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wehorse is a European Online Riding Academy that you pay a fee to access many different trainers who have videos available for viewing. The videos cover various training techniques demonstrated by over twenty trainers.
Once on the website, I clicked on the video page and scrolled down to see what sort of things are offered. I was specifically looking for a training video dealing with something I found interesting. There are so many to choose from!
I found the video I wanted to watch, It’s called Nervous Horses: Case Analysis and Exercises in Hand.
This video is 15.39 minutes long and starts right off with us meeting “Paul,” a ten-year-old Warmblood gelding who was said to be tense, spooky and flighty, and his rider was unable to relax either. His rider, Irene, demonstrates how she rides and Peggy speaks to the overall appearance of Paul and how he moves—on the forehand, stiffly, high head carriage. Peggy doesn’t address the rider and her seat, hands and legs. Nor does she comment on the role the rider plays in how horses travel under saddle, however, this is all covered in part 1 & 2 of the series.
The video shows that while ridden, Paul is not confident as he begins working, and Peggy comments on how he won’t or can’t halt correctly. It’s hard to only watch either rider or horse without looking at the whole, but this video focuses on the horse. The commentary demonstrates and defines what “combing the reins” is; a method of sliding the hands alternatively along the reins to encourage the horse to lengthen his neck and reach forward and down with his head. The trainer says that this will relax the horse and that is the point of the video, so that makes sense.
This rider knew that combing the reins was something she should do and she did so with no prompting. The trainer then discussed how the rider’s outside leg would either show a heel that’s up or a foot that is forward. Since we viewers see that both are happening, it was good that she talked about the rider’s knee needing to be a bit more bent. What she didn’t say was that perhaps the stirrups are too long for this rider, although we all know this is a personal preference as well as an industry standard. As a trainer, I’d have tried to encourage a better seat-leg position in order to help Paul carry himself better, but again, it’s subjective and this video really is about the horse and how he is tense. I may have said he was braced as his head is never in an exaggerated high position, and he hauls himself about on the forehand with an engaged back to compensate for his rider.
Next scene, Peggy is with the now untacked Paul in a halter that has a fuzzy covered nose-band and a thin (nylon?) rope that is tied at each cheek ring, crosses over the nose piece and then has reins that are looped over his neck. It’s an interesting device and I’d love to see what is under the nose band; is the rope criss-crossed under there and laying on Paul’s nose, or is the twine only across the top of the padded nose band? If it’s only over the top, then I wondered, why use it at all? Maybe it criss-crosses under the jawbone? I did rewind and watch this section a few times because I’ve not seen this configuration before, although it may be quite common across the pond in European countries?
Peggy explains that the rigging will help Paul to overcome the tension in his head and neck and as he is moving he can shift his weight side to side, front to back and from bottom to top. This description helps the viewer envision a balanced horse and how he should carry himself. In this section, Paul is quite high-headed, a little tense and is looking at the camera. Pretty boy!
Peggy explains the halter is fitted snugly and then she begins to assess him, saying he’s heavy in her hand and that he doesn’t want to stop. She begins walking in a serpentine and when he’s turning to the right, he raises his head and speeds up. He doesn’t look to the right or bend his neck to the right. At the halt, he coasts through it and raises his head, before actually stopping his feet.
She describes the “Cheek Press” (mentioned in Part 4). Cheek pressing is her setting the back of her fisted hand on the horse’s cheek, behind the halter while simultaneously holding the rope rein in her other hand and gently asking him to bend toward her, to the left. Paul is quite stiff and resistant to giving in to this pressure so she goes into describing a solution called “Caterpillar.”
Caterpillar aims to relax and lengthen the neck muscles by her hand resting on the neck near the throat latch, while her other hand holds the inside rein/line. Paul raises his head and is stiff to the left. Peggy then steps back and away from Paul so that he may more easily turn, but he is still quite reluctant to do so. There is a clear difference in how Paul moves going to the left versus the right. Peggy notices that he has a vertebrae popping out and tense halfway down the left side of his neck. She strokes his scapula from withers to the point of the shoulder and continues on with the session. Paul looks better balanced but still increases speed to the right.
Peggy demonstrates the “Shoulder Press” to help him find relief. She holds her right hand near the top of his left leg near the tip of the scapula near the point of the shoulder. She says to press in with moderate pressure with the right hand, while holding the horse’s head with the left hand. Gradually, she reduces the pressure she has been applying. The entire press takes less than a minute and then is repeated. Paul looks a tad agitated and shakes his head before lowering it and shaking again. He looks happy enough and this is said to be the desired reaction.
Paul is once again walked in hand and Peggy shows how to do the “Wither Rock” which is done while the horse is walking. She puts her right hand on the withers and maintains the contact with her left rein. As Paul walks, she gently pushes his withers away from her and then back toward her. Paul react by lowering his head. He gets a break and she walks ahead while showing him to be more relaxed and happy, with a lowered head. Here, the video stops.
Overall, I enjoyed the video and felt that the trainer is well-experienced and knowledgeable. I liked the visuals showing how to do each exercise and the explanation of what the goal was in each one. I loved that the video was short and to the point, though I’d have really liked a bit more on each topic since I’m not familiar with Peggy Cummings or her methodology.
An example of where I wished for more was at the end where she talks about the vertebrae being popped out and stiff and then runs her hand down his shoulder to fix it, along with doing the shoulder press. I wondered why it would help and how would people know they’d done enough. Since he sped up when going to the right, it would have been good for Peggy to explain why working his stiff left side made that happen. Most people likely know why, but a word addressing his need for speed would fill in the blanks.
I’d also love to know the rope configuration on the halter she uses and if there is a reason for it. I found her to be easy to follow for the most part, and I feel that once I’m more familiar with her terminology and methods, I’ll get more out of each video.
I’d recommend this and her other videos to anyone wanting to learn more about their own horse’s way of going and how to fix it. Peggy could perhaps include more detail in a slightly longer video so the viewer more deeply understands what, why and how to help their horses. She has a ton of knowledge and is a good teacher!
I don’t know anything about most of the trainers listed, and that’s a plus as I believe that makes me a true “new eyes” kind of viewer. In conclusion, I’d love to lesson with this trainer as she has a little different take on body work to help the horse. If you’ve not heard of her or of wehorse, you may want to take a peek. Here’s the website: https://www.wehorse.com/en/
If you watch and want to discuss further, contact me directly here: TanyaBuck.com, and while you’re on my website, grab your free goodies and join my contact list. I look forward to hearing from you!
Keep learning and sharing the love of the horse, Happily Ever After!