I felt compelled to write regarding the latest incident in the Dressage world. Several weeks ago at the Adequan Westcoast Dressage Festival a rider was allowed to compete at the Intermediare I level, who clearly was not prepared to compete at this level, or really any level! However, I think enough has been said regarding this particular rider. What a horrifying experience to witness, I am surprised someone wasn’t screaming ” please, please stop! ” It is the reality of the world we live in. Greed, wealth, and desire for fame and ribbons has taken over. It seems that some changes have occurred since this incident. One is, no more live streaming. Does that protect the horse? No, it protects the abusive rider from getting insulted. This incident showed all forms of evil in a mad world. People were insulting the rider physically while others were defending her with ” maybe she was having a bad day.” There is no excuse, ever. We need to ensure our safety with such large animals but this horse was not placing anyone in danger.

I was giving a lesson recently to a new client. The rider was all out kicking her horse bluntly with a spur. I stood there for a moment as I had not had to witness spur jabbing during a lesson before. I spoke up, ” can you please not do that with your spur, your horse is going to get upset, he doesn’t understand. ” Then I asked her to remove the spurs and not wear them again, especially in my lesson. I was not asked to come back. I think of the horse often, and how some horse owners do not see these actions as abusive. I have also witnessed a trainer tying a horses head to a truck hitch to teach it to yield to pressure. I stopped working at that barn, I did not want to be associated with those methods. In hindsight, I should have held the trainer accountable. Not starting a confrontation but simply, ” Isn’t there a better way, why are you submitting the horse to this method?” Horses need to be taught what is acceptable or not acceptable with their behavior, the same goes for trainers using barbaric methods or worse, telling a rider they are” awesome”, basically closing their eyes and taking the clients money.  Horses shut down mentally in order to endure situations. It is an amazing defense mechanism that humans have as well. Victims of domestic violence have to be re trained to ” free their thoughts and become aware of feelings, it is a scary process to begin to feel.”  The eye of a shut down horse is like a shark, unemotional. Once the horse is being re conditioned, their eye becomes softer. This takes time, patience, and consistency. I have found the Ttouch to be most effective for awareness. Shutting down mind also results in shutting down body. Muscle tenseness is also a defense mechanism. Over time, these will have a result on the horses overall health and well being. I love helping horses, it is my passion.

There is a lack of riding schools teaching a good foundation for strength and balance in the saddle as well as understanding how the horse physique works. Everyone wants to be a master these days. You can you tube anyone teaching or training ,even if it’s completely inappropriate training methods. Be careful what you choose to study. Preserve always the beauty of the horse. Speak up about what concerns you ,but do not join in on bashing. Hold yourself accountable to how you are riding, what you are pursuing and if you have any doubt about your trainers methods, ask why they believe that will help the horses potential.

I once attended a ride a test clinic, the educator is a well known trainer and Judge. One rider entered the arena performing her third level Dressage test. The clinician immediately stopped the rider and asked who told her she was ready for that level, or why did she feel she should be competing at that level. That was so awesome, humbling for the rider and her trainer I am sure, but the instructor spoke for the horse. This trainer held them accountable by standing up for the horse, not closing her eyes and taking their money. I am part of the continued education of Science of Motion. We have a private discussion forum, the rule of the forum is we do not discuss or Judge the methods of others. If anything is posted to comment on the work of others ,it is taken down. This is not turning your back on disaster, it is arming riders with education to better themselves and hopefully others through example or instruction. The more riders are willing to provide themselves with bio mechanic knowledge of the horse , choosing empathetic trainers,


Invitation, not force


Pure joy in developing a partnership

and avoiding barbaric methods, the more we can do for the horse world. Are you actually impressed when someone makes their horse lie down and then stands on it’s neck or rib cage? Please go with your intuition of sadness and hold yourself accountable for desiring that. “The riders knowledge is the horses ultimate protection ”   – Jean Luc Cornille


The incredible focus between Steffen and a clinicians horse

Not everyone is a champion rider, or born a beautiful rider, you cannot buy your way with Grand Prix horses. Everyone must endure the path of knowledge, commitment and the work it takes to strive for perfect partnership with our horse. One more quote from Jean Luc Cornille which I think is beautiful and absolutely fitting for the where the horse world is headed.

