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Past Blog News, Reports and Pictures (2007 - 2012)

Diary2012| South Africa Tour | Biomechanics Course | Germany |
Diary2011| Global Dressage Forum | Biomechanics Course | Copenhagen | Making DVD | Brasil
Diary2010 | Conference | Mar | Apr - Jul | Gerd Heuschmann |
Diary2009 | Jan Mar | Conference | Apr | May | Jun |
2008
| Feb | Mar | May | July | Oct | 2007

Blog for May and June 2012

May and June have been two busy months. On return from our second visit to Qatar, we held a very successful day course at Lincoln University. These day courses are always popular with colleges and organisations such as the RDA . A lot can be covered in a day course and at Lincoln, as well as covering the anatomy of the Musculo Skeletal system we looked at movement on the flat, a ridden horse and exercises to keep the horse Soft and Supple.

This was swiftly followed by our second biomechanics Course and a day course for the Estate and Land Agents Andrew Granger (See pics below). We have run several day courses for organisations keen to say thank you to their clients. Somerby, near Oakham in Leicestershire, proved to be a fantastic venue. A lovely school, a solarium under which we could paint, (really shouldn’t be necessary at this time of year!) and a wonderful lunch provided by Andrew Granger for their clients made this a very successful event. Freddie, made a guest appearance and as usual loved playing to the audience.

At the end of June, we gave two very successful and hugely enjoyable demonstrations in the South of England. The first was for Dorset Equine Vets – another client evening – this time for a veterinary practice. After learning more about their horses’ musculo – skeletal systems, approaching 200 delegates watched two beautifully moving horses working on the flat and jumping. During the interval everyone enjoyed a superb bar- b -que and a glass or two of Pimms.

The following evening saw us at the Mount Mascal Riding club near the Dartford Tunnel in Kent. Again, this demonstration was really well attended. (There are more pictures on Facebook www.facebook.com/horsesinsideout)
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and again we had two superb horses. They were ridden and lunged by the Centre Staff. As both were such wonderful jumpers, we were able to really appreciate ‘How the Horse Jumps’ and to show and suggest ridden exercises that everyone can do at home to improve their own horses way of going. We would like to say a huge thank you for everyone at these demonstrations who made us so welcome and worked so hard to make them all a success.

Pictures from the HIO Demo in Kent for the Mount Mascal Riding ClubHorses Inside OutGH HIOGillian Higgins GH HIOGH HIO GH HIO

 

 

 

Pictures from the HIO Anatomy Day Course at Hartpury College for FE students

Hartpury Day Course

Hartpury Day Course

Hartpury Day Course with HIO

The Easter Holidays has brought a flurry of Ponies Inside Out Seminars. Anatomical Painting for children and adults. A practical way to learn whilst having fun!

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Applied Biomechanics Course with Gillian Higgins at Moulton College, Equine Vet and Therapy Centre - 28th & 29th April 2012. A popular weekend

Here are some pictures from the Hydro-Therapy Demonstration:

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Bio Course 12

 

 

 

Bio Course Moulton

Bio Course

Bio Course

Gillian Higgins with Horses Inside Out at Al Shaqab Equestrian Centre, Doha, Qatar

Al Shaqab Equestrian Centre in Doha, is part of the Qatar Foundation and has the most impressive equestrian facilities we have ever seen. The centre itself is currently split into 3 departments; Endurance, Breeding and Show and the Riding Academy. The show jumping, dressage and main veterinary centres are still under construction. Each department has between 100 and 210 horses and their own grooms, state of the art air conditioned stable blocks, sand turn-out pens, swimming pools, treadmills, spas, individual veterinary departments, exercise tracks and  arenas as well as 3 or 4 eight horse horse walkers per department! Al Shaqab is home to the largest indoor arena in the world with seating for 6,000 spectators! For our demonstration we cordoned  off an approximately  60x40m area in which we still looked and felt lost in the vast overall space!

We enjoyed a wonderful 3-days at the Centre. As well as getting to know how the centre functions, we put on a  full Horses Inside Out demonstration for members of the public and Al Shaqab staff . This was followed by a  Ponies Inside Out session with children from the Riding Academy which was thoroughly enjoyed by all with some spectacular results!
During our stay, Gillian also worked with the Al Shaqab endurance team – one of the best in the world. The day began with a seminar demonstrating how an understanding anatomy can help to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance. The emphasis was on understanding posture the structures and mechanisms that help to support it. In the afternoon we held a practical session where the endurance grooms and riders appreciated and practiced exercises to help develop core muscles, suppleness and flexibility.

The visit was thoroughly enjoyable, hard work and a great success.

We are really looking forwards to returning and working with Al Shaqab again in the future.

By David Higgins

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Horses Inside Out Conference 2012 - All Systems Go

Speakers included Dr Pat Harris, John Killingbeck. Dr Svend Kold, Dr Andrew Hemmings,
Dr Lesley Young, Dr Jeremy Naylor, Haydn Price and Gillian Higgins.

Conference 2012

Conference Photos taken by www.HelenRichmondPhotography.com

Horses Inside Out Annual Conference 2012 Report by Claire Ellis

Held at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, the 2012 Annual Horses Inside Out Conference was, again, a great success as some of the UK’s top speakers discussed Horse Anatomy and how it affects performance. The conference was a sell-out, something which in the current climate, the HIO team was very proud of! The programme followed a slightly different schedule this year, with no practical sessions and a total of 7 guest speakers, all leading experts in their field.

This year, the conference also, very excitingly, saw the launch of Gillian’s latest book “Horse Anatomy for Performance”; 160 full colour pages looking at the 11 different influential body systems, this much anticipated book features never-seen-before paintings and high quality images and diagrams, making horse anatomy accessible and interesting to all.

Day One

Day one of the conference was led by John Killingbeck, as he explored the “Horse in the 21st Century”. John is the Veterinary FEI delegate at several international competitions, has travelled to three Olympic Games and several European Championships and holds a particular interest in competition horses, especially in lameness diagnosis, orthopaedics and foot problems.

John’s interesting and informative talk discussed and considered how the modern day equine has evolved and the various adaptations that have occurred to ensure survival of the fittest for over 55 million years. He explained that it is important to recognise these changes in when it comes to training horses and also the point that many recent diseases and ailments that are ‘popularly’ suffered in the equine world can be linked directly to 21st Century lifestyle and the huge change in emphasis from work-horse to the modern day pleasure-horse.

The second speaker of the morning was Dr Andrew Hemmings, who led a highly engaging talk on ‘Understanding the Brain Function to Optimise Health, Welfare and Performance’ of horses. Andrew is an Equine Neuroanatomist and the Principal Lecturer in Animal Science at the Royal Agricultural College. His main expertise and interest is in brain function in relation to stereotypy performance, brain function in relation to learning and the genetic factors underlying horse behaviour. This paves the way for a deeper insight into the functioning of other anatomical structures and their influence on performance. Andrew also leads the very popular Horses Inside Out dissection programmes with Gillian.

Andrew showed delegates, using both a useful mix of theoretical and proven knowledge, just how stereotypical equine behaviour can be used to optimise training, welfare and general health. He also helped to explain further that there is a definite linkage between brain function and behaviour of horses, and that many modern stereotypical behaviour traits that are shown in horses today may function as a coping mechanism employed in a stressful environment.

The next speaker of the day was Dr Pat Harris who is the director of science at the Waltham Equine Science group; she is also a Professor of Equine Studies at Virginia State University and a European Specialist in Veterinary Clinical and Comparative Nutrition. Pat lectures all over the world on Nutrition as it affects the health, welfare, behaviour and performance and is the author of numerous scientific papers. In her first lecture of the weekend, Pat spoke to delegates on the correct feeding and management to reduce the risk of horses tying-up (also known as Equine Rhabdomyolysis Syndrome). Tying-up is becoming an increasing worry to many owners, riders and vets; the syndrome, which primarily affects horses’ muscles, can occur in a horse of any age, breed or gender.

Pat explained to the audience, that although there is no definite procedure, or procedures that can guarantee horses don’t suffer from Equine Rhabdomyolysis Syndrome, there are indeed ways of managing the nutrition and daily keep of those susceptible that may help to reduce the likelihood, severity and frequency of any potential future episodes. These procedures include regular exercise and correct nutritional keep and dietary management.

The next speaker was Jeremy Naylor, who very kindly stepped in to replace Yogi Briesner who had been called away on specific Olympic duties. Jeremy, a passionate racehorse trainer and rider, is a specialist equine veterinarian. After graduating from the University of Bristol, he spent several years at Washington State University gaining an advanced training in equine exercise physiology and internal medicine. On completion of a PhD at Bristol on his return to the UK, he worked for the Valley Equine Hospital in Lambourn before joining the champion National Hunt trainer Martin Pipe for two seasons.

Jeremy’s interest in the horse as an athlete, and the correct training and management that is necessary to get the best out of it for its specific purpose is mirrored in the work that he does with racehorses. He spoke on how modern day training has evolved so that the guess work of getting horses fit can be removed and how it is possible to tailor sessions to specific horses in order to get the best from them.
The final speaker of Day One was Dr Svend Kold. Dr Kold is a consultant specialising in Equine Orthopaedic Surgery. He is a world leader in his field and has published extensively. He lectures regularly at congresses both in the UK and Europe and is co-author of "Clinical Radiology of the Horse". As a racing enthusiast Dr Kold is Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Ascot Racecourse.
Dr Kold led a highly interesting series of talks, focusing on Back and Pelvic problems in the Equine Athlete and also Conformational Effects on Performance in horses. He discussed training methods and ideas that may be useful in helping to eliminate potential problems, or indeed to try and correct those problems that may already be prominent including common back, neck, poll and pelvic problems.                                                
To close the first day of the conference, the five speakers from that day left themselves open to delegate questions in the form of a discussion panel which raised lots of topical and interesting questions and helped them to delve a little further into the minds of the experts.

Day Two

Day two of the weekend conference again proved to be a warm, gloriously sunny day, with many happy returning delegates from the day before and a few new faces. With the new book ‘Horse Anatomy for Performance’ proving so popular the day before, new boxes had to be opened and displayed as everyone wanted to make sure they got their copy before it had even hit the shops.

Haydn Price, consultant farrier to the BEF and team farrier to the British Dressage and Show Jumping Teams started the day; Haydn has a particular interest in performance horses and from this he has developed a specialist Equine Referral Centre. In 2004 he developed the Equinalysis Gait Analysis system which is now used by World Class Performance to assess locomotion; Haydn is also a regular contributor to publications and research programmes and lectures internationally within Europe, America and Mexico.

With his lectures looking at the Critical Factors in maintaining Soundness in the modern Sports Horse, Haydn spoke to delegates on the various ways in which hoof capsule balance, deformation and corrective shoeing practices can be incredibly influential when it comes to soundness in the horse. He also explored how the positioning of the shoes and the type of shoe selected could possibly effect the range of joint motion in the horse and therefore its anatomical performance. All of which proved a very interesting topic for discussion amongst delegates.

Following Haydn’s engaging discussion, John Killingbeck returned to explore the idea of the ‘Clumsy Horse’. John put the idea forward that there may not actually be such a thing as a ‘clumsy’ horse, but that in fact it could be down to neurological factors. An interesting area of conducted research, John explained to delegates that there can often be many clinical signs of this problem: they can be a combination of proprioceptive deficits and also impaired motor function. Diagnosed effectively through gait analysis, lameness assessment and also a change in temperament or demeanour, often horses with the classic ‘clumsy’ symptoms have been found following examination, to have missing chromosomes which give extra weight to the issue being neurological.

Next to speak on Day Two was Dr Pat Harris, who returned to discuss how nutrition can affect laminitis and obesity in horses, and how equestrians’ can practically manage nutrition and feeding in these animals.
It is a common fact that the best way to manage an obese horse is to prevent it from becoming obese in the first place, but it is also incredibly important that obesity management in equines is targeted and relevant to the individual horse in question. Obesity in horses, as in humans, means that their performance levels, anatomical capabilities and general health issues can be severely impaired providing serious long-term health (and sometimes psychological) problems. Pat then went on to explore and recommend different management systems and nutritional supplements that could be useful when feeding the obese horse.

When exploring the management of laminitic prone horses (and pasture associated laminitis), Pat emphasised the point to delegates that although obesity in the equine may reduce the risk of contracting laminitis, equally lean non-obese animals may suffer from it, as do those that graze on pasture with a high non-structural carbohydrate content (simple sugars, fructans and starch).

Pat provided delegates with very useful facts and advice on managing the laminitic equine and also the grazing and feeding that it receives; something that proved to be of great interest to delegates who all had a story to tell on the subject!
The final speaker of the conference was Dr Lesley Young; a specialist in equine cardiology with particular interest in the effects of general anesthesia on the equine heart and clinical cardiology of athletic horses, she runs a referral cardiology and sports medicine service at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket. Lesley obtained her RCVS Diploma in veterinary Cardiology in 2000 and was given RCVS specialist status in 2006. Since December 2005, she has provided an ambulatory equine cardiology referral service to general practitioners throughout the UK and Europe.

Lesley’s two topics for discussion were on equine heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation and also on the topic of heart murmurs in horses and what they mean. Using a combination of visual and practical slides, Lesley provided a highly insightful and incredibly interesting talk to delegates as she looked into irregularities in how the heart performs and the impacts that it can have on the horses including declines in performance, and the various methods of treatment that are available to combat the problems. She also went on to recommend when and how treatment and diagnoses should be given to those that may be worried and the best way that re-conditioning could occur.

The weekend proved to be a wonderful success, with positive feedback and happy delegates who all confirmed that what they had learnt was highly useful and insightful for their careers.

Report writtem by Claire Ellis

Horses Inside Out at the WAHO Conference 2011, Doha, Qatar

Having left England in the pouring rain early Friday morning we (David and Gillian) arrived in Doha, Qatar to find a hot and humid evening! It was great to join in the World Arabian Horse Organisation Conference on their tours of the Arabian stud farms in the desert. We got a real flavour of the Arabian horse industry in Qatar. The larger Arabian and racing studs we visited were incredible, the stables were air conditioned fly free zones with all the best for comfort, areas of the desert were watered to create grazing paddocks for the horses, great facilities including solariums, treadmills, spas, swimming pools and gallops. Each stud did a presentation of its best horses which gave us an opportunity to appreciate different breeding lines and types of Arabian horses and an insight into the way horses are shown and handled. The hard stand- up and shanking were something new to me and something which, in my opinion, really goes against conditioning the muscular skeletal system for health and correct posture. During these tours it was interesting to talk to the delegates of the conference, who represented so many nationalities including British, Australian, American, Iranian, Qatari, French, German, Spanish, Italian and so many more. It was good to learn that these people also felt quite strongly against the use of shanking and that both the hard stand up and spinning has been removed from the requirements of showing Arabians in the UK.

