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Harmony is born out of a genuine empathy for the horse and a compassionate awareness of the mental and physical impact of the work on the horse.

Amy's Page

I found Amy in 1999 as a green broke 9 year old named Fred who had had very little training. Her previous owner had been in an accident with her and as a result, was afraid to ride her. I was drawn to Amy by her gentle nature and powerful, balanced build. 

In spite of her wonderful disposition, Amy’s training went progressively downhill.

The first problem I noticed was saddle fit. Amy had a broad back but high withers that tied in toward the middle of her back. Saddles that had plenty of clearance in the gullet at the pommel would still rub her withers toward the center of the saddle.

I went through countless saddles before I finally broke down and had one custom made for her. Amy’s movement improved considerably with the new saddle but she was still holding tension and progressively became more unhappy contact. She eventually became a hopelessly evasive snaky wiggle worm. Amy had passed her prepurchase exam with flying colors but I had her teeth and hocks rechecked by a different veterinarian anyway. A third veterinarian likewise could not find anything wrong with Amy’s teeth or hocks but after watching Amy move and palpating her neck, she suspected that Amy had had a serious neck injury and recommended that I take her to Davis for x-rays. The x-rays revealed moderate arthritis in two places in Amy’s neck. The Doctors said that at one time Amy must have been in some kind of fall where she had landed on her neck. They also said what I had most dreaded to hear – that "dressage" work and "collection" would most likely do more damage to Amy's neck in the long run due to the neck contortions and "headset" now commonly associated with dressage. I contacted Amy’s previous owner and asked her if she knew how Amy had gotten hurt. As it turned out, she and Amy had taken a summersault but the previous owner had no idea that Amy had been injured because she herself had been knocked unconscious and broke her arm and had not ridden Amy since. When the previous owner found out that Amy was no longer able to be a riding horse she agreed to buy Amy back as a broodmare.

There is a saying that once you sell a horse you should never go back to see it. Well, after three months I went to visit Amy and when I saw her I just HAD to buy her back. I got my trailer and check book and brought her home with the intent on retiring her to pasture.

Amy returns home! 

Amy stood in pasture for almost two years until one day I needed to prepare for an upcoming clinic.

I planned on just riding Amy around on the buckle but she had punctured her cheek right where the cheek piece of the bridle would go. I ended up having to ride her in her halter. As it turns out, the small puncture was a blessing in disguise! Amy allowed me to pick up a steady contact with the reins attached to the halter.

I had moved to a new area (another blessing in disguise) and subsequently discovered a wonderful veterinarian, Dr. Betty Nunes, DVM. I asked Dr. Nunes over the phone why Amy’s arthritis would be a problem with a bridle but not a halter. She said that Amy’s reaction sounded more like a response to dental problems than a response  to the arthritis in her neck. Sure enough, when the Doctor examined Amy's mouth she found a number of sharp points which had previously gone undetected. She also noticed that a bit would cause Amy’s excessively thick lips to moosh into the rough surface on the front edges of her teeth so the Doctor gave Amy bit seats. Dr. Nunes also recommended changing Amy’s hoof angles. A slightly more upright angle made breaking over easier for Amy and relieved her neck. The arthritis is still there but because the classical approach to dressage allows the horse its natural, balance-based head and neck carriage (as opposed to the popular trend of forcing the horse’s neck into unnatural positions), dressage can be practiced without damaging her neck further.

It has taken several months to regain Amy’s trust in contact but she now confidently offers contact and is progressing by leaps and bounds!

May 2008

Amy was taken to U.C. Davis after repeated bouts of colic and diagnosed with a very serious ulcer. After 3 months of medication and hand walking, Amy made a full recovery.

Amy is now helping to demonstrate some classical concepts in video. Here is her first endeavor: http://www.ridingart.com/energy_flow.htm

September 2008

Now that Amy is comfortable, she can transition smoothly from 'walk on the buckle' to contact. Click on the photo below to play video (or click here )


Amy is now moving more freely and relaxed than ever and we finally have a solid foundation on which to build. Click on the photo below to see a video sample of Amy starting back into work (or click here)

July 2009

Transitions from Medium Walk to Free Walk to Medium Walk. Click on the photo below to see video of walk transitions (or click here).

Notice, when watching this video, that Amy is relaxed and working throughout her body. The contact remains neutral. My elbows follow the motion of the bit. Amy's  head position is natural. There is no backward, 'sawing' action or downward pressure on the bit to 'get her head down'. Amy's acceptance of the contact is a result of relaxation, rhythm, alignment and energy flow.

August 2009

Amy has been getting more and more uncomfortable with contact. She also had sores in her ears due to fly gnats and was shaking her ears quite a bit. The vet was out and was able to get Amy comfortable again.



September 2009

Amy seems more comfortable than ever and is progressing nicely again.  Video of her most recent work can be seen by clicking on the filmstrip below:






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last updated October, 2009