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So Called "Common Knowledge"
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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Joined: Sun Jun 21st, 2015
Location: Guilford, Connecticut USA
Posts: 36
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 Posted: Wed Jan 11th, 2017 07:40 pm
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Hi Dr. Deb and Friends-

With all the knowing in this forum a number of things that are accepted as common knowledge to the general horse public have been shown to be less than true.  Examples include: Everyone knows classical dressage and competitive dressage are the same thing, everyone knows you must blanket your horse below 40F, everyone knows if your horse doesn't do what you ask then you make him do it, and everyone knows trick training is detrimental to show performance.

These Truths are often perpetuated by not questioning their validity. I have questions, and I'm sure other forum members do too! What do you wonder about?

1) "Wait 30 minutes after eating grain before riding your horse." Granted, I never feel well if I have to do something strenuous after eating a heavy meal, but should this be a hard truth or is it based on the "work" you ask the horse to do?

2) "Horses sweat most over the muscles that are working so you can tell if your work supported good riding or not.  For example, dressage horses want to have foam between the hind legs but not excessive sweat on their neck."  This sounds reasonable to me and I've seen horses sweat more in one location than another, but I don't know if it's completely true.

Hopefully this turns into a fun discussion, cheers!


Joined: Fri Feb 3rd, 2012
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 Posted: Fri Jan 13th, 2017 01:54 am
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I'll give this a go.

I've heard that theory about foam too. Now I know better. Foam is just sweat mixed with air. That white foam between the back legs is the butt cheeks rubbing together mixing up the sweat with some air.
Foam on their neck is the reins rubbing on the neck mixing sweat with air.
Foam on their mouth is saliva mixed with air by the tongue.
Think about buying whipping cream in a carton. Then what happens when you turn on the beaters?

My belief is a horse should be lightly moist all over if they have been worked to the point of sweating. Saliva on the mouth is OK, but not excess foam. That is a sign of tension in my book, and a busy tongue (possibly from a tight noseband).

I used to feed grain right before a cross country run, buying into the theory that they'd need the extra energy. Now, I don't feed any grain.

My beliefs have changed over the years as I stopped parroting what I'd been "taught" and started learning for myself.

I'm a dressage rider. Also trail ride and enjoy watching Harry Whitney teach. Also recently saw Buck for the first time.

My journey has been interesting in that I rode for years with someone from the Spanish Riding School (most would consider this classical), and seeing the comparisons/similarities/differences in what I learned there with what I'm learning now. I actually find many similarities. The difference is in the execution. How I (me myself and I) execute what I learned. It mostly comes down to feel.

I do not believe that horse show dressage can be the same thing. Because as soon as your goal is competition, it changes things. I hear people say it all the time that you can do both. Sure you can do both. But they will not be the same. For example: if you school a flying change at home, you might not execute it in the place you plan to if something isn't right. You might abort the mission. At a horseshow, even if something is off, you would do the change anyway and hope for the best to get the score. And as an extreme, someone who is showing might demand the change even at home if it isn't right, because they must do the change at (insert letter here), and they think they are teaching the horse that they must obey. So you are giving up a huge chunk of that feel by charging on ahead. Hope this makes sense. I'm sure I still screw it up more than I get it right, but hopefully my horses have to fill in less for me now than they used to.


Joined: Sun Jun 21st, 2015
Location: Guilford, Connecticut USA
Posts: 36
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 Posted: Mon Jan 16th, 2017 04:24 am
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Should have been less specific, mostly I just mean sweat between the cheeks.  Unfortunately rather than come up with discussion I've only come up with more questions.

3) Everyone knows horses need a day off per week. At the race track they don't get a day off (which would be walking 30 minutes) unless they either breezed or raced the day before.  With our pleasure horses, do they need a full day of not being bothered, or if the work varies a lot and you have regular light days of walk work and a few trot and canter transitions does that suffice? Is that advice aimed at not souring the horse to hard work all the time?

Last edited on Mon Jan 16th, 2017 04:24 am by Bryy


Joined: Mon Nov 24th, 2014
Location: North Carolina USA
Posts: 38
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 Posted: Sat Feb 11th, 2017 07:31 am
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I’m not knowledgable about some of these things mentioned-I have no interest In showing, so don’t know much about that world.

I have been told that grain before a ride (more than a small handful) is a bad idea-was told it could interfere with the breathing process.

Regarding muscles and sweat, the muscular system seems to me to be quite interconnected with superficial muscles and deep muscles, as well as ligament/tendons/the skeletal system. I am not sure if it is possible, or if it is, advisable to attempt to work « one particular grouping » of muscles. I would think the movement result would be the indicator-is the movement straight, united, balanced, fluid, et al, and certainly mental/emotional countenance.

Regarding the day off thing, I try to be real observant of my horse’s expression when I go to bring him up. Sometimes a day off can be a nice walk in the woods to check the fence line, or just hanging out with him in the herd (a real opportunity for communication observation for me). Sometimes it’s just come in for some scratches and a bit of grain.

I tend to be too rigid in my approach to things, so I’m always looking for opportunities to try to feel the right thing, rather than look for specific signs. I used to think in terms of scheduling a day off, but found I still selfishly would do it at my convenience. I do go up with a plan, but not an agenda. Sometimes when he seems a little bothered by me coming to get him I might reflect upon what we’ve been doing, and how present and clear I have or haven’t been, and try to change my approach instead.

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