, we hear from several experts, including Dr. Hilary Clayton, on how to help a horse return to work and prevent further injuries. Part of this equation includes cavalletti and hill work, both of which help rehabilitate an injured horse and build or maintain muscle and fitness on a sound horse. The article also looks at the benefits of utilizing aqua treadmills and the importance of open communication between the horse’s vet, rider and owner.
Throughout this issue there is a common theme of riding your horse in a way that promotes soundness. This message is echoed again in our story about joint health (p. 56), where we hear from three vets who specialize in working with performance horses. Each expert states that when it comes to soundness management and prevention of injury, there is no replacement for good horsemanship.
In addition to our cross-training features, we also share a story about bringing up a young dressage horse in “The Kindergarten Years” on p. 42. We hope you enjoy this month’s issue and take the time to share your thoughts with us.
Until next time…