Held at the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club My presentation, focusing on back posture and how maintain it, was well received and appreciated. We painted up 2 horses one Arabian and one other, both from Al Samariyah Stud. It was great to see the Arabian painted up with his skeleton move as it was really quite different!

Hopefully will soon get a copy of the video! The entire conference proceedings are available from www.Waho.com

Painted Horses

Arabian Horse Showing Al Samariyah Equestrian Centre

 

Camel Racing

Arabian Horse at Al Samariyah

 

Camel

Gilian with foal

Swim at Umm Qarn Farm

Claire with Mozart Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club

Gillian Higgins Speaking at the Global Dressage Forum 2011

David and Gillian Higgins at Bartels Academy Horses Inside Out Global Dressage Forum Gillian Higgins Helen Richmond

 

Anatomy Global Dressage Forum 2011

Biomechanics Course 10 - 11th September at Defence Animal Centre, Melton Mowbray 2011

The first Horses Inside Out 2-Day Biomechanics Course was a great success!

The first Horses Inside Out biomechanics course held on 10th 11th September 2011 at the Animal Defence Centre Melton Mowbray. The course, hosted by Farrier Major Bob Black-wood of the Army School of Farriery filled within a week of tickets going on sale. 30 delegates from Great Britain, America, Germany and Holland enjoyed lectures including the biomechanics of the axial and appendicular skeleton, the musculature, tendons and ligaments. The delegates also studied the applied biomechanics of achieving postural correctness spinal bend and engagement, the positioning of the head and neck, movement, rider asymmetry, the use and value of training aids, and the biomechanics of jumping. All talks were supported by a comprehensive range of specimens and a fascinating selection of slow motion photography. Course notes were provided.

The army provided horses for the practical and ridden demonstrations. The horses were ‘on holiday’ from their normal duties on parade in London. During the lunch break delegates were treated to a talk and tour by the farrier Major and treated to a skilful demonstration of how to make shoes by two of the army farrier delegates.

The course, attended mainly by therapists, podiatrists, farriers, trainers and riders, counted for 16 hours CPD. The second Biomechanics course on 28th and 29th April is filling fast!

Some comments from the feedback forms, all of which were very complementary, are below.

‘I really enjoyed this course, full of variety. Gillian’s enthusiasm and passion can only infect you. I shall certainly be back for the dissections!. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I shall go home and view my horses in a totally new way!’  Sarah Braithwaite.

‘ I have had a very enjoyable 2 days. Gillian clearly knows her stuff and explains concepts very well. The visual aids and hands on practices really complement the course and, Gillian and Shirley were perfect hosts!’ Catherine Pittam

‘Thanks very much. I found the course enjoyable and helpful. Video footage was really interesting and helpful. I would definitely recommend the course to others.’ Genny Beck

‘Thank you for a lovely weekend. I am now able to put across biomechanics in my teaching. Lovely venue as well!

‘ Should be put across for all professional bodies including farriers, vets and therapists!’

‘Gillian is fantastic! She makes it very easy to learn. Lot of information to take home and use in practice. Loved it! Francie Matthews USA.

‘Chairs and tables very comfortable. I have been on some courses where seating arrangements terrible! Venue hospitable , horses fantastic. Think you hit it bob on! All course notes in place, ready and waiting. Well organised, good food and great presenter.’

Course Members photo by geoff@geoffmarstonphotography.co.uk

Copenhagen- IETA Scandinavia

Thursday 25 August

Well, can you believe it, after a few weeks of miserable grey (typically English) weather, the day that we leave the country for Scandinavia turns out to be gloriously sunny and hot! But with suitcases heavy with books and DVD’s we boarded the plane at Stanstead, looking forward to our Danish adventure (hoping they were experiencing similar weather!).

Landing at around 8pm??? We met with our host, and IETA Denmark organiser Eva, who took us to where we were to stay and ‘live’ whilst in Denmark: home of Lisette and Stephen. After a long day our beds were very welcome!

Friday 26 August

8am and with the weather threatening to rain at any moment, Eva took us for a quick tour of the local area and a visit to the supermarket. As we had arrived in the dark the previous evening, we were unable to appreciate just how beautiful the Danish countryside was. Green fields, full of lush crops and so many horses, were in every direction. But our tour was not for long, and after a quick cup of tea (very English!) it was time to start meeting our horses and riders that had volunteered to be part of Saturday’s demonstration.

First, we met Kristine, who had brought a friend’s horse (due to her own being lame): Romany, a 5 year old, 16.2hh bay Danish Warmblood mare, by the famous Danish dressage stallion Bluehorse Romantique. After observing how she moved and her jumping and flatwork capabilities, Gillian ran through what was to happen in the demonstration and even tried to start learning a few Danish words for the gaits!

Next, it was time to look at the bones! Kindly provided by the University of Copenhagen, we were lucky enough to have two complete sets of skeletons. One of which turned out to be very interesting, with various unusual abnormalities, including signs of arthritis and also fused bone structures which would have not been very comfortable for the horse.

We then experienced a typical Danish lunch of Rye Bread and cheese and some delicious cakes from the local shop. Sitting around the table in Lisette’s beautiful house it was lovely to talk to further members of IETA from Sweden, as well as prepare for the next day!

After lunch, it was time to meet our grey lunge horse, Windsor who had travelled a long way (over 4 hours!) to get to us. Windsor had very unfortunately had a small incident in the trailer, resulting in a graze to his leg and head. He was still sound though, so we continued to have a practise and ran through what he would be showcasing in the demonstration, with fingers crossed he would still be sound in the morning!

After a good few hours spent in an indoor school, we decided to go for a quick walk around the small town, whilst the weather was dry! Walking along bridlepaths and footpaths ajoining the stables, we saw just how beautiful Denmark is. Windmills, traditional Danish properties and farms lined the tracks and we were beginning to wish that we were able to spend more time there to appreciate it more! It was then back to the yard for a soundcheck on the audio equipment and projector screen and to ensure that everything was ready and set to go in the morning.

As a precautionary measure (incase Windsor proved not to be sound in the morning), we decided to have a Plan B and have a quick practise with another potential lunge horse. This proved easier said than done, as ideally it needed to be a grey or light coloured horse for maximum impact painting, all of which appeared to be in short supply!

First, we tried Cocoa, who also turned out to be lame. Disaster! So then we tried Asterix, a 13.2hh Dun Fjord pony (not quite the same as the 16.2hh Danish Warm Blood, Windsor), but equally every bit as much of a superstar!

Asterix turned out to be the perfect showman, and was going to be fantastic at helping to apply the theories behind biomechanics and how the horse moves, to an “every day pony”.

Practises complete, and the schedule for the morning perfected, it was time for pizza and an early night!!

Saturday 27 August

4.30am alarm clock of fireworks!! Yes, Fireworks from a town party! Not quite, the usual alarm clock we are used to, but certainly very effective and convenient as we were due to start painting the horses at 5am!

With a storm approaching, we began painting with some very willing helpers! Asterix, our lunge horse (sadly Windsor’s leg was swollen), was going to be sporting a painted skeleton on one side, and his muscles on the other, where as Romany was to have her front and hind limbs and her neck vertebrae.

By 5.45am, the storm had finally broke, with the loudest claps of thunder and most dramatic of lightning flashes you can imagine. But, this didn’t deter our wonderful team of helpers who proved excellent at providing cups of tea and paint brushes!

And by 9am the horses’ paintings were complete and the indoor arena set up ready.

9.30am and the crowds started to arrive, with our stock of books and DVD’s starting to sell out, even before Gillian began speaking!

The demonstration went very well and not even the language barrier proved to be a problem! With nothing but good feedback, and a complete sell out of books and DVD’s, it appears safe to say that the visitors were all very pleased with how it went, and what they learnt on the day.

After a quick shower, we were then very lucky to be able to join the IETA Scandinavia team, Lisette and Stephen in a wonderful meal at a French Bistro in the beautiful town of Køge. With a fairytale setting in a traditional Danish town square, it was really a lovely end to our short trip; before our 8 am start to the airport the next morning to fly home to a (hopefully!) sunny England!

 

 

Click here to see more Pictures

 

muscles skeleton equine denmark Fjord

 

Fjord pony skeleton trot

 

Horses Inside Out IETADK

 

ridden skeleton walk

Universidade do Cavalo, Sorocaba, Brasil 2011
Exactly a year after the last visit, it was great to go back again - so many familiar and welcoming faces, but also many new people. This year the clinic was 2 days of Pilates, Stretching and Massage for Horses.  It was fantastic to have the time to thoroughly explain all the principals and anatomy behind the exercises and all the people on the course thoroughly enjoyed it. Early each morning 5.30am I started painting horses with the help of several keen students from the University. For me 5.30 am was not a problem, due to the 5 hour time difference!
The theory and practical sections on the first day, all about the skeleton and palpation of bony landmarks, prepared the delegates well to paint horses on Sunday morning. Despite being an optional session starting at 7am nearly all of the delegates got involved, we all had such fun and the results were seriously impressive!
The idea of this course was to really give the students enough background knowledge to be able to use the practical exercises and techniques effectively. It was a good mix of hands-on sessions, practical demonstrations and theory sessions using the painted horses and video based lectures. It was also great to see the response to my new video footage and pictures taken so far this year!
There were several changes at the Universidade do Cavalo since August 2010; progress has definitively been made! There are now 65 horses at the University and new buildings. But some things most definitely haven’t changed, the atmosphere, hospitality and they still serve cake for breakfast (proper chocolate cake with a rich gooey chocolate topping on Saturday morning and a saturated lemon cake with butter icing on Sunday morning!). I really think this ought to catch on in England!!!
This year has been a flying visit; arriving on Friday “recovering from jet lag” and presenting the course on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Plans for next year are already a foot and I look forward to planning another different 2 day course and returning to the Universidade do Cavalo  in 2012!
gILLIAN Higgins HIO brasil

Brasil Horses INside OUt

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Gillian Higgins painting horses

 

Making of the DVD – Pilates for Horses

The filming for the new Horses Inside Out DVD, Pilates and Stretching for Horses, took place over two days during the last week of July. It went as smoothly as can be, with Freddie gleaming silver and fantastic weather. Having filmed the previous DVD, the film crew was very experienced with this sort of project but they did say that this was one of their more extraordinary ones!

The first day of filming was at Field Farm in Leicestershire www.fieldfarmcrosscountry.co.uk where the beautiful countryside provided a perfect backdrop. Freddie, who is a natural in front of the camera, patiently did all the exercises whilst the camera crew captured various angles. The day wrapped up with Jane, a pilates enthusiast and world class runner, demonstrating the relevant human pilates exercises.

The second day of filming took place at top event rider Fiona Davidson’s yard. www.fionadavidsoneventing.co.uk We used many of her gorgeous horses to demonstrate the pilates and stretching exercises in the stable. Fiona used one of her top event horses, a gorgeous bay mare, to demonstrate the ridden exercises. After filming posture of both horses and riders, we were able to say “It’s a wrap!” to much excitement! The DVD is now in the editing studio, we can’t wait to see the results!

The Dublin Horse Show 2011

The Dublin Horse Show was a huge success! We arrived on Tuesday August 2nd and met our coordinator, Jack Murphy. Jack briefed us for the coming week and got us settled in. Looking at the quiet show grounds on Tuesday, we could not imagine the crowds and excitement that would fill the grounds during the next few days!

On Wednesday, we met our demonstration horses and the team from Paul McGlone’s yard. The team were so welcoming and the horses were fantastic! We also met the other demonstrators that would be sharing our “Autograph Area” doing various appearances. The diverse line up including John, an American cowboy, and his mule Job and the Ukrainian Cossacks entertained us throughout the week!

Thursday marked our first demonstration. We were the introduction to the 3 year old performance loose jumping class in the Simmonscourt Arena. We used two very good jumping horses with skeletons and muscles painted on. Gillian explained to the massive audience about how the horse creates a jump as they went through the loose jumping chute. The horses looked beautiful and really performed well!

On Friday, Gillian lectured to thousands in the beautiful Showing Judging Ring 1 about how the horse moves. We had three horses, two on the lunge and one in hand. This was a fantastic opportunity for the crowd to get an inside look at the bones and angles that make good conformation ahead of a prestigious showing in hand class. The weather held up beautifully and we even got to catch the end of the Nations Cup! Well done Great Britain!

Saturday was our last demonstration. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate and it started raining heavily as soon as we left the stables on our way to the Simmonscourt Arena. We had two horses for the ridden display and one in hand. The Irish Army Equitation School kindly provided us with a spectacular grey Irish horse and fantastic rider, James Heelan. http://www.military.ie/education-hq/equitation-school Our second rider was Michelle Kenny, a top young Irish event rider, www.riverlodgeeventing.com on Dee Two one of Paul’s horses. After a few warm up jumps, the sun came out and so did the crowds! Gillian gave a detailed explanation of anatomy of the ridden horse jumping which was very well received.

All in all we had a fabulous few days. Great people - Great Horses - Great Show - Great Country!!

Jumping Skeleton Dublin Horses Inside Out Ridden Skeleton Horses Inside Out

Horses Inside Out RDS

Gillian Higgins HIO RDS Dublin

Gillian Higgins Muscle Chains Dublin 2011

Gillian Higgins Horses INside Out Anatomy Dublin

 

Massage Course for Horse Owners - Elms Farm, Costock

The rain and cold of June didn’t deter a very enthusiastic crowd of horse owners and professionals alike from attending the massage course held at Elms Farm in Costock. Before delving into the practical sessions, Gillian gave a short lecture on the horse’s anatomy and how to feel the anatomical structures when massaging. Using bones and diagrams, participants began to get a clearer picture of what lies underneath the horse’s skin and what they could help using massage.

In the practical sessions, Gillian demonstrated the various massage techniques. Participants had the opportunity to try the techniques on horses and ask lots of questions. In small groups with Gillian’s guidance, they developed confidence and feel for the techniques.

The day was topped off by a demonstration of the pilates and stretching exercises and a chance to try them on the horses and ask questions. Lively discussions were had about the benefits to different horses. The day was fun and informative and everyone left keen to go out and try massage and stretching with their own horses.