” You might never reach the experience, knowledge, and fame that will make you a Master for the next generations, but you will be at your own level, a Master in your horses heart and that is all that matters.

” Jean Luc Cornille – Fundamental differences.



One’s Trash is Another’s Treasure

It’s amazing that I can still remember the horse that my instructor owned.  I was not allowed to handle her as I was only 9 at the time.  She was a beautiful Hanoverian mare trained in Dressage.  I would just watch in amazement when she would ride “Bellbay”.  It has always been a dream of mine to own a Hanoverian since then.  I have been fortunate enough to ride and train several types of warmbloods over the years, but my love for Hanoverian’s has remained.  However, the breed remained untouchable to me as the demands and prices of them rose.

I am always looking at horses for sale just out of curiosity.  Last summer, I came upon a very affordable Hanoverian mare!  She was being sold as a broodmare due to a lameness issue.  Her bloodlines were elite.  The price was incredible but I was hesitant as when I chose to look at her, all the red flags were there:

1.) The horse could not be caught easily.

2.) The owner was nervous to ride and only rode for a short time.

3.) The owner did not want me to ride.

I requested a video of the horse being ridden previously.  The video showed a beautiful but very tolerant mare being ridden in a lesson.  I say “tolerant” because she was being ridden in a weymouth (curb) with a standing martingale (tie down) to to keep her head in a flexed position.  Please know that I am not speaking with an ego, just in confidence.  I have re-educated enough horses in my life that I have developed an eye for hidden potential.  I purchased the mare.  I began the re-education that was necessary to reduce her lameness and create the mind and body of the athlete I knew she could be.  Her back and neck were tense from having her head forced into a position.  This caused her to develop an inverted rotation in the spine.  Wrong rotation begins to develop wrong muscle memory, which creates lameness.


The horse is allowed to find self-carriage.

My daughter loves to compete and is very good at it.  She has begun to develop a relationship with the mare.  Reassuring her with patience, kindness, and no forceful riding.  This has allowed her to successfully catch the mare.  She is helping with the training in excitement of being able to compete on such a beautiful moving athlete.  My daughter Lizzie has been awarded high scores, which led her to win the USDF region 5 training level championships.  She was competing on her Belgian-paint cross, who is now training at second level.  The training begins with in-hand work to develop correct use of muscles without a forceful position.  Longeing strengthens and develops balance in preparation for the rider.  All of this is introduced using the General Decarpentry method.  I have taught Lizzie the skills of re-educating motion and also the skills of Dressage.  Straightness, balance, and freedom of movement are important in changing the physique of a “damaged” horse.


In-hand, using the Decarpentry Method

Lets look at the definition of Dressage.  It means training in French.  The dictionary defines it as, “The art of riding and training in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility, and balance”.  Dressage can come across as a word that defines a certain type of horse and rider.  Let’s always think that Dressage started as bettering the horse.  Mary Twelveponies wrote her book, Everyday Training, Backyard Dressage, in hopes of teaching the everyday rider the fundamentals of using Dressage.

I want to help horses and their riders.  If you are using forceful equipment or


Lizzie working on straightness and balance.

methods to place your horse in a certain frame, please know that you are taking the path of destruction.  Forget the partnership and the love of working together.  The signs will begin to show soon enough, your horse does not look forward to seeing you, the horse begins unpredictable behavior, and even worse, the horse shows up lame.  This horse I have acquired was given up on when she tried to let her previous owner know she could not take the discomfort any longer.  The tolerance level of certain horses makes them continue to please until they are completely broken, in mind and body.  This is a story of a sincere love for horses.  I did not “rescue” her from an abusive home.  I gave this mare who loves to please, a second chance by rescuing her from an uneducated Dressage rider.

