Well, well, well. Finally. It doesn’t surprise me that this article (the January 2008 editorial by John Strassburger), well overdue, came from Horse Journal. It’s straight on. I have been involved in the horse industry for eight years now, and this is the first article I have seen in any of the magazines that is aware of this problem. Every trainer in the United States needs to read this article and stop to think. I have had too many trainers tell me they are going to take my horse to their facility, board it, feed it, clean its stall (maybe) and train ”my” horse.
I don’t want my horse trained. I have two acres, one four-stall barn, a separate 10,000 square-foot totally enclosed riding arena with additional stalls. My facility is top-notch and daily care is excellent. I have invested a few hundred thousand dollars on my horses.
But, I want to learn how to work with my horse better. He’s MY horse. If trainers want to keep customers during the inevitable recession, or even gain some, they need to consider your article. They need to start giving the customers what they want. And be flexible and creative. Trainers that follow this lead will still have clients. Others will not.
There’s only one other thing I would like to see. It’s time this industry recognizes that boys and men ride horses, too. What a shame that trainers, magazines, breed organizations, etc. haven’t figured out that they’re catering to only 50% of the potential consumer base. Wake up, people! Men and boys love horses, too. Not only that, but I can only estimate how many women have dragged their spouse/boyfriend to the barn to ride. Willing or not. There is opportunity in this industry. Again, thanks for an excellent article.
Concern that Photo Showed Hyperflexion
I’ve been subscribing to Horse Journal for over 10 years, since it was first published, and found it invaluable in helping me assess products for my horses. But, I was appalled when I flipped to page 18 of February 2008 issue and saw the photo with the underlying caption, ”The warm-up arena is a place to get you and your horse’s muscles ready to enter the class.”
I believe the rider in the foreground is riding her horse in hyperflexion, a riding technique known to cause damage to the horse’s spine and muscles. I find it ironic that this photo is in the same issue with information on therapeutic saddle pads and proper saddle fit.
Unfortunately, harmful riding practices have become so common that many people do not question them anymore. I hope that you will take the above into consideration for future publication.
Associate Editor’s Note: We certainly are aware of the practice of hyperflexion and its potential dangers, not just for the harm it can cause to a horse physically but also mentally.
We do not feel this picture, taken in the warm-up area at a jumper show, is an example of hyperflexion. It’s much more likely that the horse is briefly too much on its forehand and possibly behind the rider’s leg or momentarily avoiding contact with the rider’s hand, while pictured in a phase of the canter stride that overemphasizes the problem.
Hyperflexion is undesirable for a host of reasons, and we surely feel no rider should use it at any time, much less as a warm-up technique before attempting a course of jumps.