Anatomy of the Equine Shoulder

March, April and May have been a fantastic start for the ‘live – painted’ Horses Inside Out Demosntrations. Already this year I have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic riders and horsemen!

At the beginning of April we managed to raise £2,000 for the Riding for the Disabled Association with Avon Riding Centre in Bristol.

Already this year we have done two demonstrations organised by Students for their events marketing modules, one at Moulton College and another at Hadlow College both demonstrations raised money for their chosen charities.

My favourite demo of the year has to be Understanding How Your Horse Moves at Bold Heath organised by www.CheshireHorse.com . I was lucky enough to work with Percy - a beautiful and althetic event horse (also Grade A show jumper and Advanced Dressage Horse!) and two stunt horses – Henry welsh sec D x TB who reared, bowed, spanish walking and the highlight a miniature Shetland called Obi who did Piaffe, the Spanish Walk, Reared and walked on his hind legs and the Capriole. It was simply amazing! Have a look at some of the photos!!

Thank you to all the horses and everyone involved in all the demonstrations so far this year! They were all great fun and we never stop learning!

RDA

Report on Dissection Series 2010-11

These hands-on day courses offered a rare insight into the anatomy of the horse
and provided an invaluable opportunity to look at the structures we influence by training and therapy.
Dr. Andrew Hemmings, a Neuroanatomist and the Principal Lecturer in Equine Science and Production at the Royal Agricultural College, along with Gillian Higgins, Therapist, BHSII, Anatomist and Biomechanist led the dissections. For those wanting to participate there were plenty of opportunities for hands on both in palpation of the specimens, articulating joints and with the dissection. For those just wanting to watch, that was fine as well.
It was also good to know that no horse had been specifically sacrificed for the purposes of any of these dissection courses. Andrew collects the specimens from an abattoir as an offshoot of the sad but now booming horse meat industry due to a surplus of unwanted and unaffordable and uncared for horses.
The Cranial dissection looked at all aspects of the head and poll area including the mouth, teeth, hyoid apparatus, the musculature of the jaw and the TMJ. Andrew’s knowledge of behaviour led to an in depth examination of how brain mechanisms influence behavioural patterns and how malfunction can give rise to repetitive stereotypic behaviours such as crib-biting and weaving. We also saw how the horse responds to certain management regimes, training and new learning experiences. It also explained responses to certain outside stimuli such as touch related therapy. This demonstration paved the way for a deeper insight into the functioning of other anatomical structures seen later in the series. This really is a must!
The Spine dissection helped make sense of movement. Looking at the entire spine from poll to tail, Gillian led one dissection concentrating on joint mechanics, spinal ligaments, musculature and their effect on movement, performance and posture, whilst Andrew focused on the central nervous system, the neural plexus and the nerves and their effect on movement, learning and behavioural responses with a different  specimen. Although on the day you can range between the two, to get the best from this dissection, you really need to go twice; once to spend the day Andrew and the next time with Gillian! Even then it is impossible to take it all in!
The Limb dissection included the forelimb skeletal and musculature from the shoulder. This meant we were able to study the stay apparatus of the forelimb, the thoracic sling musculature and factors affecting range of movement. We looked at the entire hind limb from the pelvis enabling an in depth study of the superficial and deep muscles of the hind quarters, the stay apparatus, and the joints in the hind leg including the sacroiliac Joint. The strength and the stability of the sacroiliac joint really surprised and impressed me and it was great to discuss the implications of this with regards to movement. The tendons and ligaments of the lower leg and the hoof were also covered in much detail.
The inaugural Internal Organs dissection was a great success. With Catherine Hale, Equine Nutritionist and Researcher also lecturing, studying the entire digestive tract was illuminating albeit rather smelly! Andrew then led us through the female and male reproductive tracts. (It was interesting for those who had been on the cranial dissection to hear how the influence of receptors we had identified in the brain influenced mating behaviour).  We discussed the effects of training on the cardiovascular and respiratory system with Gillian and also had the opportunity to look at an in utero foal.
For those interested in really understanding the horse from the inside out, these dissections are another great opportunity to learn and deepen a knowledge of the horse. For anyone who is unsure about attending, the dissections are managed and presented sensitively and respectfully. Thank you to Andrew, Gillian and Horses and Horses Inside Out.

Gillian Higgins and Horses Inside Out in South Africa

We got our first view of Africa from the plane. Looking over the Sahara desert from 35,000 feet up, not a cloud in sight, sand dunes the size of hills looking like ripples on a beach, made us realise the immense size of this country. Although we expected it to be hot and sunny, somehow it is still a surprise waking up at 6am to a bright blue sky and the sun pouring in through the window, when you’ve just been getting used to the English winter setting in!

It is fantastic to see another country and a privilege to experience their way of life. We are staying in Kyalami just North of Johannesburg, with Kim Hughes who has organised much of this trip and is a fantastic host, showing us around. This area is one of the most densely horsey populated areas, not only in South Africa but within the world! Every property we drive past seems to be some sort of Equestrian Establishment. We have visited dressage, driving, eventing and Hippotherapy yards and the Western Shoppe, the largest horse shop in South Africa with branches in Cape Town and Durban as well as Jo’burg. At the South African Lipizzaner Centre we met Lillian Moller who kindly agreed to lend me one of her best horses for my demonstrations. We have met so many fascinating and welcoming people, including SA team vets, trainers and the chef d’equip for the SA para team. All this has really wetted my appetite and I am really keen to see more of the equine industry in South Africa.

The SA Horse Expo was held at Turffontein Racecourse just south of Jo’burg. Having had slight logistical issues on the first two journeys we got to see more of the area and experienced South African traffic and road works... I was amazed by the flag wavers – instead of having flashing lights on cones at road works they use people who stand all day and wave bright orange flags at the cars!!

The Horse Expo on 4th and 5th November had an excellent line up of speakers with specialists from all over the world, including, Pat Harris, David Marlin, Hilary Clayton, Lesley Young, Cathy McGowen, Rene van Weeren and Lars Roepstorff to name just  a few. It was also great to meet familiar and new faces at the exhibition stands. David Marlin and Madaleen and her team from vetlink did a great job organising this event.

Most of the people attending my demonstration at this expo were vets and physiotherapists. So this demonstration was more technical and a faster pace than usual. My lecture focussed on:-

  • Back movement and posture,
  • How positioning of the head and neck and hindquarters affected back posture
  • How the muscles chains worked to create movement and maintain posture
  • Isometric vs. isotonic muscle contraction in collection

Using Siglavy Cimbola a 9yo Lipizzaner from the South African Lipizzaner Centre meant I was able to really demonstrate the changes in the musculo-skeletal system between a looser and more novice way of going compared to collection and engagement. Watching Cimbola in the Piaffe and Levade with his skeleton beautifully painted on his side was spectacular. It really demonstrated flexion in the haunches, rounding of the back and lightening of the forehand. It was amazing! With the sparking gold mine dumps and a rainbow as a back drop it was really very special and different.

The demonstration at Beaulieu College, Kyalami, just north of Johannesburg on Sunday 7th was fantastic. Kim Hughes from Beaulieu Academy did a brilliant job organising this demonstration We had two fantastic horses; again we used Cimbola with his fabulous examples of extreme engagement and Ability a Novice Event horse ridden by Renee.

During my week spent around Turffontein and Kyalami we met some fantastic people. Kim and her family made us feel so welcome. I am really looking forwards to coming back in 2011 to do more demonstrations and courses! For more info on Kim’s courses at the Beaulieu Academy visit www.BeaulieuAcademy.co.za

 

The rain missed just!

Muscles in trot

Lillian with Siglavy Cimbola

Busy painting

Gillian Lillian and Cimbola

Gillian explains pelvic movement

Head and neck position

Kim Renee and Hakahana Ability

Cimbola Piaffe

Lillian with Cimbola at Turffontein Jo'burg

A Comparative Study of Equine and African Game Anatomy!!

After two fabulous demonstrations in South Africa we moved on to the Limpopo Valley in Botswana. The object of this visit: To the study the anatomy and biomechanics of other animals in Africa. To do this we went on a riding Safari with Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris. This was a fantastic experience. Riding will never quite be the same again. It reminded me why I love riding horses so much!

We stayed in tents in the bush, getting really close to nature. At night the place came alive with the noises of bull frogs, insects, hyenas, lions and leopards!

During the day was really when the studies took place. We started at 5am in the morning and were on the horses by 6am. Riding and looking for animals, tracks, fresh droppings and bones!! It was a fabulous experience. I bombarded the guides with questions about the anatomy and habits of the different animals. In comparison to the horse we studied:-

  • The Zebra, a relation of the horse of course! These animals were much smaller than I expected almost like new forest ponies in size.
  • The Impala. These common animals had a fantastic ability to jump due to the elastic recoil capacity of the hamstring tendons in the hind leg. Also present in the horse but to a lesser degree. We really tried to get some good photos and video clips of impala jumping because they would be fantastic to use in my video based demonstrations however, they were very shy so it was difficult to get close enough in the right position.
  • The Giraffe – With the same number of neck vertebrae as a horse these animals posed interesting questions about neck anatomy and biomechanics. With such a long thin neck they must really use their nuchal ligament for support. Their hearts can weigh up to 12kg – it needs to be so large and strong so it can pump the blood all the way up the long neck. Anatomical problem: when they put their head down they can die from the blood rush to the brain! So at the base of the neck there are valves in the arteries which they can shut just before they put their head down to drink – then open them again when they put their head up again.
  • The Elephant – Often weigh up to 4 tonnes; equivalent to the weight of 8 horses! Because they are so heavy the bones in their limbs are vertical columns with very straight joints – this tells us their limbs are designed to carry weight (a little like the horse’s forelimb). The elephant cannot perform a gait with a moment of suspension (so no trot or canter) The fastest pace an elephant can do is a running walk. The African elephant particularly the females when they are protecting their young get upset easily. Consequently they also tend to rampage relatively easily! A rampaging elephant can do a running walk at up to 40km per hour!!
  • The Lions and Cheetah – I particularly loved seeing the cheetah. The cheetah relies on speed for hunting and not being as big as the lions he doesn’t pick fights for food. These big cats have very angulated joints and limbs so much so they look like they are semi crouching when they are walking. The angulation of the joints in their limbs tells us they are clearly designed to create powerful movement. The biomechanics of a cheetah’s limb movement, flexing in the stance phase then pushing to create spring, is a more exaggerated example of the action of the horse’s hind limb.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip, the riding, the scenery, the animals and the people we met along the way. Best of all I now have some great photos and comparative information which will be really useful in the future. A big thank you to Louise, Saskia, Maloura, West and David from Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris. www.limpopovalleyhorsesafaris.co.bw

Elephant our favourite

Giraffe 7 neck vertebrae

Cheetah resting

Cheetah

`Zebra at Mashatu

Gillian Higgins and Horses Inside Out in Holland

Whilst recovering from jet lag after flying back from the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky. Shirley and I flew to Holland for my third International trip this year!  We went to a lovely Equestrian Centre in Emmerloord in middle of Holland. With fabulous facilities, a beautiful indoor arena comfortable seating area and a warm western steakhouse style cafe-restaurant, this was a perfect venue to hold a Horses Inside Out  day clinic. We painted a large Dutch Warmblood (Grey of course!). Mercy was the biggest horse  that I have painted standing about 17.2 hh.  During the morning the mixed group of riders, trainers, saddle fitters and therapists  looked at the musculo-skeletal system both anatomically and in motion. We then went on to movements and training to promote strength, good back posture and mobility. A traditional Dutch soup lunch preceded a series of video, classroom based talks using  numerous video clips both from film footage from my DVD and filming taken this summer. The close up and slow motion shots are an excellent way to  study how the horse jumps and to see the action of the tendons and ligaments of the lower limbs in movement and again how to look after the horse’s back. Judging by the number of e mails we have received the day was certainly a success and unlike anything the audience had come across before. I hope to have inspired a few more people to learn more about the application of anatomy and biomechanics to the horse!
The following day saw us making good use of Holland’s wonderful train service.  We went just over the border into Belgium to visit a friend, Bjorn Warin, from my International Student Riding days. It was great to visit his large breaking  yard and catch up  with an old friend.
The highlight of the whole Holland experience was on our last day when we visited the veterinary department at Utrecht University. It has been on my list to visit their extensive animal anatomy museum for several years. I was not disappointed. As well as the horse we could compare anatomical specimens from other more exotic animals such as a Giraffe, elephant and Ostrich!  It was certainly well worth the trip.

Horses Inside Out at the International Equestrian Festival and Alltech World Equestrian Games, Lexington, Kentucky.

As we flew over Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport, a maze cleverly created in the maize below read “Welcome Equestrians”. On arrival, the airport was decorated with sculptures, photographs, paintings and even an art gallery. This really is the horse capital of the world!
We stepped out into the Kentucky heat to discover life size bronze sculptures spread throughout down town Lexington and the Kentucky Horse Park. Also, created especially for WEG, were a trail of 82 life sized model horse each painted with a different  theme . These were later to be auctioned off for charity. The designs were colourful and creative but nowhere did I see a horse painted with the skeleton or digestive system!
For the International Equestrian Festival I had prepared a new demonstration “An Anatomical Journey” especially for Nutrena, a leading feed company, (www.nutrena.com) which designs it’s products based on correct nutrition.
With the skeleton on one side and the digestive system on the other, the talk focussed on nutritional needs for optimum performance.  Our live equine model Rhythm was perfect - patient, flexible and a beautiful mover. We were lent an exceptional set of bones from Idaho University.
We also visited the United States Pony Club Headquarters within the World Equestrian Games for a book signing and video based talk. It is wonderful to know just how much the book and DVD are appreciated and used in America.
After 4 days of hard work we certainly made the best of the remainder of our stay! We visited Red Mile harness racing track, marvelled at the pristine barns in the region and walked the course and enjoyed all the horse park had to offer. The highlights of course were the freestyle dressage- well done Laura and the fantastic performance by our wonderful eventing team.  It really is good to be British!

An Audience with Gerd Heuschmann

Saturday 11th September at Vale View Equestrian Centre.

Following the success of the Horses Inside Out Conference at the Unicorn Trust in 2009 and by popular request, Horses Inside Out managed to persuade Dr Gerd Heuschmann to present a follow up Seminar for us, this time in Leicestershire.

It was a fascinating day, with theory in the morning and 4 beautiful ridden and 1 lunged horse in the afternoon.

