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Blog and News 2015

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| Training, Therapy and Peformance Conference |

Posture and PerformanceDecember 2015

Following the publication of Posture and Performance in October.
The first book reviews are coming in.

Click here to read a very informative review by Emma Butler.

More information about Posture and Performance

November 2015: New Video Trailer for Posture and Performance Released!

Posture and PerformanceOctober 2015: NEW BOOK PUBLISHED

Posture and Performance:
Principles of Training Horses from the Anatomical Perspective


Full details can be seen HERE!

**ORDER your copy HERE**

This beautifully illustrated book looks at how to deliver a safe, varied, fun, effective and achievable training programme. It provides all the ingredients for riders to make informed decisions to maximise their own and their horse’s potential, gain more enjoyment, satisfaction and improve their skills. Based on the principles of anatomy and biomechanics with welfare in mind learn all about: Skeletal maturity; how to achieve good back posture; how stresses and strains in one part of the body affects another; why some muscles become long and weak and others short and tight; how to reduce strain on ligaments and tendons; movements to strengthen and condition muscles; exercises for suppleness and core stability; why pole work and gymnastic jumping benefits horses for all disciplines.

August 2015 - Welcoming Arty

ArtyArtyMeet Arty - the newest member of the Horses Inside Out Team. Arty, who joined us in July this year and is appropriately and officially called Artistic Licence, is a handsome, gentle and lovable 17hh, 4 year old Irish Sports Horse.  The aim is to train Arty both for Eventing and to follow in Freddie Fox’s footsteps as the Horses Inside Out superstar. (A hard act to follow!). Arty will be brought on slowly and exposed to as many different situations as possible. He has been backed and taking into account his physical development and skeletal maturity is currently being ridden lightly and is doing  groundwork, Pilates and pole work exercises in preparation for his future careers.


August 2015 - Anatomical Artist Gillian Higgins paints a Horse RUSH!

Take a look at this fun video edited by

25th June 2015 - The Biomechanics of Jumping Explored - Film shoot at Brooksby Equestrian Centre

Biomechanics of jumping

Although the musculoskeletal system comes under enormous strain when jumping, jumping is also good for mobility, suppleness, agility, coordination and  developing reaction, power and strength.

The size, type and arrangement of jumps and poles all affect the way the horse uses himself over a fence.

The more we can learn about jumping the better we will be able to reduce the risk of injury and improve jumping technique.



Tendon and Ligament biomechanics of the horse


The forces through the limbs at take off and landing are many times the horses body weight.

The tendons and ligaments painted on the lower limb really helps to illustrate which structures come under most strain in these moments.

Stretch and recoil of connective tissue structures contributes to the ability of the horse to jump and land effectively.


The slow motion, high-definition, close-up videos of this will be used at Gillian's courses and events particularly the Biomechanics Courses.



Edweard Muybridge inspiredWith the addition of a rider the horse must cope with increased forces through his limbs. More power is required to jump and his balance is challenged.

It is vitally important to continually work on our own posture and position.

Studying rider's in the skeleton bodysuits helps us to appreciate how we can move our own bodies to best help the horse. Slow-motion, high-definition, and close-up footage will be available to view at future Horses Inside Out events and coures.

Biomechanics of jumping horses



Many Thanks to event riders Fiona Davidson with Smokey (as seen on TV BBC Countryfile on 14th June) and Hannah Lorrimer with Marley for making this day possible.


To learn more about this exploration day please
do not hesitate to contact




And now for something completely different – and fascinating!

Team Horses Inside OutEllie Harrison Gillian HigginsWe have just returned after a day spent a day filming with the country file team for their programme featuring Nottinghamshire to be aireAnatomical Horsesd on June 14th.


After a very early start we arrived at Brackenhurst Equine College to begin preparations. (Incidentally we were so impressed with the stables and school at Brackenhurst!) Sadly Freddie, now retired, was not able to take part but two friends very kindly allowed us to paint their horses. The first, Forest Man (Darby), a beautiful 15hh Connemara owned by Mandy Ellis and the second Galwaybay Smokie (Smokie) a beautiful 17.2hh event horse destined for Badminton owned and ridden by Fiona Davison were both impeccably behaved all day.

