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I’ve just returned from a clinic in Scandinavia and one of the interesting things was the breeds of horse we had on the clinic. We all know ever horse is different, everyone an individual etc and they all work in slightly different ways, but what was noticeable in this group was that we had a variety of pure-bred breeds of horse and the traits, movement and approaches to each breed really showed. Among the breeds on the clinic there were two Friesians, both good riding examples of the breed - by that i mean not too extreme in their shape and movement, a PRE, a Lipizzaner, and Knapstrap, an American Paint and a Quarter Horse. Sorry if I missed anyone out - it was a long travel back home!… On the one hand you can say ‘a horse is a horse is a horse,’ but the reality is, these breeds have been bred by different people over long periods of history for different purposes in different environments.

The quarter horse was bouncy, pinging around in lope with its broad hind-end doing what they were bred to do… it needs to be balanced-up, taken care of… and that needed a little help in the front, even on the loose western rein…

The Friesians had a big movement, striding with extravagant steps in trot and canter, not always that easy so sit on or to contain and guide because of the extent of movement. They also needed quite a bit of suppling behind. I guess in part the inclination of those horses is to drive forwards with their back legs pushing rather than carrying because at least in part they have been bred over the years as driving horses… they also needed a sensitive thoughtful hand on the reins since they may otherwise be tempted to go for the high neck position…

The PRE was young but nevertheless showed itself to be very quick to learn and in one situation was very calm and then was very hot, which of course is one of the nice things about a well trained older PRE, you get a good one and you get calm sensible and hot at the same time and that can feel pretty good.

The Lipizzaner was interesting and reminded me of the way they can be - I used to breed them - in that they’re not everyone’s ride… they are very intelligent, sensitive, like to look after themselves and are surprisingly powerful. Its no surprise they’re known for airs above ground… And to work with such an animal takes some knowledge, skill and dedication, but the rewards can be great…

I won’t go on about every horse on the clinic, surface to say its interesting to look at the breeds and their traits, what you’re likely to get… and its interesting to look at what breed different people choose for their horse… or does the horse choose us?!!!


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