The importance of Biomechanics.
Although this subject can be learnt from books, to put it into practise we need to understand the psychological and behavioural aspects of horses - in short we need to think like a horse. We also need to be excellent horsemen with a sensitive seat. The stiller you sit the more you feel. If you are feeling annoyed or upset, concentration is lost and you cannot have a good seat. Emotions therefore must be under control! Horses are pack animals who in the pecking order respect their leader. As the rider you must be a benevolent despot, happy, relaxed, friendly, kind, forgiving and positive. To attain these qualities requires a strong confident character. Without these qualities insecurities will translate to tension. This is why they say riding is so character building!

 

Physiology of Musculature.
Increased use or a change in the way muscles are used leads microtrauma with the release of lactic acid within the tissues. If we throw 100 hay bales into a barn, our muscles will be sore the next day. This helps to explain why our horses, particularly when they are young, will work well one day but less freely the next. We, as trainers, need to respect this. Each training session stimulates remodelling of muscle fibre which can sometimes be painful. If we do not recognise this it can result in physical and mental damage.

The Spine.
The spine is a bridge construction which suspends the abdomen –approximately one third of a horse’s weight and supports the weight of the rider.

The most important structures involved in supporting the back are the neck and associated ligaments. The anatomy and biomechanics of this are clearly explained by Gillian Higgins in her demonstrations, Book and DVD.

The two circular systems that together can help to raise the back are, keeping the head and neck forwards and down and engagement of the hind end.

Initially, we can affect the head and neck more easily than the hind end. During his first year as a riding horse he needs to learn a new balance with the head and neck forward and free.  Only when a good contact has been established and he has accepted the rider do we start to affect the head and neck. As the horse progresses,  the importance of the hind end and the seat increases and can be influenced more and the significance of the positioning of the head and neck reduces.

The Longissimus Dorsi, the Long Back Muscle is the main movement muscle of the back. If these are braced to carry the rider, the back will stiffen and they can no longer contribute efficiently to movement. This will affect the gait.

The more advanced horses become in their work the more positive tension is necessary in the long back muscle. This is different from being braced. When braced, the horse becomes a leg mover rather than a back mover. Movements become over-exaggerated and it is hard to sit to the trot. The only thing to do when this happens is to go back a step, relax the back and then reconnect.

Symptoms of tension in the muscles of the back:-

  1. Lateral walk (walk is the first thing to reflect tension in the back)
  2. Loss of rhythm in trot and canter
  3. Loss of rhythm in higher collection movements (half pass, piaffe & passage)
  4. Bridle lameness. This is something not really recognised or taught within vet schools.
  5. Loss of shoulder movement as the humerus bone is held back by the Latissimus Dorsi which connects into the back fascia.
  6. Stifle held back in a more extended position by back the hamstrings which connect in to the back fascia.
  7. Parallel association of the fore radius and hind cannon bone is broken.

In a horse with a relaxed back – positive tension - cadence comes from the flexion in the haunches created during the stance phase – the joints flex, the body goes down then ‘springs’ up and in trot. There is also 100% parallel association between hind cannon and fore radius in the swing phase.

In horses with a ‘braced’ back, the “cadence” develops out of a braced back comes from a pause in mid air. When the back becomes braced the hind leg cannot step well under the body as it is held back by tight hamstring muscles, which pull the stifle backwards. There is reduced flexion in the hip, stifle and hock and the lack of ‘sink and spring’ in the stance phase is compensated for by greater extension in the fetlock. This increases the strain in the suspensory ligaments which may be a cause for hind limb suspensory desmitis.

In the afternoon Gerd worked with four very different horse.

  • Friday, a 22 year old very supple welsh cob x tb ridden by Isobel Prestiwch
  • Krack-de Niro a rising 6 Danish warmblood beautiful big moving dressage horse ridden by Gemma Cheney. 
  • Fortune’s Way, a 15 yr old 17hh gelding working towards PSG and ridden by Nikki Herbert.
  • Masterpiece, a 10 year old 16.2hh gelding ridden by Rob Lovatt – a horse with such presence and muscle that Gerd mistook him for a Stallion!

Gerd used 3 simple exercises to try and make a difference with these horses:-

1. Lateral Work in a Slow walk

  1. Helps to bring the back up.
  2. Encourages the horse to drop onto the bit – with no contact.
  3. Encourages chewing.

The walk must be slow out of a soft seat with no force. The more existing tension, the slower the walk.

In a young horse this lateral work should be a simple leg yield; in the more advanced horse, shoulder in and travers can be used.

Q.     What is the difference between the Shoulder in and the leg yield lessons for the horse?

A.     Shoulder in is a collecting lesson achieved only when the back is soft allowing flexion develop in the   haunches. Leg yield should be used in a younger or weaker horse.

Q.      How early would you start lateral work with a young horse?
A.     Old school of training  in the 2nd half of the first year or as soon as the horse is searching for a contact. 

2. Poll Movement – lateral flexion.

Poll muscles system comprise of those attached to the skull- atlas and axis. They are short and strong. An inability to release the outside results in stiffness and an inability to bend to the inside. In order to get the flexion at the poll the horse must chew. If you have a tight noseband he is unable to chew and softness in the poll required for bending / flexion - which is required to train the inside hind leg is unattainable.

Gerd demonstrated the tower rein ( holding the reins upside down so they come in between your thumb and first finger and out underneath your little finger) This is an old techniques that prevents you pulling down and back. Also has been shown if you want your horse to be round – raise your hand, wait a moment and he will come round.

A high hand rounds the poll a deep hand stretches the neck.
As the horse takes the rein the back under you starts to relax. This can be felt. Gerd believes that the tower rein is something all riders should try. Once the chewing mouth and soft poll are achieved the bit /elbow line – position can be employed. With no resistance the elbow – wrist – bit line should not be broken. If you do have resistance – do not pull back – just break the line with your inside hand – Raise your hand. Gerd usually recommends breaking the line with the inside rein because the outside rein is the leading rein, it needs to be consistent and still. Whereas the inside rein helps control the flexion and the chewing, it helps to stimulate suppleness.

3.   Rhythm

This is the first thing to look for in trot. FEI’s definition of rhythm is that one stride is exactly like another. However Gerd thinks that speed is a very important thing.  The Rhythm in Gerd’s eyes is a speed in which you and your horse are comfortable – it sows the seed of harmony and enables you both to relax. This ‘comfort zone enables you to find a softer seat where, with a soft back you can achieve both true suspension and true collection.  

Q         What about the lazy horse? If you let lazy horses go in their own comfort zone / own rhythm, they would never work !

A      In Gerds opinion, horses either rush or are unwilling to move forwards and appear lazy. Either can be the result of a stiff back and both are evasions. If you can remove the cause the symptoms will disappear.

Summary

The day gave everyone food for thought! It is always interesting but not easy to put theory  into practice and, having explained his ideas this is exactly what Gerd attempted to do. Also not easy in front of a large critical audience! The principals of the exercises demonstrated in the afternoon were simple and I think many of us will be thinking about, and trying some of Gerd’s techniques over the next few weeks. A huge thank you must go to Gerd, the horses and riders, and to Vale View for hosting such a large number of guests.

Gerd riding Friday

Gerd Heuschmann HIO

Gerd Heuschmann HIO Clinic

Gerd Heuschmann CLinic HIO

Gerd Heuschmann for HIO

HIO Gerd Heuschmann CLinic

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Horses Inside Out
at the
Universidade do Cavalo, Sorocaba, Sao Paulo, Brazil

After a rather circuitous route (involving arriving at Heathrow 12 hours early for our flight!) David and I arrived at Sao Paulo at 6.30am right in the middle of their morning rush hour. The journey to the University showed us just how populous and hectic Sao Paulo city was – buildings on top of one another, cyclists on dual carriage ways, crazy motorbikes zipping through the heavy traffic! The Universidade do Cavalo was a haven of peace by comparison! We were met by our hosts Aluisio and Paula, and straight away introduced to Brazilian Tea and Coffee – exceedingly strong!
Sugar cane is farmed in huge quantities and we quickly learnt that sugar is a key component of all food and drink over here! During our trip we even tried their sugar cane drink – a greeny brown liquid squeezed from fresh canes and chewed on sugar canes when cattle ranching on horseback!
We had three days before the clinic to work the horses, prepare and experience a little Brazilian culture. I have never had so many new taste experiences and new foods in such a short space of time. For breakfast cake was on the menu. Tea, coffee and hot milk were left heating on a wood burning range all day. A Mother of all bunches of fresh bananas was hung up for all to pick at will. One thing I have learnt...Brazilian’s will never go hungry with so many different fruits, nuts and beans growing everywhere!

 Lunch time in Brazil is a big affair with a great variety of dishes being offered and 2 hours given to digest and sleep off all the food. The evening meal, usually around a huge open fire, was supposedly a smaller meal but there was such variety! Every meal at the Universidade do Cavalo seemed to be a social affair – it always felt like a party.

The actual Horses Inside Out two day Clinic was a real success. Comprehensive, hard work but great fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. All the students from Universidade do Cavalo were so enthusiastic, dedicated and hard working. It was refreshing to work with such genuine people. We started painting at 5am on Saturday morning and to my surprise all the students and many of the visitors were up at that time to watch and help with the painting. It was great to have so many helpers and we painted the three horses in record time!

It took me a while to get used to having an interpreter, but Claudia was fantastic. I had pause after very point to give her time to repeat my sentences. This felt rather slow to start off with but after a while I realised, having to pause really gave me time think about the best way to communicate the information and it gave the audience a greater opportunity to absorb the information. I am sure those of you who have been to a Horses Inside Out Lecture demonstration, can appreciate that there is a lot to take in!!

The movement and jumping sessions were a great hit.
The horses really performed and demonstrated the principals beautifully. Our rider for the weekend, Paula rode and jumped really well. Muito Bonn Paula!


The Pilates exercises went down really well. Something completely new and different! Everyone really got stuck in having a go during the practical. We used fresh alfa alfa instead of carrots and the horses were just going crazy for it!I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Universidade do Cavalo. I was so impressed by their philosophy, dedication, attention to detail and by the way they worked their horses. Everyone was so welcoming, friendly and helpful. There was a great feeling of comeraderie and the atmosphere was fantastic. An inspiring experience!


Muito Obrigada a Aluisio ana Paula, Claudia, Paula que Montou Landherr e a Equipe U. C.!

 

HIO Team Brazil

HIO in Brazil

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Pet Nation with Liza Tarbuck, Joe Pasquale, Gillian Higgins and Freddie Fox

On Sunday 28th February the entire Horses Inside Out team set off for Television House, Wood Lane, London to take part in the new Prime Time TV programme Pet Nation. After first stretching his legs in the Blue Peter garden, Freddie was introduced to the glamorous world of Studio 8 and the dress rehearsal!
The first hurdle was making his way down a metre wide corridor lined with very chunky electric cables on one side and a battery of foot high footlights on the other all finished off with a thin wafting nylon curtain surrounding the set and more cables criss crossing the floor, thoughtfully arranged to give Freddie the opportunity to practise his raised polework!. The next challenge was keeping his footing on the highly unsuitable, very shiny gloss painted floor of the studio. At his point we realised we had a problem! After much debate between the enormous number of producers, floor managers, sound recordists editors, Uncle Tom Cobley and all, it was decided to postpone the rehearsal and we should start painting whilst the crew found rubber matting. That’s what we did – in the prop cupboard! At this point Freddie decided two things. One, he would like to go to the loo – but couldn’t under the circumstances and two, he couldn’t bear to be anywhere near his fellow stars , a pair of large, extremely vociferous parrots from Longleat! Both problems remained unsolved for the entire 9 hours we were there! After being treated to the delights of snacks from the BBC canteen [you may have heard about the canteen from Terry Wogan] and Freddie still crossing his legs we were anxious to meet Liza to discuss what Gillian was going to say and more importantly for Freddie to see the set. There would be a large studio audience for Freddie to contend with, outsize moving cameras, fluffy sound mikes, lights lights and more lights, a warm up comedian whipping the audience into a frenzy and 2 large very noisy parrots. Two shows were actually being filmed back to back and the whole thing was running late. Gillian and David were whisked off to ‘make up’ – a very strange and new experience for anyone who knows David! Time marched on and still Freddie was in the props cupboard! Then ….Gillian was suddenly called to ‘sit on the sofa’ and be interviewed by Liza and David was left to negotiate the passage -  now adorned with black rubber, with Freddie – having had no rehearsal at all. What a pro! After a slight hesitation and looking rather alarmed at the wafting curtain and, with the encouragement of a carrot, he made his way slightly erratically it has to be said, down the passage. He burst forth onto the set. Once there came to an abrupt halt This was a good thing as he was required to stand proudly displaying his skeleton from the inside Out on a strategically placed piece of ‘specially procured green grass like carpet next to a fine specimen of a rugby player clad in only in swimming trunks with his skeleton also painted on from the inside out. Liza and Joe made their way towards Freddie who played his part like the true professional he is. He smiled at the camera – ears forward most of the time - and demonstrated his flexibility brilliantly – and so did the Rugby player! All went well! The audience oo’d and ah’d.  Liza was surprised at the position of the neck bones and Joe kept his distance! He might have been brave in the jungle but he certainly was not sure about Freddie! All in all it was a wonderful experience and certainly for the human members of the team a really enjoyable one and a real insight into the crazy world of television production. Watch out for Pet Nation. It‘s a ‘prime time’ family show on Friday Evenings in the Spring. We can’t wait to see.

Liza Gills and Freddie

 

on the sofa

 

Outside Studio

 

Time out in Blue Peter Garden

 

Make up time!

 

The HORSES INSIDE OUT Conference 2010
Muscles, Mechanics and Movement

Held in Grantham at the Ramada Hotel and Arena UK this conference looked at aspects of Core Stability, Muscular Imbalance, Training, and Biomechanics in both horse and rider. The first day was led by Dr. Hilary M. Clayton, widely considered the world's leading researcher in equine locomotion and biomechanics, Director of the Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Centre, Michigan State University, vet, researcher, rider, trainer with a unique perspective on the athletic horse and  the interaction between horse and rider. Hilary’s main field of interest is gait analysis which she studies with the use of reflective markers attached to the horse. Using modern computing techniques these are converted to a ‘stick figure horse’, are tracked, and then presented as useable data.
Hilary also uses a force plate which measures the ground reaction forces as the foot weight bears enabling her to study the function and movement of the force. A selection of the topics covered were:

Function of the Limbs

By comparing the horse to an elephant and a cat, Hilary demonstrated how the angulation of joints within the limbs affects function and movement. Because an elephants’ limbs are designed to be weight bearing, they are pillar like with little angulation to the joints. Elephant’s paces have no suspension phase and their fastest gait is a running walk. Cats on the other hand have highly angulated limbs providing them with the ability to them to crouch and spring and move at speed.
Horses lie somewhere between the two. Greater angulation is seen in more athletic horses whereas those with more upright the limbs are better suited to weight bearing. The forelimb joints are less angulated than the hind because their function is to carry more weight. They act as struts, controlling speed, direction, the position of the forehand, and when jumping.
The hindlimb joints are much more angulated and therefore they provide propulsion – by flexing then pushing.