Muscles of the Horse interview with Ellie harrisonGillian Higgins and Fiona DavidsonInterview with Ellie Harrison BBC TV Country File - Muscles of the Horse

The team arrived with all their equipment and we met Ellie Harrison and the production team. The fly in the ointment was definitely the weather. It rained and blew all day so we had to film indoors which was rather a shame as Counrtyfile does like to be outside. – Just not possible when water based paint is involved! First shots were of Ellie helping to paint. Everything has to be repeated several times to get the shots from different angles.

Horse anatomy explainedEventually painting was complete (It was great having such a fantastic team to help get the horse ready and look after them when they were not centre stage!) and we moved to the indoor school.  Derby was lunged and jumped. Both horses performed Pilates exercises and Smokie showed off his lateral work and jumped his socks off!! Both Ellie and Fiona rode in lycra skeleton body suits- no mean feat as the lycra is extremely slippy. It was fantastic and such fun working with such a professional team. It was a challenge to presenting to a prospective audience of both knowledgeable horse people and those that know nothing about horses. The main themes of the interviews were: posture – one of my ‘high horse’ topics and particularly applicable in the case of Smokie! how important it is for us to be responsible for their well being – we can think of ourselves as being personal trainers to our horses and how much we owe to our horses both historically and in the present day.

The day ended with both horses being treated to a warm shower in the custom made spa box. Once bathed, pampered and slightly pink around the edges, they were then wrapped up warm and taken home for a well earned rest.

BBC TVRider Posture positionRiding Posture and position


***WATCH HORSES INSIDE OUT ON COUNTRYFILE its on iPlayer till 6th July!***
*** Click here and go to 43mins thorough the programme ***

Muscular AnatomyAPRIL 2015 - ANATOMICAL ART WORK

Muscles of the head

Gillian paints a life-size model horse commissioned by Equissage.

Testimonial from Vicky Archer, Marketing Director, Equissage Ltd.

Muscles of the Head"Gillian, what can I say??I said I wantedwow on our trade stand and I got it! Over 350 painting hours all superbly done.Thank you. When we came up with this idea, I underestimated the impact it would have on the people visiting the stand. People actually come onto the stand tovisit the 'Harry anatomically painted horse'.
A brilliant masterpiece and so amazing. Thank you."
Anatomy of the Cranium

In addition to live horses Gillian Higgins has recently completed several pieces of anatomical artwork.

These pieces are suitable for advertising, marketing, attracting attention or simply to enjoy.

For more information or a comission quote contact Gillian directly on:+44(0)1159212648 or email

Muscles of the horse

Training, Therapy and Performance
28th February and 1st March 2015
Ettington Chase Hotel and Moreton Morrell, Warwickshire

Report by Francis McKim and Photos by Helen Richmond

Horses Inside Out ConferenceAt this, the ninth Horses Inside Out conference, the team was delighted to welcome over 150 delegates to this now well established two-day annual conference. This year the format was one day of world-class presentations relating on this topic held at the Ettington Chase hotel, followed by a practical day where the horses, accompanied by renowned international trainers, were Questionsthe stars at Morton Morrell College, Warwickshire. Delegates came from far and wide, with over 10% from overseas, coming from as far away as Australia, Porto Rico, Norway and Dubai. Just as the geographic spread was wide, so were the occupations of those attending. With the majority of delegates being equine therapists, there was also a good mix of vets, trainers, saddlers, farriers and horse owners.

Gillian HigginsOpening the conference, Gillian Higgins, the founder of Horses Inside Out, warmly welcomed all the delegates and said: “The theme of this year’s event is training and how therapy relates to performance. Our horses are athletes and if we manage to get their training correct we end up with happy and healthy horses. We need to take responsibility of our horses and regard ourselves as our horse’s personal trainers.”