“Looking into the eyes of a horse is seeing the soul and purity of life.”   -Unknown    



The end result. A happy, relaxed horse, working towards complete self carriage, with no obvious lameness present. 



The Horses Mind

The horses mind is a place of very protective instincts. They learn at a young age what is good and relaxing and what creates pain. This is why many trainers believe in a  “response ” type stimulation. This is where the horse responds and the trainer relaxes all aids as a reward. This is an awesome portion of training a horse. I say portion because it only trains the mind to respond. To truly bring out a horses full potential, we must also train them the proper coordination of the muscles. This means balance, lightness, self carriage, etc. all come from proper muscle coordination. When riders accept their horse without proper flexion, bending, cadence, etc. because they are too focused on a ” response ” they miss out on creating an ideal partnership as well as creating a functional athlete.

Response is what we need at the beginning but we eventually have to paint a bigger picture. Horses, like humans, have very strong central pattern generators. This means that they can become very set in their ways of movement, believing they are protecting themselves from pain. Their minds become very set in believing they need to protect themselves from danger. A well educated trainer will work with the horses mind and body to create an ideal trusting partnership. I love re- educating horses. The only way to successfully “fix” lameness or behavioral problems is to focus on changing the horses muscle memory which creates a more relaxed mind. The horses use muscle compensation to protect an area causing pain. Some horses are tolerant of pain created by saddle fitting issues, forced positions, unbalanced riders…other horses are not. The tolerant ones are the ones that will ignore and obey until their physical pain begins to corrupt the sanity of their mind.

I had never quite understood or maybe had never quite studied central pattern generators until I came across one horse in particular. The owners of this Quarter horse had tried everything to fix their bucking horse.  He bucked when saddled ,longed or ridden. They sought help from several vets, trainers, as well as farriers. One vet said his wither was broken, another opinion revealed navicular and ulcers from tight fitting shoes. A final opinion was done at the University where they performed a full body nuclear scan. They determined none of the previous diagnosis were correct. They found three areas of concern in his sacroiliac joint and neck areas. These areas were injected with silicon. As time passed, the horse was losing hair, developing rashes, and showing worse signs of stressful and violent behavior.

I came to see the gelding, it was perfect timing to use my science of motion therapy I had begun studying. He was thin but had tons of free choice hay. He pinned his ears at me when I tried to approached him, he would not let me touch him and then started to bite at his hind legs in anger. It was very odd behavior from the start. His owner loved him and wanted to do whatever possible. No one could explain why the horse behaved so aggressively.  His spine was inverted so badly from muscle compensation ( one side built up higher ) that you felt as though the saddle was slipping left. The owners agreed to let me take him to a facility where I could put him on a strict exercise program of six days per week.  I addressed the muscle memory by using sophisticated movements of Dressage at the walk, then trot, followed by canter work. Focusing on straightness, balance, cadence, correct bending of the spine, and eventually a slight flexion of the poll. The neck cannot be forced in a position, this is how the SI joint became dysfunctional.gabe pic

The owner would come to ride and no one could believe it was the same horse. He had been in consistent training for two months and the owner was ready to get him home. I was to come once or twice per week to check in, the owner was able to continue the exercises on a consistent schedule. This was when the old behavior quickly returned. Emotionally the horse could not change what he thought was a place that created pain. The owners could not take any more time, money or risk to help this horse overcome and change his mind. They did not realize the training methods they were using on this particular horse was creating physical abnormality.  He ended up at a great home where he does not have the pain association with his surroundings. Horses become very set in their minds. We need to carefully train them both mentally and physically. Understand that whatever we may put on their mind, they may not be willing to let go. ” Only a partnership offering ease and comfort to the horse can encourage their brain to further coordinate their body” – Jean Luc Cornilles words. Please pay careful attention to what is being taught to your horse. Training horses without a sound understanding of how their bodies function is ignorant.