Horses have long limbs, with the weight of muscle high up the leg and close to the axis of rotation. This enables them to fulfil their function to move at speed. Hilary also offered insight into one aspect of lameness. A horse double the height of another will be six times as heavy without a comparable increase in the strength of the supporting structures. This means in general, ponies and smaller horses are easier to keep sound than larger ones.

Ground Contact

A hoof hits the ground either flat, toe or heel first. Slight heel first contact is the ideal as this evens out the impact and stimulates proprioceptors in the frog and heels. If the Hoof Pastern Axis (HPA) is broken forwards there is an exaggerated heel-toe placement. If the HPA is broken back this results in a toe first contact which results in a greater degree of tripping and increased strain on the Deep Digital Flexor Tendon. It is important that hooves are trimmed to achieve balance. Studies in Michigan, Utrecht University and the Royal Veterinary College have shown that the hoof tends to land lateral side first.

Limb Support in the Stance Phase

There are two types of tendons:-

  1. Positional Tendons

These are inelastic and remain a constant length. They do not stretch when the parent muscle contracts. These tendons are responsible for precise movements.
In the horse the Deep Digital Flexor and the extensor tendons are positional tendons and contribute to positioning the hoof for ground contact. The small wobble seen by the hoof just before ground contact (more easily viewed in slow motion video footage) is attributable to these postural tendons in the lower leg.

  1. Elastic Tendons

These stretch when loaded and recoil when released. This energy saving technique  is very useful in locomotion. Hilary gave the example of that the achilles tendon in the Kangaroo reduces the energy required for jumping by 50%!

The elasticity of the superficial digital flexor tendons and the suspensory ligaments which run down the back of the leg provide a supportive sling around the fetlock joint. When the limb is fully extended and weight bearing, the fetlock sinks down. This stretches the superficial digital flexor tendon and suspensory ligament which when released recoil. This results in flexion of the lower limb. The amount the fetlock sinks is dependant on the vertical forces (measured on the force plate). This increases with both speed and weight thus making the structures more susceptible to injury. Due to inefficient repair in elastic tendons, micro-damage accumulates with age. This can be compared to complete or partial rupture of the achilles tendon in people over the age of 40! It is therefore very important to check horses legs for heat and inflammation on a regular basis.

 

Question and Answer Session
At the end of the day Hilary was asked which studies had benefited her most as a rider? She answered that truly understanding the gaits so they became second nature has allowed her time the application of the aids to maximum advantage and a thorough understanding of how the position of the head and neck affects balance has been an enormous help. Because of the high proportion of muscle, the head and Neck account for10% of body weight which means there is a 1:10 mass ratio head and neck: to body. In practical terms this means that the head and neck have to move 10 cm before it can affect the centre of mass by 1 cm. Another application of study to riding is that because the horse’s base of support is so small it is important to be still and stable. Studies have shown that it is easier for a horse to carry a sack of potatoes than a rider, so next time someone tells you, you are riding like a sack of potatoes – take it as a complement!

When asked, what has been the biggest surprise from her studies, Hilary replied, discovering that the Piaffe has no moment of suspension!
Other topics examined during the day included and the importance of keeping muscles in optimum condition*

In all topics covered and in line with the Horses Inside Out philosophy of  the practical application of anatomy and biomechanics to movement it can be concluded that the more we can understand ‘How the Horse Moves’* the better we can improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.

*see www.HorsesInsideOut.com for books and DVD on these topics.

The second day was held at Arena UK, Allington and was led by Andy Thomas, physiotherapist to team GBR and lead practitioner for Human Science and Sports Medicine for the British Equestrian Federation. Andrew specialises in musculo-skeletal injury prevention with elite and amateur athletes identifying rider problems contributing to common rider errors. He works with riders from all disciplines.

Within equestrian sport riders often seem to appear reluctant to address their own muscular skeletal problems. Recognising this, Andy set up a mobile physiotherapy clinic in a purpose built converted lorry in 2002. This enables him to watch riders on their horses and then offer immediate physiotherapy support at events and at their own yards thus saving them saving them time and expense.

Andy has developed his own unique approach to equestrian physiotherapy aspects of which  he shared with Horses Inside Out on Sunday. Andrew recognises the importance of functional therapy so for example a footballer would be treated very differently to a rider.

What Makes a Good Rider?
Andy first explored the question of what physical attributes make an ideal rider and what physical differences one would expect to find between riders from different disciplines. For example, one would expect a top dressage rider to walk with poise whilst an eventer on the other hand may well walk with a limp!

Suppleness, balance, flexibility, agility all need to be present in riders but need to be considered in relation to function – does a rider really need to be able to touch their toes for example?

In the course of his work, Andy has identified that those with the best balance have ridden a variety of different poise and horses from an early age, have hunted, not specialised too early and have taken part in other sports. For example both Laura Bechtolshimer and Emma Hindle both played Hockey to National Level.

Suppleness, balance, agility need to be practised as children in order to reach full genetic potential as an adult.

Imbalances and Weaknesses
Before beginning to work on strengthening core muscles in the rider it is important to first identify and then correct any imbalances and weaknesses.

With riders the hip and pelvis needs to be the primary focus as this is in contact with the saddle and controls the seat. With runners the primary focus would be the feet as they are the contact point within their sport.

Most riders have some form of weakness or imbalances for which the body will compensate.
Generally this involves either holding muscles rigid or by allowing the body to become over loose. This can be seen as a hip collapsing, back becoming hollow or loose, one leg swinging to one side or a fixed knee, shoulder or arm. The result of compensation is often pain- in the back, neck or hip, or there may be an inability or reluctance to perform movements in accordance to the wishes of the coach.

Three main patterns of imbalances and weaknesses can be identified in riders’ pelvic and hip region.

  1. The rider becomes tight on one side (internal rotation of the hip is reduced) and weak on the opposite side (lateral stabilising muscles of the hip ie gluteus medius, biceps femoris). This pattern is often seen with young riders.
  2. The rider is tight and weak on the same side. This tends to be a more complicated scenario; compensation patterns are harder to predict and this pattern is harder to identify. It tends to develop with more experienced riders as they try to hide their weakness and so tightness develops on the same side.
  3. The rider becomes weak on both sides. This results in an exaggerated range of movement. with little stability or control. This scenario tends to be seen in young long gangly females and most often results in lower back or pain in the thoracolumbar region. These riders will often ride with a head nod!

 

Stability

The development of the key core muscles around the trunk is the most important factor in rider stability. This provides effective distribution of force and pelvic control during movement and allows independent limb control.

It is easy to understand why cross country riding requires good core strength, but it is also essential for dressage riders. Emma Hindle and Laura Bechtolshiemer have the best core strength out of all the riders Andy works with.

There were two event and two dressage riders at the Horses Inside Out Conference their ages spanning 4 decades.

To begin with Andy assessed the riders, unmounted, for imbalances and weaknesses releasing any tension with soft tissue release work. He then looked at them on their horses so he could demonstrate how their imbalances, weaknesses, pelvic mobility and core strength affected their riding.

 

A Ridden Test for Weakness of the Muscles that control the Hip Joint
A good test to identify hip weakness is to ride  without stirrups lifting the legs alternately away from the saddleand  noting whether the rider leans excessively as each leg is lifted to the side

A Test of Core Stability
Noting the degree to which riders grip the knee rolls, or wobble as they ride transitions is a simple but effective test of a weak core.

Pelvic Mobility
With all the riders Andy focussed on the ability of the rider to move the pelvis in synchronously  with the horse’s movement. It was interesting to see that most of the riders were compensating and using other areas of their body to absorb the horse’s movement. For example – hyper mobility of the thoracic spine, a head nod or appearing to fix the shoulders and arms.

Good pelvic mobility allows an independent seat and independent use of other body parts. To improve pelvic mobility Andy asked the riders to dismount then sit on a swiss ball, or on the Eckhard Meyners stool to encourage them to move their pelvis’ through their full range of movement. This helped to activate the appropriate muscles and  proprioceptors and to stimulate the nerves. This simple but effective technique really did make a difference to all of the riders and it was suggested that we should all try doing this before riding as part of our warm up routine – we all could do with keeping a swiss ball in our lorries!!

The range techniques and tests Andy showed for addressing rider imbalances and weakness, pelvic mobility and core strength were very useful not only for therapists also something that all coaches can perform with their riders.

All in all this was a most successful, informative and interesting conference with very positive feedback and requests for something similar in the future.

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Gerd Heuschmann

 

 

 

Gillian and Gerd

 

 

Gemma

 

 

 

Friday

 

 

 

Gerd Heuschmann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Audience with Gerd Heuschmann

Saturday 11th September at Vale View Equestrian Centre.

Following the success of the Horses Inside Out Conference at the Unicorn Trust in 2009 and by popular request, Horses Inside Out managed to persuade Dr Gerd Heuschmann to present a follow up Seminar for us, this time in Leicestershire.

It was a fascinating day, with theory in the morning and 4 beautiful ridden and 1 lunged horse in the afternoon.

The importance of Biomechanics.
Although this subject can be learnt from books, to put it into practise we need to understand the psychological and behavioural aspects of horses - in short we need to think like a horse. We also need to be excellent horsemen with a sensitive seat. The stiller you sit the more you feel. If you are feeling annoyed or upset, concentration is lost and you cannot have a good seat. Emotions therefore must be under control! Horses are pack animals who in the pecking order respect their leader. As the rider you must be a benevolent despot, happy, relaxed, friendly, kind, forgiving and positive. To attain these qualities requires a strong confident character. Without these qualities insecurities will translate to tension. This is why they say riding is so character building!

 

Physiology of Musculature.
Increased use or a change in the way muscles are used leads microtrauma with the release of lactic acid within the tissues. If we throw 100 hay bales into a barn, our muscles will be sore the next day. This helps to explain why our horses, particularly when they are young, will work well one day but less freely the next. We, as trainers, need to respect this. Each training session stimulates remodelling of muscle fibre which can sometimes be painful. If we do not recognise this it can result in physical and mental damage.

The Spine.
The spine is a bridge construction which suspends the abdomen –approximately one third of a horse’s weight and supports the weight of the rider.

The most important structures involved in supporting the back are the neck and associated ligaments. The anatomy and biomechanics of this are clearly explained by Gillian Higgins in her demonstrations, Book and DVD.

The two circular systems that together can help to raise the back are, keeping the head and neck forwards and down and engagement of the hind end.

Initially, we can affect the head and neck more easily than the hind end. During his first year as a riding horse he needs to learn a new balance with the head and neck forward and free.  Only when a good contact has been established and he has accepted the rider do we start to affect the head and neck. As the horse progresses,  the importance of the hind end and the seat increases and can be influenced more and the significance of the positioning of the head and neck reduces.

The Longissimus Dorsi, the Long Back Muscle is the main movement muscle of the back. If these are braced to carry the rider, the back will stiffen and they can no longer contribute efficiently to movement. This will affect the gait.

The more advanced horses become in their work the more positive tension is necessary in the long back muscle. This is different from being braced. When braced, the horse becomes a leg mover rather than a back mover. Movements become over-exaggerated and it is hard to sit to the trot. The only thing to do when this happens is to go back a step, relax the back and then reconnect.

Symptoms of tension in the muscles of the back:-

  1. Lateral walk (walk is the first thing to reflect tension in the back)
  2. Loss of rhythm in trot and canter
  3. Loss of rhythm in higher collection movements (half pass, piaffe & passage)
  4. Bridle lameness. This is something not really recognised or taught within vet schools.
  5. Loss of shoulder movement as the humerus bone is held back by the Latissimus Dorsi which connects into the back fascia.
  6. Stifle held back in a more extended position by back the hamstrings which connect in to the back fascia.
  7. Parallel association of the fore radius and hind cannon bone is broken.

In a horse with a relaxed back – positive tension - cadence comes from the flexion in the haunches created during the stance phase – the joints flex, the body goes down then ‘springs’ up and in trot. There is also 100% parallel association between hind cannon and fore radius in the swing phase.

In horses with a ‘braced’ back, the “cadence” develops out of a braced back comes from a pause in mid air. When the back becomes braced the hind leg cannot step well under the body as it is held back by tight hamstring muscles, which pull the stifle backwards. There is reduced flexion in the hip, stifle and hock and the lack of ‘sink and spring’ in the stance phase is compensated for by greater extension in the fetlock. This increases the strain in the suspensory ligaments which may be a cause for hind limb suspensory desmitis.

In the afternoon Gerd worked with four very different horse.

  • Friday, a 22 year old very supple welsh cob x tb ridden by Isobel Prestiwch
  • Krack-de Niro a rising 6 Danish warmblood beautiful big moving dressage horse ridden by Gemma Cheney. 
  • Fortune’s Way, a 15 yr old 17hh gelding working towards PSG and ridden by Nikki Herbert.
  • Masterpiece, a 10 year old 16.2hh gelding ridden by Rob Lovatt – a horse with such presence and muscle that Gerd mistook him for a Stallion!

Gerd used 3 simple exercises to try and make a difference with these horses:-

1. Lateral Work in a Slow walk

  1. Helps to bring the back up.
  2. Encourages the horse to drop onto the bit – with no contact.
  3. Encourages chewing.

The walk must be slow out of a soft seat with no force. The more existing tension, the slower the walk.

In a young horse this lateral work should be a simple leg yield; in the more advanced horse, shoulder in and travers can be used.

Q.     What is the difference between the Shoulder in and the leg yield lessons for the horse?

A.     Shoulder in is a collecting lesson achieved only when the back is soft allowing flexion develop in the   haunches. Leg yield should be used in a younger or weaker horse.

Q.      How early would you start lateral work with a young horse?
A.     Old school of training  in the 2nd half of the first year or as soon as the horse is searching for a contact. 