COlin Roberts and Gillian HigginsHaving set the scene Dr Colin Roberts from the University of Cambridge discussed the anatomy of a horse’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems stressing that these were two key parts of thKathryn Nankerviseir make-up. He highlighted that the horse was an impressive machine, in effect a top class athlete, and will respond to appropriate training. But as anyone who has ever trained a horse knows, it can all go wrong, so Kathryn Nankervis from the Equine Therapy Centre at Hartbury College addressed the topic of rehabilitation.


Dr David MarlinGraham CrossFrom a more scientific point of view, Dr David Marlin of Science Supplements Ltd explored training issues. He pointed out that horses were very biddable animals, keen to please – a characteristic that can often work to their disadvantage. As humans, we are very competitive and can, if not careful, push horses beyond either their mental or physical abilities which all too often leads to equine injury.

Whilst we train our horses, this is only one part of the equation and the rider himself must also be trained. David Newbound of Backinaction discussed ways of improving the rider’s performance, in particular a rider’s back.

The second day was spent listening and watching the training techniques employed by two world class equestrians.

Chris BartleChris Bartle on balanceThe first, Christopher Bartle, having himself competed at the highest level in both dressage and eventing, and now coach to the German national eventing team, explained his beliefs that when training a performance horse, all aspects of ridden work should be built into the training regime. He stressed: “Don’t compartmentalise dressage and show jumping. When you jump a fence, you need to ride your approach to the next as if you were performing dressage.” He stressed the importance of balance. “Balance is a very precious thing. Even a very slight change in the rider’s balance, changes that of the horse too.” To graphically illustrate the effect of any changGillian Higginse in balance, Christopher placed a cavaletti pole horizontal across two others. Once in balance, even a few grains of sand taken from the arena and placed on one end can totally destroy the equilibrium. A message every aspiring rider, of any discipline, should certainly heed.

Horses Inside OutWith a selection of inexperienced and advanced horses expertly ridden by Matt Frost and Justine Sole, Adam Kemp of AM Dressage stressed tAM Dressagewo equally basic theories when training any horse - simplicity and reward. Adam said: “Keep the message simple. Your horse has always got to feel he has won. Make sure he benefits from doing what you ask him to do.” He went on to detail how every hose must be treated as an individual and stressed one point in particular: “Don’t make a horse try to do more \hiothan it is capable of achieving. It will break.”

The formal conference sessions are only one facet of such events. Meeting fellow professionals from around the country, chatting and exchanging ideas is as equally rewarding. The organisers certainly made allowance for this with generous coffee breaks, excellent lunches and a conference dinner. Here delegates were delighted to hear how well-known classical rider, Sylvia Loch, developed her theories over her lifetime. Another significant part of the weekend was a small but targeted exhibition which delegates could explore in the breaks.
All in all an inspirational weekend. Delegates have the 2016 conference to look forward to, the tenth in this series, on 20 & 21 February 2016 to be held at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester.

Photographs by Helen Richmond

January 2015

January is one of our quieter months. David and Gillian took the opportunity with a group of family and friends to ‘head for the hills’ and went off to ski in France. A good time had by all.
As soon as they returned we were into our first course of the year. CPD for qualified therapists. These are great days – a group of like minded therapists – all different disciplines but all eager to exchanged information, share knowledge, network and work for the good of the horse.
This was followed closely by our first dissection of the year - The head and Neck. We had two lovely specimens. These are sourced from Potters Abattoir in Gloucester and are either native ponies who struggle to survive or ponies bred for meat and destined for the continent. There are quite a few people who don’t realise this market even exists! Gillian looked at the hyoid apparatus, it’s connections with the tongue and neck muscles and Linda Greening led the group looking at the Brain. As the group was unusually small it was a very good day.

Dissection at Hartpury
The beginning of February saw the first continental trip of the year. A biomechanics and technique CPD course for the Dutch Physiotherapy Association the equivalent of ACPAT in Holland. This was a wonderful few days with everyone enjoying the videos and exercises. It was then all hands on deck to prepare for our biggest and most exciting event of the year. The Conference!


Gillian awarded honorary international lifetime membership to the Equine Therapies Association of Australia for contribution to the horse industry in Australia.




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