About Training-For-Optimal-Balance

Training For Optimal Balance is the training program I developed and use with all types of horses from rescues to performance. The primary goal of the program is to habituate ideal emotional, mental and physical balance in both horse and rider. Training for Optimal Balance focuses on developing a high degree of quality in the “basic” skills. Blending theory from a variety of training ideals such as Natural Horsemanship and Classical Dressage, this training program utilizes essential, universal fundamentals to achieve the desired result.

Whether your goal is simply a safe, enjoyable trail ride or your aim is a competitive edge in performance sports, quality in the basics is vital. Quality is achieved through understanding and experiencing the physiological connection between Mind (behavior) and Body (physical health and function). In other words, the WHOLE horse and rider must operate in balance to overcome problems or reach performance goals.

Training for Optimal Balance does this by addressing things that are in common for all horses and riders, not what is different or fashionable. At a fundamental level, all horses and all riders have two important things in common no matter the breed, age, conformation or level of training – Instincts and Anatomy.

Instinctual defense patterns, expressed as fight, flight or freeze, are the root of all behavior issues with horses and fear issues with riders. However, instincts can be channeled to build skills in the horse for coping in the human environment. Skills can be developed in every rider that lead to trust and a healthy relationship with the horse.

The horse’s natural anatomy dictates correct, healthy bio-mechanical function no matter the sport or style of riding. Utilizing modern science we can build skills in the horse that overcome genetic or conformational challenges and develop correct function. These skills work to restore health, rehabilitate or maximize the potential of talent. For the rider it is much the same. Balance is balance no matter the saddle or sport. The human anatomy is always subject to the laws of physics on the back of a horse.

Section-1 of the training program is called Basic Handling. The objective is to overcome defensive behavior and cultivate consistent mental-emotional balance. If the horse won’t really participate then no amount of training will really stick. Recognizing the Learning Frame of Mind and making it a habit means the horse will retain the training as a skill. While the skills outlined in this area of training are simple, the theory will be applied throughout the entire program.

Section-2, Groundwork, the skills become more complex and correct bio-mechanical function, also called physical balance, is developed in the horse without a rider. Once the horse will work with you, developing Self-Carriage ensures that the horse remains healthy and happy in the context of work. These skills develop a safe, comfortable riding horse while the rider develops feel and timing.

Section-3, Rider Balance, puts the emphasis on skills that a rider needs to develop. Just like a horse, a rider needs to habituate a Learning Frame of Mind and Self-Carriage with an independent seat. If a rider lacks a sense of balance that is independent of the horse’s balance, then gravity can make riding very difficult.

Section-4, Re-Starting Under Saddle, brings everything together. A well prepared horse with many skills now gets to work with a well prepared, skilled rider. This section makes no assumptions and reviews the elements of communication and correct function under saddle. For un-ridden horses it is a safe, simple way to get going. For horses that have been ridden it is a map of solid fundamentals that can be reviewed for problem solving or enhancing performance.

Take a look around the site and see how this program has worked for a huge variety of horses in the Student Journal. You can also read more detailed thoughts in the Blog.

Welcome! So glad you stopped by.

Kirsten Nelsen


Equine Imbalance

...."Many problems (of the horse) can be caused by unbalanced patterns of tension in the body"........
....."Uneven tension will often result in uneven body use, difficulty carrying a saddle and rider, stiffness generally 'through the back' or the body as a whole, behavioural problems etc..... " Gavin Scofield D.O.
Founder of Equine Postural Training &
Official Osteopath for the British Endurance team

Acknowledgements

Photos Contributed by:
Jim McCleary - McCleary Photography
Christianne Gentile - True by Christianne
Sarah Wengernuk - Essence Photography

Quote Of The Day

In our highly competitive horse world today, we are too often prone to believe that ‘more is better.’ This has led to excesses and unsound and harmful practices that are not based on good movement and body-use principles
~Susan Harris