2. Poll Movement – lateral flexion.

Poll muscles system comprise of those attached to the skull- atlas and axis. They are short and strong. An inability to release the outside results in stiffness and an inability to bend to the inside. In order to get the flexion at the poll the horse must chew. If you have a tight noseband he is unable to chew and softness in the poll required for bending / flexion - which is required to train the inside hind leg is unattainable.

Gerd demonstrated the tower rein ( holding the reins upside down so they come in between your thumb and first finger and out underneath your little finger) This is an old techniques that prevents you pulling down and back. Also has been shown if you want your horse to be round – raise your hand, wait a moment and he will come round.

A high hand rounds the poll a deep hand stretches the neck.
As the horse takes the rein the back under you starts to relax. This can be felt. Gerd believes that the tower rein is something all riders should try. Once the chewing mouth and soft poll are achieved the bit /elbow line – position can be employed. With no resistance the elbow – wrist – bit line should not be broken. If you do have resistance – do not pull back – just break the line with your inside hand – Raise your hand. Gerd usually recommends breaking the line with the inside rein because the outside rein is the leading rein, it needs to be consistent and still. Whereas the inside rein helps control the flexion and the chewing, it helps to stimulate suppleness.

3.   Rhythm

This is the first thing to look for in trot. FEI’s definition of rhythm is that one stride is exactly like another. However Gerd thinks that speed is a very important thing.  The Rhythm in Gerd’s eyes is a speed in which you and your horse are comfortable – it sows the seed of harmony and enables you both to relax. This ‘comfort zone enables you to find a softer seat where, with a soft back you can achieve both true suspension and true collection.  

Q         What about the lazy horse? If you let lazy horses go in their own comfort zone / own rhythm, they would never work !

A      In Gerds opinion, horses either rush or are unwilling to move forwards and appear lazy. Either can be the result of a stiff back and both are evasions. If you can remove the cause the symptoms will disappear.

Summary

The day gave everyone food for thought! It is always interesting but not easy to put theory  into practice and, having explained his ideas this is exactly what Gerd attempted to do. Also not easy in front of a large critical audience! The principals of the exercises demonstrated in the afternoon were simple and I think many of us will be thinking about, and trying some of Gerd’s techniques over the next few weeks. A huge thank you must go to Gerd, the horses and riders, and to Vale View for hosting such a large number of guests.

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Diary 2010 January – March

It was a quiet month for Horses Inside Out in January – a useful time for reflection and recharging of batteries! Freddie came back into work slowly and having given a talk to the World Class Squad , we started having lessons with Richard Davison.- Absolutely brilliant! A module for the Equine Science students at the Royal Agricultural College was followed by an evening talk by Master Farrier Andrew Poynton. One of Andrews specialisms is laminitis and his talk was illustrated with photographs of his amazing hoof reconstructions as well as many pointers for coping with the disease.

Our conference was a great success and well attended by 150 or so delegates.

Our dissection day courses for therapists, vet students, interested riders and trainers have been particularly well attended this year. Andrew Hemmings is a fount of information and approaches his subject sensitively assuring everyone that the horses we use have had to be put down for a very sound reason. It is a useful way of appreciating exactly what there is under the skin.

Our first Painted horse demonstration of the year was held at Ledston Equine Clinic and was arranged by Chris McGrann. Chris is a British Sports Horse judge, a Riding Club Master Judge, British Eventing Accredited Trainer and a Pony Club ‘A’ Test examiner. He is full of enthusiasm and his talk was  attended by close on 200 people and, as Chris was managing everything, including the jumps, it ran like clockwork.

Gillian went down to Cornwall to give a talk for the BHS instructors. This was a video based talk using unused clips from the DVD .These are really effective as you can see the movement in much more detail when it is in slow motion. We had lots of really positive e mails. Here is just one.

‘I was at Duchy college with my colleague when you did the BHS instructors day. I have to say, I don't think I have ever sat so willingly for so long before. Your lecture was amazing and very informative.’

The next event was a day put on by the students of Sparsholt College as part of their course. The students were responsible for every part of the demonstration from the planning to refreshments and providing an arena party. Gillian gave the actual demonstration and it was a great success with numbers reaching 250 plus. The students had invited the press and as a result Horses Inside Out was featured in The times Educational Supplement. The extract below is just one from many appreciative e mails.

 

‘Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed your demo today.  It was incredibly informative and in-depth, but in easy to understand chunks.  Our group included a Physiotherapist and a Jumping Instructor, plus me, just an every day rider trying to improve!  Despite all our different interests and levels of experience, we all found the day so useful and inspiring, so thank you.’

The Country Land and Business Association gives advice to small business. This year they teamed up with Ride Welland for an educational day course in Leicestershire. The attendees all running small equestrian businesses  were given talks by lawyers and accountants in the morning and by Horses Inside Out in the afternoon. It was extremely well received.

Barton End Stables was the first place this year to host a Ponies Inside Out day for their pony club members. This is a really popular annual event at Barton End and was thoroughly enjoyed by a really enthusiastic group of young people. It’s always a real pleasure to go to Barton End!

A day course at the Horses Inside out Therapy Centre at Field Farm Wymeswold – Massage for Horse Owners was blessed by warmth and sunshine. 15 keen people gathered to learn more about keeping the horse’s musculature soft and supple – one of the main aims of horses Inside Out.

Gillian is a keen member of the Event Horse Association (EHOA) and on the 20th and 21st April attended a superb course with Kenneth Clawson, Tracie Robinson and JP Sheffield. Both Freddie and I gained a lot from it and I gave the evening talk to the attendees. This was followed by an excellent dinner served in Kenneth’s summerhouse. A good time was had by all.

Diary April – June

April turned out to be a busy month with four really big demonstrations; all very different but all attracting good sized audiences.

The month started with a Paint a Pony Day at Barton End Stables in Gloucestershire. I actually do quite a few days at Barton End and really enjoy them. The children there don’t own ponies but are so full of enthusiasm and energy it is a treat to look forward to.

One of the new developments for Horses inside Out is inside lectures using unseen footage from our DVD. These lectures lend themselves to evening talks, AGM’s and pre or post dinner talks. The Event horse Owners Association took advantage of the talk ‘Jumping from an Anatomical Perspective’ at their camp at Kenneth Clawson’s yard in Liere.

Next stop South Wales at the Dinefwr Riding Centre. Pebbles- our equine canvas was quite the sweetest most obliging horse we have ever had the pleasure of painting. A Horse Owners day course followed the next day. The weather was glorious and the midges abounded! We were sent a beautiful appreciative card from the Jenner family who arranged the demonstration, from Pebbles- who now has a fan club and from all the well stretched extremely mobile horses whose owners attended the demo.

Larkhill Barracks is a wild and windy place. Having been duly signed in and had our identity checked, we made our way to the equine unit to meet with some of the officers and horses. This demonstration was quite an experience albeit a very pleasant one! Soldiers obviously unused to wielding brooms had been drafted in to ‘tidy up’ ready for the evening. We painted a lovely grey showjumper who had just returned from competition in Jersey. The audience were a mixture of saddle club members and local riders who were taking advantage of seeing us there and learning more about their horses.

In the middle of May, we set off to Powys. Just to throw in a complete red herring, when we were nearly to LLandidrog Wells we stopped for a coffee at a very small café.  As we sat in the garden beside a fast flowing stream we watched first a pair of jays then a dipper turning over stones – magic! On to our venue where we met our model: a lovely  Parelli trained horse who led trail rides for ‘Your Horse Adventures’ Your Horse Adventures is run by Medina Brock. She has a beautiful Bed and Breakfast at her small farm near Knighton. The riding is all off road and the countryside beautiful. The demonstration went really well and was well attended. We really are lucky to meet so many wonderful people and to see so many fascinating places.

After Powys we did two demonstrations in the North West. The first was for the World Horse Welfare. What a wonderful place! It is beautifully kept and all the rescue horses and ponies are so well catered for. Some of the histories are really sad and one wonders who can treat the ponies so inhumanely. We were allocated a beautiful light dun pony called       .   It was a lovely evening and again the demonstration proved popular.

The next day we were off Northop Agricultural College. There we met our two beautifully turned out white horses. One was to be lunged and the other ridden. Both performed their roles perfectly. The college boasted a very large well maintained school. The members of the Flint and Denbigh Riding Club were all appreciative and enthusiastic. It was a really fun and informative evening with a good turnout despite the fact the club had another function on at the same time.

Each year, Horses Inside Out organises a ‘flagship’ lecture. This year we chose Solihull Riding Club as we have had so many requests from its members to give a demonstration in their area. Everyone went out of their way to be helpful and on the evening we had an audience of around 200. This demonstration was an anatomical guide to movement. Freddie went well on the lunge showing both his flatwork and jumping skills. One of the riding club members provided the ridden part of the demonstration. The evening was supported by several presentation stands and was a great success.

At the end of June, we set off down to the West Country. Our first stop was Nutwell Saddlery and Equine practise. Nutwell has an amazing indoor school built in the style of the Classical Spanish Riding School. Our model her was Mary King’s ex event horse King Solomon. He was a real gentleman, stood and moved beautifully. Paula Lee, now competes him in Dressage competitions and at 22 years of age is doing really well at his second career.

The following day after a brief walk on the beach at Lyme Regis we gave a demonstration in another beautiful indoor school, this time at Kingston Maurward College. There we net Cola Fox and her wonderful 15.2 horse star. Star really was immaculately turned out. This demonstration was a first for us as Star was both ridden and lunged. This was another well attended demonstration with numbers approaching 200.  

 

2009 Diary

January - March

The start of 2009 has been an extremely busy one for everyone at Horses Inside Out. The Winter Lecture Series held at the Royal Agricultural college has been a great success.

In January Jennie Killilea, A World Class Sports Psychologist gave a fascinating and immensely useful talk on, A Psychological Approach for Riders. With plenty of practical tips and advice for helping us to get and stay in the right frame of mind for day to day and competition riding we all left enthused to do more about our mental attitude. After all the power of the mind is an amazing thing!

February saw the beginning of our series of day course dissections, again held at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester and led by Andrew Hemmings with Gillian Higgins. Andrew is a senior lecturer and experienced neuroanatomist at the Royal Agricultural College. At the first dissection course, the brain Andrew demonstrated the techniques required for successful brain removal and subsequent dissection. Amongst other things, he led us through an investigation of brain mechanisms that become active during massage and acupressure; the neural pathways that may be influenced during aromatherapy, and even how brain regions can malfunction to give repetitive stereotypic behaviours such as crib-biting and weaving. Andrew is passionate about his work and his enthusiasm for his subject was infectious.

Dissections of the Forelimb and the end of February and the Hindlimb in March were also fascinating. During the forelimb dissection Andrew led us through the evolutionary anatomical changes of horses that explained why the horse’s forelimb is how it is today. After a detailed look at the muscular, tendinous and ligamentary structures, we examined the effects of OCD in the shoulder and elbow joints and the effects of laminitis. Andrew also prepared a number of slides so we were able to look at the difference hoof structures under microscope.

The Hindlimb Dissection gave a fantastic opportunity to really understand the musculature of the and hindquarters and particularly the deep muscles of the pelvis. We marvelled at the strength of the Sacroiliac ligaments and joints, and the beauty of the Stifle joint. Another amazing day was had by all who attended it. We are now currently looking to organise more day dissection courses with Andrew Hemmings and other specialists, as well as a whole horse dissection course.

At the end of March Caroline Moore a fellow of the British Horse Society and Pony Selector for British Eventing gave a captivating presentation BE Prepared. Giving lots of practical tips to help us BE Prepared for the eventing season, Caroline made us appreciate that mental preparation of the horse is just as important as rider preparation.

The end of March brings with it the beginning of Gillian Higgins’ Horses Inside Out Lecture Demonstration season. During the winter months it is too cold to paint horses and a little cold for audiences sitting in an indoor school. So as the weather has turned for the better it is now possible to start painting horses again! The 2009 season started with a demonstration at Stainsby Grange, Co Durham, organised by the BHS North West Group. All who attended thoroughly enjoyed the evening and felt they would be looking at their horses from another perspective in future.

Feedback from Gillian’s lecture demonstration at Barleyfields Equestrian Centre on the 22nd March has been fantastic. Gillian’s enthusiasm for her subject was infectious. Jo, the pony used at this demo provided a certain amount of extra entertainment as he played up for the audience!

The last lecture in this season’s winter series was by Andy Thomas World Class Physiotherapist. Andy was an extremely popular speaker and did not disappoint. He really helped us all to understand what is demanded of our bodies by riding, and how core stability, suppleness and flexibility can really help us to improve our riding performance.

Due to the success of this year’s winter series we are planning on running another series next winter, both in Cirencester at the Royal Agricultural College and in Leicestershire probably at Vale View Equestrian Centre.

The end of March also saw the publication of Gillian’s book How Your Horse Moves with the 28th March as the official publication date. Gillian spent the day at the Stroud Saddlery to celebrate the launch. The book will now be available at all Horses Inside Out lecture demonstrations and events as well as by mail order from the Horses Inside Out website.

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Joint RLF

Freddie Fox appeared in Horse and Hound Magazine in advert for Blue Chip Joint supplement.

Dr. Gerd Heuschmann, vet, dressage rider, trainer and author of 'Tug of War' Classical versus Modern, and Dr. Svend Kold, specialist in Equine Orthopaedic Surgery at Willesley Equine Clinic addressed the questions 'Why the horse's conformation decides his training; How to approach the minimally lame, multilimb lame horse; Bridle lameness - how incorrect training can mimic lameness, and, the restricting effect of back pain for full performance;
The topics, each of which are relevant to all equestrian discipline were examined from the differing perspectives of control through training without the use of restrictive practices and training aids and, how lameness and back pain can be diagnosed and treated using drugs or surgical intervention.

Gerd riding Cadbury

On the second day Dr Heuschmann, using a variety of horses and riders competing in a variety of disciplines from novice to advanced levels, held the audience spell bound as he demonstrated improvements in back movement by using the forward and down head and neck position and suppling exercises to create flexion at the poll and lateral movements. A particularly dramatic improvement was seen in a dressage pony with a particularly fixed back, presented by Dr Kold and ridden by a 13 year old girl. It was concluded that many horses display poor performance as a result of stiffness in the back. Reassuringly, Dr Heuschmann not only provided a theoretical solution to the problem but also convincingly demonstrated how to improve performance.

Facilities and catering arrangements (wonderful home made soup!) were excellent.

Both Gerd and Svend are very keen to repeat the experience. It is just a case of finding dates and a venue. Watch this space!

