Something to keep in mind when you lunge your horse or work him/her in-hand. Fixed headsets, fixed postures, fixed gaits for long or even short stretches of times do not build fitness, instead they build stiffness.
Too much energy/activity runs the horse down and damages its body. Not enough energy/activity and he becomes careless and indifferent.
Remember to vary the gaits, and the gaits within the gaits and to vary the level of activity you ask of your horse. To develop elastic, supple, loose, flexible muscles, tendons and ligaments your horse’s body needs to gather and extend, open and close, contract and release.
His/Her posture must be able to change, his neck to shorten, extend, lower or rise to help him/her find its equilibrium and travel in balance.
Fixity is for corpses, for inanimate matter. The horse’s body (like our own) is alive. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, eyes, ears, lips, hooves, bones, everything is fascia, everything is alive, constantly adjusting to movement, load, pressure, direction and thus having to be elastic, to absorb and give and stretch.
The mind of the horse is receiving and telegraphing signals to its body constantly based on the data it receives about its environment but also based on its emotional state which impacts its tonus.
Bodies breathe, they expand, they contract, they extend, they flex, they stretch and release. Balance ultimately stems from all this life, these emotions, all these cells and systems being able to constantly self adjust to the space they travel in and the speed they travel at.
We do not want to block this process. We want our horses balance to spring from within. We want their minds to decide what to do based on what their senses tell them, not for us to take over their bodies thinking. We want to guide and shape, not to create straight jackets and do hostile take overs. We do not know better then the horse’s body, it knows how to protect itself, given the chance. (99.99% of the time).
This is true of a young horse and of any horse as it progresses up in its training.