Gymnastics are part of Nature
A horse that is fleeing from danger transfers his weight towards his forehand, and when cornered or trapped a horse will shift all his weight onto his hindquarters, in order to rear up to defend himself.
Watching horses playing in the field offers a great opportunity to watch them playing, and see how the shift of balance is involved in both attack and defense. Effortlessly and with enjoyment they train their reflexes, muscles, skill and sense of balance. In their daily games they are keeping themselves supple in order to give themselves an advantage for survival over their enemies.
The natural tendency to exercise and maintain suppleness is built into the horse’s DNA by nature, and as trainers, the best possible path is to be able to develop and support this characteristic.
Mental Emotional and Physical Balance effects
From a horses point of view there is an even more important reason for developing our horse’s gymnastic ability: while improving suppleness, muscular development and weight bearing capacity, a psychological change will also take place in the horse. He will become stronger, more self confident, and more aware of how to use his new skills. With every exercise a horse will become more agile; confidence in his own body will grow. His balance will improve and his weight bearing ability will be increased. The more his hindquarters are trained, the more his balance will be transferred back and down towards his haunches.
The State of Mind and Emotion that brings about
An interaction takes place between the state of body and state of mind: the flight instinct will recede, as the balance shifts to the horse’s hindquarters, and the horse’s self confidence will grow. For every physical position there is a matching emotion. A horse in collection has a different psychological condition to the horse grazing in the field. The horse’s emotions are expressed through his physical being.
Empowerment Confidence Joy!
The true expression of this for any horse is when the enjoyment of his own movement, self confidence and pride are expressed through High School movements. Gymnastic exercises “empower” the horse, by developing his ability, animating his movements with emotion, and developing his will to build up his strength.
To borrow a quote from Xenophon: “Happy, magnificent and proud, emotions that cannot be forced. To achieve this, a foundation must be built, from which everything else stems!"