Gerd and Gillian

Trade stands

Svend Kold and Chloe Hunter

Ellen Bercher -nolan on Welfenprinz

Tuesday 7th April 2009

Today I spent a fabulous afternoon at the Unicorn Trust with the Young Carriage Drivers Group and Under 21 Dressage Group doing a Ponies Inside Out lecture demonstration. We spent the afternoon painting up 8 ponies with some fabulous results! The children had a fabulous time learning all about the bones of their ponies. At the end we took them all down into the large indoor arena where they were duly paraded round for all to admire.

Then using the pony that I had painted up he was put in a carriage and trotted around the arena. Now it was my turn to learn all about the harness they use and the principles of driving. I was then able to talk all about the biomechanics behind the ponies’ movement, where the movement comes from how the pony pulls a carriage – or pushes it!! And also give some insight into why the harness should be fitted in certain ways.

Young Carriage Drivers

It was a fabulous sight seeing the black pony painted with his skeleton pulling a carriage and I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and learnt so much. It reminded me that understanding anatomy, biomechanics and movement is so useful whatever the discipline.

11th April 2009.

Almost Totally Western Horses Inside Out goes west! I have spent the last couple of days at Horse Creek Farm Ranch, learning all about Western riding and Sovereign Quarter Horses. It has been fascinating and I have learnt so much. It has been interesting to look at these horses and see how they move, how they are trained and think about it all from an anatomical an biomechanics perspective. Yesterday, David Deptford put up with my 101 questions about what to look for in Western riding and determining the ideal way of going. There are many similarities to "English Riding" yet many differences.
I was lucky enough to have a feel of some of the movements. And they certainly rode differently to how I expected! In my opinion, one of the main differences of our sport horses compared to the sovereign quarter horse is the extravagance of movement and moment of suspension, both in the trot and canter. I was surprised by the feel and amount of back movement that these horses gave. These horses are so manoeuvrable! Shoulder in, half pass, pirouettes and all from the touch of leg and rein on the neck! For such a laid back horse they were so reactive! The speed of the spins also really amazed me but for someone that suffers easily from car sickness I was glad we only did half speed! For the Soverign Quarter Horse Open day, "Almost Totally Western" we painted up David's best stallion, Jay who shows near enough perfect conformation for a western horse and represented Great Britain in Dubai 2005. He acted as a perfect model. Western horses have such laid back temperaments he was very good to paint! In my lecture demonstrations I sometimes mention western riding particularly the sliding halt as an example of extreme movement of the lumbar-sacral junction. To see this movement with the bones painted on, particularly the hind legs and spine really emphasized the flexion through the lumbar-sacral junction, hip and spine. The bracing of the hind quarter muscles and the use of isometric and eccentric muscle contration was fabulous. It was also particularly interesting to watch the painted western horse spinning, engage and during rein back. The flexion of the spine and use of the flexor chain of muscles to help lift the back was impressive. The western horse is also a really good example of use of the nuchal and supraspinous ligament system to help support correct posture of the back. I came away from "the west" having learnt so much and with many new ideas. Again it made me appreciate that an understanding of anatomy and biomechanics is so useful to improving training and performance and whatever the discipline the principles are the same this information is so transferable!

David Depford riding Jays Smokin Story

May 2009

After Inverness, I got down to some serious training with Freddie and Henry ready for a rather belated start to the eventing season. I spent a really interesting couple of days at Belton writing for Sue Carson for the Grantham Cup. I am very keen to really understand exactly how and why the judges award their marks and if indeed they look at the horses from an anatomical perspective.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Badminton, A great but busy four days with plenty of book signings.  Over the four days I painted up a full sized model horse for the Society of Master Saddlers. This caused much amusement in the crowd. Also on the Thursday I had my first radio interview on Radio Badminton. From this I learnt the advantage of giving the DJ a list of questions in advance so what he asked would be relevant to what I do. I had the same problem a week later on Radio Nottingham. He was determined to ask me, completely irrelevantly, about riding on the road and I was equally determined to discuss how beneficial it is to understand anatomy and to inform the listeners of my demonstration at Vale View. I can understand now why politicians never seem to answer the question!
Advice from readers to deal with interviewers appreciated!
Since Badminton which feels like months ago to me I have been to Rodbaston College in Staffordshire for a demo as well as  Vale View Equestrian Centre in Leicestershire. This was a great demo for me, as I have just moved back to the Notts/Leics borders. it was lovely to see so many familiar faces and to meet new people in my area.

The biggest project in my life at the moment is making the Horses Inside Out DVD. I started to write the script during Badminton 3 weeks before we were due to do the bulk of the filming. This was a momentous task, one for which (in true Gillian Higgins style) I had underestimated the amount of time required! However I managed it and also before the main filming days we managed to get up to Sovereign Quater Horses again to paint up a Western Horse to take some short clips for the DVD. I also devised some new painting designs to which Freddie and Henry were subjected, not only once as a practice, but again for the real filming! They are officially professional models now; having been painted up with different anatomical designs on the side I think about 7 times between Badminton and the end of May, and that is excluding the filming days at the end of May.

My father, David and I travelled down to the Unicorn Trust at Stow on the Wold on the Tuesday afternoon after Shelford Manor One Day Event, where Henry had competed at Intro level the day before. We had an afternoon to spruce up Freddie and Henry and to prepare the venue ready to start filming at 8am the next morning. I decided to bath and plait the day before and to hood and bandage over night to try and keep the boys as white as possible! I even used a trick I learnt from Sarah Deptford at Sovereign Quarter Horses - Corn flour under their bandages! All the preparation the day before paid off.  We got up at 5am so we could be ready for 8am. My Mother Shirley and a friend Anna Gosney were also there to help. However from this point onwards it all went downhill a little. I was too ambitious with what I was trying to achieve in not enough time. We painted Henry up ready for his first shoot, however as soon as He left the stables to do his camera work, Freddie started creating! This is the problem with owning two horses. Mine seem to have the notion that whenever they go somewhere together in the horse box, they should stay together. Realising painting during separation was not an option a change in tactic was required! In the afternoon we managed to film pretty much all of the movement and slow motion footage with my two horses, which was great but much less that I had hoped to achieve by the end of Day 1. Day 2 we were refreshed and resolved. Up by 4am we had both horses painted up ready to go by 7.30 am! Phew! This was a great start. We actually felt organised! I could not have done this without the help of Shirley, who took over as director, making sure everyone had something to do in order to get as much done as possible. Sam Rahmatalla a dressage rider from Chippenham brought her Grand Prix horse WGS Matcho to demonstrate advanced moves to be painted up and ridden with all the fancy moves. Which will add greatly to the DVD. Day 2 of filming was much more successful. We covered a considerable amount of footage. However we called 'it a wrap' as they say in the film business, at about 6pm in the evening with still another days worth of filming to go! We will now have to budget for a third day sometime soon - whoops ummer! The most frustrating thing of all though, was at the end of Day 2 he producer told us he knew we had been too ambitious. Why hadn’t he said!!

After Shelford, which was a super event for young and inexperienced horses we wended our way to the Unicorn Trust to make the first Horses Inside Out. DVD. This was a very steep learning curve but should result in a fantasic DVD. Looking at Training from an anatomical perspective with a difference! Watch this space.

A Weekend with Mary Wanless

After one day's rest, well for Freddie and Henry at least! we had to sort the kit from DVD filming and repack the lorry for a trip down to Brighton. It really is amazing how much kit is required to do these things! We left the yard in Wymeswold, Leics at 7.30am and headed for Brighton. You must understand at this point that "we" comprises of Shirley, my mum and the organiser of all things Horses Inside Out, Freddie my best horse and Geoffrey! Geoffrey is a navy ford cargo lorry, the same age as me. The trip down to Brighton was as always a little slow. It actually took 7 hours as we hit traffic on the M25. After this experience and the journey home we have now sworn that we will not travel a horse to a demonstration further than 4 hours travel time away. We arrived at Plumpton College at about 2pm on Saturday afternoon. Thankfully it was lovely weather and gorgeous countryside surrounding. Freddie was pleased to get into a stable full of shavings for a good roll.

I was doing a demonstration with Mary Wanless on Sunday, with me lecturing in the morning and riding in the afternoon. I had painted up a body suit with the human skeleton on the outside so we were able to examine the rider as well as the horse from the inside out!! It was a thoroughly fascinating day. I really enjoyed it. Not only as my newly painted suit went down a dream, but also because I learnt so much. I realised that there are many similarities between the work that I do and that of rider biomechanics with Mary Wanless. It is transferrable knowledge between horse and rider and all seems to come back to correct posture improving performance and reducing the risk of injury.  I am also hoping that we got some more potential video footage for the DVD. Unfortunately no photo's yet as we were busy filming but I hope to get some from Dido (mary's organiser) so will post them as soon as they come in!

It just so happened that Kelly Marks was performing a demonstration the evening before, so it was very interesting to have some time to watch her and marvel at Monty's join up technique. Kelly demonstrated with a horse that was difficult to clip which I could really relate to as Henry hates the clippers!!

 

Rockin’ Horses

I have decided I am one of the luckiest people around because I truely enjoy my job. I fall out of bed each morning excited by the prospect each day brings. And how many people can say that? Now admittedly I'm self employed so it's more of a lifestyle that a job but I really wouldn't have it any other way.  On Tuesday this week I travelled to Boston in Lincolnshire with my mum, Shirley and my dad, David (There's another two reason's why I'm lucky. I have two of the most supportive parents around, without whom I could not achieve half of what I attempt at the moment!). We went to visit Guido and Sofia Louis from Rocking Horse Productions an Equestrian Stunt Team. I first met Guido at Your Horse Live last year where we were both performing daily and stabling our horses and sleeping in our lorries in the same wet carpark! When doing lecture demonstrations at the large shows it is amazing how many fascinating people you meet and stay in contact with. I guess because we all have something in common it is like a mini community, behind the scenes!

I contacted Guido again about a month ago to ask if I could paint up one of his horses, then take some video footage and photos some of which will be included in the DVD. Well what a day it turned out to be! Of course the glorious sunshine helped enormously, but Guido and Sofia and their parents made us so welcome. It was such a laid back and friendly atmosphere at their yard and even the horses seemed to have a happy, relaxed and fun air about them. after painting up the first horse, Cyrano an 18yo Grey Andalusian Gelding, Sofia who does the majority of the in hand training asked him to perform the spanish walk and some bows. The second horse Rohirrim, a Bay Welsh Cob with a brave and cheeky character performed some rears which were very impressive before the 'piece de la resistance'  Guido mounted Rohirrim and Xiado to do some roman riding! (see picture!)One thing that really struck me with all the stunts performed that day, was the level of horsemanship required, the relationship between horse and handler and the trust! Also as Guido himself points outs really to be a good stunt jockey it is not all about being brave, agile and talented but also understanding the horse and riding. In order to perform the best stunts an understanding of how horse's work their movement and biomechanics is invaluable. Especially when sliding round under their belly between their front and hind legs the back to the saddle again....when the horse is in full gallop!!

Having met the ‘Rockin’ Horse Equestrian Stunt Team at Your Horse Live last year, it seemed a good idea to use horses used to performing on command to get some unusual shots and capture specific movements on well trained beautiful horses in order to demonstrate in a different way how important it is to understand correct movement.. Guido and Sophia made us really welcome at their lovely base in Lincolnshire and we had a wonderful day.

Following a BD demonstration in Shropshire and a day conference for the British Equine Dental Association looking at how discomfort in the jaw can affect way of going, we headed south again to Quob Stables in Hampshire. Rose Seagrave a Dressage Judge from near Southampton had seen us at the Dressage Judges 2 day convention at Hartpury  College last year and wanted to put on a demonstration in her area. She arranged a fantastic Saturday Evening attended by about 200 riders. Run as a charity event, Rose donated over £2000 to the Air Ambulance. Riders are the second biggest call out after Road Traffic Accidents and as the Air Ambulance operates entirely through donation, this was definitely a phenomenal effort.
 
The next day we did our first Paint a Pony Birthday party for a young lady near Salisbury. This was a great success and something we are happy to do more of.  Ponies Inside Out is proving very popular over the summer with lots of pony clubs making use of such a fun and educational activity for both camp and day rallies.
 
On a more personal note, I have had some jumping lessons with Lionel Dunning, who has now returned from his spell in the Far East. He is a wonderful Instructor, fantastic confidence giver and great personality.. Highly recommend!. Ring or e mail Horses Inside Out for more info.

June – November 2009

Following Rose’s extremely successful demonstration we gave our first Ponies Inside Out Paint a Pony birthday party for a delightful young lady in Hampshire. This party was great fun and ideal for ‘horsey-mad children.’  

During the summer months both Henry and Freddie were eventing and a though we didn’t go as far as to run at an event in full colour, we have often appeared in various hues! This certainly turns heads with anyone who has not heard of Horses Inside Out!

July and August are definitely Ponies Inside Out months with dozens of children and young people learning about the anatomy of their ponies. Great fun, especially the washing off!

In August Freddie took part in a show jump training demonstration with Lionel Dunning, show jumper extraordinaire, having jumped the puissance wall at a massive 2.25metres. Lionel has now returned from exploits abroad, has now settled back in this country and is available to give lessons. He is a great character, a fount of knowledge and an excellent. perceptive  teacher.

Horses Inside Out has been very fortunate to have on loan this summer, some anatomical slices from Dr Gunther von Hagens’ Body World’s exhibition currently on a world tour following an exhibition in the Tate Modern in London. We believe we are the only people to have these in this country. They are absolutely fascinating and have provided many a talking point at our demonstrations.

In September we were asked to put on a training day at Myerscough College for the trainers to the mounted division of the police force. The officers were full of humour and eager to learn more for the good of their horses. This was a really fun day and, as you would expect, our model George was extremely well mannered. He was also quite the largest horse we have ever painted. Police picture

On 12th and 13th Horses, the first Massage for Horse Owners Course took place at our new Therapy Centre at Field Farm Cross Country Course, Leicestershire. www.fielddfarmcrosscountry.co.uk .

Day courses for livery yards and Equestrian Centres are becoming increasingly popular. We have given several looking at Massage for horse Owners, Pilates and Stretching for Horses and for those with a passion for anatomy, Anatomy and Biomechanics. Our second book Pilates and Stretching – an exercise index for Horse owners was published at the beginning of September. We have also given a variation on Ponies Inside Out- Paint a Pony for adults. This is an excellent way to learn and is useful for students, clubs and universities.