” You don’t make him learn. You set it up to allow him to learn. You have to give him that with dignity.  Once you start giving, you won’t believe how much you get back ” -Ray Hunt



Proof of therapy using motion 2

This is a half Andalusian half Pinto 14 year gelding. He is used as a trail horse but has a hard time relaxing and just walking. Obviously this becomes obnoxious when trying to ride out with others and can get them all worked up. I have graduated from the Science of Motion course and apply this miracle method to the re education of all horses I train. Some may watch him being schooled and say it is because he is ” locked in the shoulders”  This is a good theory as it is what is seen by the naked eye. ” He needs to be ridden very forward pushed up to the bit” This is a theory that fit’s the language of modern Dressage training. Unfortunately, this is the type of simplistic methods that have created damaging effects on this horses behavior, physique, and eventually soundness. You must look at the biomechanics of this horses movement. It is much much more complex than the simplicity approach of modern training methods. This gelding in particular has learned to contract his back muscles making it impossible for longitudinal flexion of the thoracolumbar spine. His physique is that of a rectangle. He holds his neck in a very high position. The contraction of the back muscles has led to a lateral movement in his gaits. This in turn makes it impossible for him to walk for any long amount of time.                        “Prancing” is a much more comfortable gait for him since his mind cannot retrain the muscles to stop contracting as a defense mechanism for pain or even imbalance. The back needs to be addressed first and foremost. He is a bit like steering an airplane, there is no bend through the body, left or right. Transversal rotation of the spine needs to be educated beginning with a simple shoulder fore. The crossing of the hind leg under and in front of other hind leg at a slow concentrated walk tilts the spine to the inside recreating the muscle memory in the back. This begins to re generate correct muscle movement under the weight of a rider. It is important to also begin teaching straightness as well as flexion of the poll. Introducing and continuing sophisticated gymnastic movements will create the lift and bend needed to ” let go ” of this muscle memory he has created in order to protect himself from training techniques that had damaging effects on his mind and body.

Attempting half halts on a horse with these kinds of problems is difficult. I place pressure on the bit and instead of slowing and re balancing, he pushes on the bit, contracting his back, rushing himself forward. It is important to begin to communicate a dialogue with him. Instead of believing he is ” dead to the aids ” I will teach him the significance of my body nuances ( a subtle difference in feeling, position or muscle ) to ask him to change his as well. It is so rewarding to teach a horse communication through nuances instead of strong aids. The horse becomes so free from the mental shutdown of submission. This creates a communication between horse and rider of balance, lightness, unity and just plain truth. ” Gesture versus Energy ”

” There is no secret so close as that between a rider and his horse “


start of re education, head high back contracted


poll flexion


start of shoulder fore at walk


lightness, balance, start of longitudinal flexion


relaxed walk on long rein. looking more like a comfortable trail horse















Evaluation of difficult behavior

I assess the horses overall health, well – being , and their physique. Incorrect muscling is a good start to knowing the horse is moving abnormally. Evaluating a horse for physical and behavioral problems takes not only skill, knowledge, and experience, but also empathy and an owners’s willingness to think outside the ” box ”

Understanding the horses physiology and learning to promote functional anatomy is the first step in re- educating your horse. There are no set ” rules ” that you have to follow to have a successful relationship with your horse. You do need to understand how to properly coordinate your horses mind and body for it to become a happy functional athlete or partner. If your desire is to learn from someone that only has ribbons and awards to prove their knowledge, you are staying in the ” box ”

Horse world has become a place of judgement, a place of overlooking what is actually causing your horses behavior or lameness issues. A place of religiously searching for that one method or trainer that can create the relationship you so desire with your horse, that light and balanced movement that seems absolutely unattainable. Horse owners need to stop and listen to any intuition they may have regarding the work they are doing with their horse. It’s important to include your veterinarian in these concerns if they are interfering with the well being of your horse. There will slowly be behavior signs, warning of pain long before the actual lameness will show up, or horses behavior will escalate to dangerous. Forcing a horse in a position because we are told to or it will win us a ribbon is not a path to a successful relationship. Riders are spending so much of their quality time with their horse doing what they think the finished picture looks like, not understanding the damaging effects it places on the kinematics of the horses movement. It’s a discouraging path to take for horse and rider.

