Our incredible ten days in Germany – Part 2

Klaus Schoneich

Klaus Schoneich from the Centre for anatomically correct horsemanship, working a young horse.

After working the horse on the longe following the Schoneichs’ specific instructions, the next step is to work the horse with the rider up. Even advanced riders very often must seek a better balance and develop a truly independent seat. The Schoneichs are masters at creating individual exercises for the rider to achieve that goal. These exercises are being done by the rider while being longed.

For my part, as a veterinarian specializing in integrative as well as conventional medicine, I have recognized that all horses, regardless of discipline, develop the same sets of muscle pattern pain and pathology. This observation is in my opinion, without question, related to the laterality of the horse. In horses with right forelimb dominance(75 to 80% of the population) the muscle pattern is the same, as in the 20 to 25 percent of the left forelimb dominant ones who then present a mirror image of the right forelimb dominant horses. The same can be said for the chiropractic and fascial patterns. It does not stop there, it relates also to the pathology that we see in the joints (especially the stifles and hocks as well as in spinal facet joints.) All these pathological effects are related to the combination of “shear” and “centrifugal” forces that are generated when the horse with uncorrected laterality problems work in circles, with their weight on the forehand. I will be expanding greatly on this subject in chapters of a book that I am currently writing.

Christine has been receiving instruction and learning the longeing techniques from Gabrielle and Klaus. She has also had the opportunity to receive “rider-up” lessons in better developing an independent seat. If one were to see photos you would say that the rider’s position is not at all correct. These exercises and hand positions are the necessary detours (in the “Schoneich Method”) to allow the horse to come into self-carriage and the rider to be able to maintain the required “independent seat.”

When they take a horse in for training, they do a full video assessment of its current way of moving on a circle, a shoeing and foot balance evaluation as well as a saddle assessment. I am, personally, concluding that it is also important to do a full physical examination including acupuncture, chiropractic, limb palpation and flexion tests. It is my feeling that if the horses’ physical problems can be sorted out previous to the hard work of rebalancing, that the entire process may go more smoothly. Even though the longe work may only be twenty minutes, the horse has to use his muscles in a very different way that can lead to more muscle soreness. I recognize my need to experience a large number of horses that are started relatively “pain and pathology free” to be able to speak with more authority on this aspect.

Many of the horses that are brought to the Schoneichs come because the owner’s has been advised that the horse is not “good enough” to do the job or its career is finished because of pathology. The high rate of success that they have with this type of horses speaks volumes. Though, the system can stand on its own, we would maintain that success may come even more quickly when accompanied by a pain free state.

There is no question that many horses with “uncorrected laterality” are competing very successfully and at very high levels. We are very suspicious, however, that there is a lot of horse “wastage” when laterality is not addressed. The question is, how much longer could the horses perform if they were better laterally and longitudinally balanced? This seems like a very logical hypothesis. Our goal is to have horses live a longer, happier life performing well in a pain free manner.

We are in a very good position, as we have a coming three year old that we will start when we get home. I will be able to more closely monitor her progress from start to finish. We cannot wait to get home to commence!

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