Training Aids / Gadgets – Whats your opinion??

Training Gadgets / Aids

We are in an age where many riders/trainers/general horse people are either very anti-training aids/gadgets or very pro with no area in between.  What is your opinion? We are very interested to hear what your current opinions are, and what you are using with your horses at the mo so please fill out our survey which should only take a few minutes https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/D8L3VHR .  We are of the general opinion that they do have their place within a training regime of some horses, they are not a one thing fix all, every gadget is not suitable for every horse.  They must be fitted and used correctly, the amount of times I see people using certain aids completely incorrectly, on the wrong  horses’ way of going, far too tight/loose, attached to the wrong places or incorrect aid for the issue they are trying to help is unbelievable.  Training gadgets can be of great help to your horse if used correctly. They are NOT a quick fix to get the horse into an “outline”.  Their purpose is to develop the correct muscles of the back, topline and hind end without them leaning on the forehand.  Before using any training aids the horse must be taught to give correctly while worked in hand, and to move straight and balanced.  I am a big advocate of in-hand work, straightness training, etc. and will always try to use this before resorting to aids to create the straightness and balance required but sometimes they can give the horse a nudge I the right direction.  Training aids should only be used for short periods of time and must be correctly fitted.  Below you will find a little information on some of the most commonly used training aids, my favourite being the pilates bands.  If you need any help with deciding which your horse needs, fitting, using etc feel free to contact us.  If you are local to the Cheshire area we can come give you help in person or if you are further away we can help through video, skype etc.  Some of these aids are available to purchase through The Animal Therapy Hub.

Pessoa – Provides fluid contact for the horses’ movements to encourage the horse to work in an ideal shape. Encourages lumbo-sacral and & SIJ flexion, supports the development & suppleness of the back muscles.  It builds up the horses’ core strength and helps develop free forward flowing paces.  Increases cranial phase of the stride in the hind end, but can reduce the caudal phase so some horses do not like it for this reason; pilates bands are preferred in this instance.

Chambon – Prevents the horse from raising its head beyond a fixed point. Raising the head causes the chambon to shorten along the cheek pieces putting pressure on the on the poll. To release the pressure they lower their head, long and low raising the back. When in motion, this encourages the horse to relax its back and bring its hindquarters further under its body. It has no direct effect on the hindquarters, so the handler must encourage hind end impulsion.  If used incorrectly the horse may go on the forehand and can also get sore neck muscles if overused.

De Gogue – Encourages the horse to raise the neck, free the shoulders and engage the hocks, so that he may develop the correct muscles for a rounded topline. Designed to reduce resistance in the poll, the mouth, and the base of the neck. When the horse keeps his head in the acceptable position, the Gogue has no effect, but when he sticks his nose out or raises his head, the Gogue comes into action, raising the bit in the mouth and applying pressure to the poll. The horse must be encouraged to go actively forwards.  Can be used for ridden and ground work.  Care must be taken when fitting.

Draw Reins – Give the rider a Mechanical advantage of a single movable pulley to cause the horse to lower its head. They slide through the bit ring, adding leverage to the rider’s hands and arms, allowing the rider to get the horse’s head into a desired position or help with horses that are very heavy on the hand or lacking in concentration.  There are different ways to use them which will have differing action on the horse. Misuse is prevalent which is why they have such a bad name, but they do have their place if used correctly for the right horse in the right situation.

HO Kavalkade Lunging Aid – Made from a long loop of lightweight cord which reaches over the horse’s back, just behind the withers, comes around the elbow and between the front legs, up to either the bit rings or the lunge cavesson. It is designed to help develop throughness and outline without tying the horse down. Used to help develop topline and sympathetically encourage a correct way of working.

Pilates Bands – 2 bands connecting to the roller one around the belly and one around the hind end under the tail about level with the stifle.  Provides direct constant stimulation to activate core muscles and continuous resistance which gives stability of movement.  Encourages engagement and correct development of the major muscle groups of the hind end, back and core muscles.

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