Leadership when resumed to submission is handicapping to horses mind as well as their spirit. The best leadership for the horse is knowledge. ( Jean Luc Cornille ) The same goes for the student of a trainer that is forced to believe they can never attain an understanding of the higher level of movements without an expensive big moving horse. Movement is always a benefactor in judging standards but attaining correct biomechanics for any discipline is the best reward you can get. The next few blogs will journal the before and after success stories of each horse using the knowledge I attained by completing the Science of Motion therapy class.

“The authority pleasing, question suppressing, rule following approach is wasting the athletic abilities of talented horses and gifted riders.”  –Well said, Jean Luc Cornille




Creating an ideal partnership through knowledge

Knowledge is an important part of learning to ride. We can learn about our horses mind’s and how to empower them. We can learn about our horses ” natural ” habitat and believe we are creating a natural environment in our training methods. The best rider’s and trainers are the one’s mastering the horses physique, creating a functional athlete. Studying how they need to be prepared both mentally and physically for the demands of a rider. This goes for any type of riding as it takes a properly functioning horse to create balance. This type of knowledge requires a sincere dedication of learning and understanding how the horse moves bio mechanically and how we can offer the best comfort and ease mentally as well as physically. To rehabilitate a horses mind and muscles that has been allowed to move dysfunctionally takes both skill and patience. We as riders need to understand that it is a slow, concentrated process to get to the finished picture. If we are trying to start with the finished picture of what we think the horse should be, we are missing out on being more than just a passenger on our horses back. Having a knowledge of how we can negatively affect or positively influence the horses movement and balance places us in a unique relationship of unity and intuition. I will dedicate this blog to rider’s in particular refusing to deepen their knowledge and allowing their horses to be forever enslaved to fitting into a system.

“The riders knowledge is the horses ultimate protection”                                                                    
 – Jean Luc Cornille  

Understanding horses mind and body -Part two

It’s important for your horse to be comfortable in his work. If you are not sure if your saddle fits, ask a professional for help. Always begin by setting saddle on horse without a pad. The pommel should not be touching the wither. Place your hand on inside of bars,, if it feels super tight, it is hampering movement of horses shoulder.. You don’t want the bars ( or gullet ) too loose and wobbly either. Now test the saddle with pad and tightened up, standing in your stirrups, place your fingers between the saddle and wither, when you lean forward, there should be no pinching, that is what your horse would feel, check for pinching in the bar area too. Bit fitting is extremely important, as well. A bit that is too narrow for your horses mouth will pinch the corners. One that is too big will move side to side and cause soreness. If a horse has been ridden with poor fitting tack, just changing does not always solve the problem. Horses can become deeply traumatized by pain. Developing  incorrect muscle comes from compensating for poor fitting saddles, uneducated riders, and false training practices ( misconceptions ).  Pain leads to survival instincts.  Horses will shut off their brain, becoming ” numb” to their surroundings, submitting to pain, just to tolerate and survive. What an impressive defense mechanism, allowing them to evolve, but also, unfortunately allowing them a tolerant nature to training misconceptions. This will cause heavy duty emotional baggage that takes knowledge, time, and creativity to fix. You will need to develop and coordinate correct back muscles with sophisticated gymnastic exercises, re educating the abnormal muscle memory.  Treat the problem at the level of athletic development, fixing the root cause, not just

imagejpeg_0 Screenshot 2018-02-04 at 9.10.42 AMScreenshot_2017-03-31-17-48-03-1

focusing on the sole problem. As long as physical pain is still present, no psychology training will work. Fix the muscular pain, then the memory.

____” A gifted horse will lead a good rider to victory, A great rider will give to the horse the gift of soundness” Jean Luc Cornille