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Women & Horses by Mary D. Midkiff - horseback riding fitness techniques for women
RFD-TV Announces New Show with Mary Midkiff Equestrian World Announced Equine Tips with Mary Midkiff

Mary's Equine Tips
(Previously aired on RFD-TV

Connect with your horse on both sides when leading: Establish leading a horse from both sides for balance and safety. We often learn to lean and mount and saddle horses from one side because of convenience. This is not helpful to the horse and can cause lameness issues over time. Learn to lead your and work around your horse from both sides in everything you do.

Massage the withers to bring down blood pressure: Massage and rub the horses withers whether you are on the ground or mounted as a calming influence. When your horse gets nervous while you are mounted or on the ground with him use wither massage to lower the blood pressure.

Keeping the horse's back and neck relaxed when tied: Make sure your horse's head and neck are relaxed and lowered when tied. I see many horses in cross-ties and hooked up to trailers with their heads and necks held tight and high. This only causes a hollow back, unnecessary tension, poor neck and back muscle development and is counter to relaxation. I prefer not to use cross-ties, I've seen too many horrific accidents with them, however, if you must make sure the lines are long enough to allow the horse to hang his head at least on a level plane with his back. I do prefer to tie with a short but loose rope in a safety knot with the horse's head level or low.

Keep chestnuts or night eye's tidy: Keep chestnuts neat and trimmed for looks and health reasons. What horse chestnuts are, where they are on all four legs and the variety in them per breed. Each horse has chestnut characteristics which will make them easy or difficult to peel. Use baby oil, lanolin or a moisturizer to soften the chestnut and peel off.

Mouth Massage Techniques: Use mouth massage on your horse before you bridle them. Horses typically hold a great deal of tension and stress in their mouths and jaws which can lead to headaches, biting, head tilting, anger and frustration in training. First have a master dentist give your horse a complete dental exam. Ideally after the dental exam you would have your horse chiropractor come in and give the horse a good going over to make sure his body is in alignment. I have seen so many mouth and jaw issues cause neck and back problems. Once the horse is comfortable begin working in and around the mouth. Start with the nostrils, corners of the mouth, gums, soft palette and tongue. Place your hand in the bars of the horse's mouth where there are no teeth. Be careful with geldings that still have their wolf teeth as these can be very sharp.

Bubble Gum Shoulder Exercise: Use the Bubble Gum shoulder exercise to bring your shoulders into alignment. Demonstration.

Notice Placement of stirrup bars: Placement of stirrup bars can be helpful to women's position and balance.

When saddling, always make a space for the horse's spine: Always lift padding up to the saddle to allow air and space for the horse's spine.

Blanket fitting: Tip for the day is to allow plenty of room for movement under your sheets and blankets.

Types of blankets and sheets: Tip for the day is to select and change sheets and blankets with conditions.

Stretching Exercises on the Ball: Use the ball to stretch at home everyday and you will notice a significant change in your riding. Your horse will appreciate your commitment to the stretches.

When there's a problem always look to the inside of the horse first: Always look to the internal systems of the horse first when there is a problem. Some typical problems and issues and how to approach it differently than with training techniques and gimmicks. Whether it's a young horse and everything is new, a trained horse that develops problems, a made horse that begins misbehaving or a horse that stops performing, always look to the nervous system for answers.

How should a healthy horse look? My tip for the day is learning to recognize a healthy horse. Take a few steps back and observe a horse standing either held or tied. Answer these questions: Does the horse have a peaceful expression in his/her eye? Is the horse breathing slowly and without nostril extension? Is there any visible tension in the body or appearance of this horse? Does the horse look like one whole package or is he/she broken up into many parts? From the side, does the horse have muscle definition without bulges? Is the horse's back lifted to its full potential? Does his coat shine and is it soft and supple? Are his feet round and trimmed in proportion with his body? Is his manure soft but formed? Are his ribs visible? Does he have hollow spots?

Safety stirrups: Consider riding with safety stirrups.

Check for body alignment in the saddle: Use a checklist on your own back for alignment in the saddle.

Women need to maintain an open knee position for best results: Keep your knees off the saddle and open for best flexibility and movement in the saddle.


Previous Tips:

Saddle Padding
Neutral Pelvic Position in the Saddle
Neutral Pelvic Position While in Motion
Stretching Hip Flexors
Stretching before Mounting
Stretching before Mounting 2
How to Mount Safely
Using Protective Headgear
Fitting Protective Headgear
Calming the Anxious Horse
Mouth-Related and Dental Issues

Take a Holistic Approach
Protecting the Legs in Work
Cleaning the Horse's Head
English Saddle Fitting
Western Saddle Fitting
How to Promote a Horse's Healthy Back
Rider Shoulder Alignment Exercise
Loosening Hips using a Chair
Loosening Hips Lying on the Floor
Finding Neutral Pelvis
Maintaining Pelvis Position Mounted

female equestrian fitness training and riding tips

Midkiff Horse Training, PO box 24395, Lexington KY 40524
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