The next demonstration was in Sheffield. Quite a few of the bones we use at our demonstrations are from a very small 11 hand pony. Gillian always alludes to this and asks everyone to imagine the muscle bulk covering the hindquarters and compare it with the bulk on a larger horse. On this occasion we had the use of a tiny Shetland called Jasmine who certainly helped bring the bones to life!

The trip to Cornwall heralded a new era for Horses Inside Out. Gillian was filmed by the BBC for their local News Programme Points West. An appearance on East Midlands today a couple of days later precipitated an interest by the National Press and Horses Inside Out as featured in the Times, Telegraph, Guardian and Daily Mail. Without warning, a photographer turned up at our demonstration the next day at Berkshire College; his Photos were sent around the world and has really helped put Horses Inside Out on the map. This resulted in thousands of hits on our website which was unable to take the strain! 
A day later we were due to set off on a ten day tour to Aintree, the Isle of Man and Ireland. The Demo at Aintree was another great success and attended amongst others by a large group of Veterinary Students. Gillian and Shirley then made the night crossing to Douglas and David returned to base to sort out the website and open our on line shop.
We were made so welcome on the Isle of Man and as well as an evening demonstration and exam seminar, Gillian hosted a Ponies Inside Out session This was a real pleasure – the children were so keen, well mannered, smart and appreciative. Although said before, we would like to repeat what fantastic people we meet through horses inside Out!
After a few days R and R – thanks Sue for the beautiful cottage- we returned to the mainland, drove straight to Anglesea and set sail for Ireland. There, Susan Irwan –The BHS rep for Ireland arranged fantastic accommodation and a super demonstration with 2 horses, a lovely grey, fully painted and a talented bay show jumper. Having a rider on board made it possible to focus on different aspects of movement and is something Gillian would like to do more of in the future.

November is generally a quiet month – not so this year. Our winter series in Cirencester got off to a flying start in Cirencester with Mary King who told us all about her life and horses and in Nottingham with Yogi Breisner who talked about preparing for the pressures of a championship. Horses Inside Out- The DVD was released on 11th November in Nottingham and has rapidly ricoched  around the world. The new on line shop has been working overtime! The winter dissection programme got underway with an indepth study of the brain followed by the forelimb. A presence at Your horse Live was another success, rapidly followed by andemonstration for the British Riding Clubs Forum at Hartpury – only made possible once again by their solarium and wonderful heated arena.

The icing on the cake this year was without a doubt the invitation initiated by Richard Davison to give a talk to the World Class Show Jumping and Eventing Squad at Solihul. It was a real privilege and a pleasure to watch such excellent riders and beautiful horses. It is good to know the future of opur sport is in such good hands.

The final fixture of the year was an indoor talk at the Horses Inside Out base in Bunny. This was a very pleasant evening with coffee mince pies and an enthusiastic group. It really tested the concept of  Indoor lectures using material from filming the DVD. It was a good success and will hopfully pave the way for many more similar evenings in the future.

On a slightly different note, the more observant may have noticed Freddie was conspicuous by his absence at the beginning of the year. This was because he suffered quite a severe bout of strangles. He made a complete recovery after about 3 months, was given the ‘all clear’ moved to Nottingham and was enjoying being the centre of attention again by April. This is a terrible disease and the sooner more research is done the better. He has not really been on top form this year and with his breathing getting more laboured he finally had a laser tie back operation at Newmarket straight after the BRC Conference. He is now on box rest and is recovering well. Picture of Freddie looking over his stable door. An interesting fact to consider! . Several other horses at the same yard wh also had strangles have also had to have hobdays! A connection perhaps?.

November – March

The winter is a time for planning and preparation. The conference was a great success; the diary is full with local and nationwide demonstrations, courses and treatments. Horses Inside Out has been invited to Brazil, South Africa, Holland and the World Equestrian Games. We look forward to seeing you somewhere.

2008 Diary.

The Year began in January with an indoor lecture at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester. Yogi Breisner delivered a perceptive, amusing and anecdotal talk on ‘Coping with the Pressures of a Championship’. Whilst not professing to be a sports psychologist, Yogi drew on his vast experience and observations of human nature to explain how, when preparing for any actions, perfect planning and common sense are some of the most important ingredients.

Yogi Breisner

February 2008

Henry was introduced an audience for the first time at Hartpury for the winners of the EHOA. True to form, the temperature was sub zero, but like Freddie last year, was painted under the solarium so was oblivious to the cold!. The new lecture, 'Core Stability for the Horse,' went down very well and Henry was well behaved if a little alarmed at some hammering on the roof just after we got started!

Freddie was on parade for the British Eventing Officials Weekend Conference at Moreton Morrel. It was slightly warmer and following a quick canter through the basic anatomy he was able to demonstrate to a mixed audience of course builders, scorers and Technical Advisers, 'How the Horse Jumps'.

For the Horses Inside Out winter lecture series,Liz Brown, (Asst Team Vet), gave a perceptive and humorous talk at The Royal Agricultural College on, The Veterinary Care of the Performance Horse' and gave many useful tips regarding looking after the horse at an event.

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Hamstring Muscles Painted on a horse

 

 

Anatomically Painted Horse

 

 

Horses Inside Out at Badminton Horse Trials

 

 

 

Gills with sacroiliac joint

 

Gillian Higgins - Anatomy for Performance

March and April

March and April saw considerable activity within Horses Inside Out. Jennie Killilea gave an inspirational talk on sports psychology for riders at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester.

Hinckley dressage group enjoyed their talk. Henry made his second appearance at a demonstration in Dorset, and was much less alarmed by the audience! Lectures followed at Ipswich, Ely and the Blue Barn in Kent. All were well attended and well received.

Wow saddles came to Kent and were able to offer advice on saddles and saddle fitting. Attendees in Kent also took the advantage of the opportunity to have muscular assessments on their horses. This proved to be very popular and is something we hope to do more of in the future. Following popular demand Horses Inside Out is currently working on producing a book which will be available in Spring 2009 and DVD which hopefully will be available in the autumn.

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May and June

Horses Inside Out was invited to Bishop Burton College in May. This was our first visit and anatomy was brought to life for their students in a series of three lectures. The Musculoskeletal System, looking at How the Horse Moves and Pilates for Horses. It really is worth considering seeing a Horses Inside Out demonstration if you are doing exams. Not only does it make everything clearer but it has a real impact on training and riding programmes as well.

Following the success of their lecture demo last year Shuttleworth BHS held a Pilates for Horses evening which again was well attended. Henry was on parade and is now really getting into the swing of demonstrating his flexibility.

Horses Inside Out indoor winter series concluded with a Spring demonstration at West Wilts Equestrian Centre.

Midsummer Day saw us in Hay on Wye as guests of Karasel Saddlery. If you are ever in the region a visit to Karasel is a ‘must’ Ellie has a beautiful saddlery in lovely surroundings and you will be made most welcome.
This was our first outdoor demonstration and we had been praying for good weather. It poured! Ellie however had gone to enormous lengths to make the demo a success and people attended from as far afield as South Wales and the Midlands. We actually did the demonstration under a marquee. Freddie as usual was completely unfazed and took it all in his stride! The weather actually cleared enough for us to do a short demonstration out from under our shelter. Hay was characterised by a fantastically enthusiastic audience who were so full of questions that the demo was the longest we have ever done!

Having had a quiet start to the eventing season, both Henry and Freddie are in training for the late summer and early autumn events. They have both attended many photo shoots for magazines and our Horses Inside Out book which will be available in spring 2009. The DVD is still in the pipeline, but is certainly on its way.

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July to September

As for everyone else in the country several of our events and functions were cancelled this summer due to the heavy rain!
Ponies Inside Out though has been out and about with pony club children enjoying learning about the anatomy of their ponies by painting them then seeing them being lunged. Great fun!

We have done three demonstrations for Active Horse Camps at various venues around the country. These have been taster sessions and we have been very gratified that several people from the horse camps have also come to the lectures.

Lancashire Riding Club organised a very successful and well attended lecture at Osbaldeston Equestrian Centre. We ‘borrowed’ a horse and considering he was not used to an audience, it all went very well!

Horses Inside Out has linked up with Protexin, a company providing pre and probiotics this summer (and  I must say, Freddie is looking better than ever on it!)
We had our first joint venture at Blenheim Horse Trials. Freddie was housed in a very smart field shelter and was absolutely mesmerised by everything going on around him – he stood so still, ears pricked that several passers by thought he was a plastic model! For this event, he had his skeleton painted on one side and his alimentary canal on the other. All went well until at the start of the afternoon we were invited into the ring. No sooner had we got there when the heavens opened and of course, Freddie’s paint ran! What had been a lovely day gradually deteriorated. What had been wet anyway fast became a sea of mud. Crowds dwindled and eventually, the event was cancelled. Such a shame for all concerned! We are hoping for a repeat performance (of the event – not the weather!) at Your Horse Live, and we will be performing at the Holistic Horse Show at Towerlands at the end of next month.

 

Freddie and Henry have both been out and about eventing lately with varying degrees of success. They both seem fit and raring to go, so that is the main thing. Henry, who has tended to be a little nervous, is now growing in confidence. His training is progressing well. Freddie continues to be a superstar, loved by all! Both Henry and Freddie were featured in the September Issue if Horse and Rider.

Wow saddles have provided Freddie with a very well fitting dressage saddle. If you need a saddle, they are well worth contacting. Their tree is very different from most saddles and the design makes it extremely comfortable for the horse.

 

We are making Oasby Horse Trials our last for the season so I hope all goes well next weekend. All our fixtures are on the website. If you live in the Cirencester area, look out for the Winter lecture series. Horses Inside Out is organising a conference with Gerd Heuschmann and Dr Svend Kold. This is a brilliant opportunity not to be missed.

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Painting the digestive system on a horse at Blenheim Horse Trials

 

 

Gillian Higgins painting the muscles on a horse

 

 

Painting Horses

 

Gillian Painting the skeleton on a horse

 

The Hamsting muscles painted on a horse

October - December

2008 has certainly gone out with a bang! Horses Inside Out has been very privileged to have won Knowledge West’s best business award. The ceremony at the HP labs at Bristol University on December 4th was the culmination of 4 months hard work. From 700 original contenders, Horses Inside Out, the only equestrian business in the competition, was recognised by the Dragons Den-type judges as having the most potential. The competition was fierce and the entrants were diverse to say the least. They ranged from social to catering, environmental and IT projects. The runners up were a group of doctors who had developed a new range of software enabling health care professionals to access information more readily between providers. It was wonderful that the panel were fascinated enough to recognise and reward the global aims values and achievements of Horses Inside Out. The award has given impetus to the plans for the DVD planned to be made in Spring 2009.

To go back to the beginning of this period, Freddie did really well in the Intermediate Novice section at Oasby Horse Trials where he came second. He was beaten only by Ballincoola so we were actually honoured to be beaten by such illustrious competition!

On the demonstration front, autumn has been really busy! We gave a total of 6 lectures at the Holistic Horse Show at Towerlands, made a whirlwind tour of Cornwall where we did a demonstration with temperatures plummeting to minus 5. (The horse we used was a tough Gentleman used to hunting on Dartmoor. Just as well as painted horses cannot be rugged!.

The day after that we were at Hartpury College for the British Dressage Judges Convention. It was a real honour to be asked. After galloping at speed through the anatomy and biomechanics part of the talk, the judges watched Freddie on the lunge and in the pessoa and were given the opportunity to compare his way of going with Sam Ramatellah’s grand Prix Dressage horse Bungle, who showed off his far superior paces admirably. The judges were impressed and requested extra time! During the afternoon, we were able to give a talk to a group of Bowen Therapy students.

November also saw us at Your Horse Live, where we linked up with Protexin, a group making probiotics and a gut balancer. I have got to say that having Freddie on their products has certainly helped him keep weight on. During the autumn, Horses Inside Out has given lectures to students at Hartpury College and The Royal Agricultural College.

November too saw the first Winter Series lecture at The Royal Agricultural College. Yogi Brisener gave us a fascinating insight into the Beijing Olympics and looked forward to 2012. Back by popular demand, he was as entertaining and knowledgeable as ever and, with a plethora of interesting questions from the audience, the talk went on far into the evening.

 

To look forward, 2009 is already looking exciting with the first Horses Inside Out  Book with forwards by Christopher Bartle and Bettina Hoy due to be published at the end of March and the DVD to be released later in the year. Bookings are already up and there is the inaugural Horses Inside conference with Gerd Heuschmann taking place in April. We are on the lookout for 4 horses for him to use in his training lecture demonstration.

 

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Gillian Higgins at the British Dressage Judges Convention

 

 

Sam Rahmatalla riding Bungle a painted horse at the British Dressage Judges Convention

 

 

Painting the Horse at Your Horse Live

 

Cervical Vertebrae Painted on a horse

2007 Diary.

2007 began with a demonstration in February for the EHOA competition winners at Hartpury College. This was characterized by sub zero temperatures! Nevertheless it was well received and from Freddie’s point of view, it was perfectly acceptable as Hartpury boasts a very comfortable solarium!

Horses Inside Out was invited twice during the year to Hartpury to give lectures to the students. Lincoln University also benefited from demos for their equine students.

Riding Clubs, Pony Clubs, The BHS , Equestrian Centres, and Dressage Groups have all hosted highly successful demonstrations. Horses Inside Out has traveled the length and breadth of the country; every where we have been made most welcome and made some wonderful friends.
Ponies Inside Out was also launched during 2007. Lots of children have learned through painting ponies. Effective and fun!

During 2007, Lecture demonstrations were held at:

Hartpury College, Gloucestershire
Vale View Equestrian Centre, Leicestershire
Hunters Equestrian Centre, Cirencester
Pony Clubs, Cirencester
Society of Master Saddlers AGM, Warwickshire
Hand Equestrian Centre, Bristol
Total Saddle Solutions, Derbyshire
Ely Event Centre, Cambridgeshire
Shuttleworth College, Bedfordshire
Mill End Equestrian Centre, Hertfordshire
Yorkshire Riding Centre, Ripon
Moody Mares Saddlers, Huddersfield
Wilton Pony Club, Salisbury
Croft End Equestrian Centre, Oldham
Lincoln University

2008 is already looking very healthy, with plenty of lectures already booked and many more in the pipeline. Keep an eye on the website!
Look out for us at The Royal Show in July and the Holistic Horse Show at Towerlands in October.
Responding to popular demand, we are also working on a DVD which will be available towards the end of the year.

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Gillian Higgins with her skeleton painted horse

 

 

 

Gillian Riding the Painted Horse

 

The Horse's skeleton


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