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  • Jennie Kaminski

Arya's Journey - Starting a New Training Block



Welcome to Arya's Journey! I will admit, the concept of starting this blog came to me as I was in the middle of the featured rehab session. So please bare with me as I work out the kinks of figuring out how to best share her journey in this blog. I will admit, I am not a talented writer & my media skills are lack luster, but hopefully, you will find some nuggets of inspiration from our journey!


For those of you that are unfamiliar with Arya's condition, please see our "Why" video.


The reason why I am jumping into this head first is because I am starting a brand new training block with Arya & we will be doing a lot of "firsts". I have been a big believer in using ground poles in my training, but I will admit, my ability to properly plan the layout has been a challenge. However, with anything in life, you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone to grow. Many of the ground pole exercises that will be shown in this series are from the book 55 Corrective Exercises for Horses by Jec Aristotle Ballou. My plan is to show you how I introduce & incorporate some of these exercises with Arya. I expect there to be many learning experiences for both us during this journey. However, the goal is to find improvements along the way.


On to this week's sessions....


I board Arya at a beautify & active facility that has some of the equipment needed to execute most of the exercises displayed in the Jec's book, although some exercises did need to be modified. I will try to notate the modifications I made & why during this series. I feel it is important to share that, even if you are at a boarding facility, you can still find ways to add exercises like these to our training.


With that being said, the indoor arena has 4 wooden poles & 4 jump blocks that can be adjusted to a few different heights. Because I was limited to 4 poles, I only setup one ground pole layout at a time. Additionally, because the indoor arena is smaller, I didn't want to take up too much room in case another boarder wanted to utilize the space as well. If another boarder had came in during this session, I would have taken a few moments to discuss their training plan to ensure that we are both successful in our endeavors.


The Warm-Up:


A proper warm-up is extremely important & helps prepare your horse for the exercises ahead. It is even more important if your horse is stalled, like Arya is. I try to vary my warm-ups to avoid boredom. In this video, I show how I might evaluate Arya's range of motion both with lateral neck movement as well as leg yielding. This gives me a good idea of where she is starting for the day.


The Fan Variation:


Due to the size of the jumping blocks, I was not able to get the spacing exactly as prescribe in Jac's book. The raised portion of the pole is supposed to be about 1 foot apart, however, in the video its closer to 1.5-2 feet apart. You will also see that I made adjustments to the height of the raised portion of the poles to try to make the exercise easier for Arya. I want this to be challenging, but doable for her.


The purpose of this exercise is to work the extensor & flexor muscle chains for an increased body-wide symmetry. This layout targets the thoracic sling, stifle muscles & pelvis stability. I know the layout looks & sounds simple, but it is deceptively challenging.


The Downward Transitions:


Spinal stability & healthy use of the back muscles are pivotal to overall balance. Downward transitions at a long & low neck posture is an excellent way to open the spacing between the vertebrae and relieve pressure in the lumbar region. In the video, I am demonstrating this exercise while ground driving. It is important to note that Arya has been ground driving since she was 2 years old. This exercise can be executed with a rider as well.


In the video, I am encouraging a working trot to walk transitions. As much as possible, I prefer to work on straight lines rather than circles. Circles are great for bending & roundness, but I feel they are over used & most horses need to really learn how to move out forward with straightness. I do understand that ground driving in straight lines at a trot requires the handler to pickup the pace as well. Trust me, I get my workout in with these types of exercises!


The Snake Variation:


The purpose of this variation is to strengthen the pelvic stabilizing muscles and encourage the horse to activate their thoracic sling muscles. When performed properly the horse this pole work will promote better symmetry in the fore-front movement.


This is another deceptively challenging pole variation that appears far simpler than it actually is. The goal is to cross the pole at an angle every time. Watching Arya's video, you can see that she has a tendency to cross the pole straight one & struggles with bending her body at the change of directions.


After Session Bodywork:


I plan on making individual videos of the stretching protocol I am using with Arya that breaks down each stretch individually. So please bare with me as I try to get those instructional videos taped & uploaded.


Stretching is EXTREMELY important & it should be the cornerstone of every horse's weekly routine. Personally, I prefer more dynamic stretches in my warm-up, such as leg yielding & basic ground poles to encourage lengthen the stride & lifting the legs. I utilize more static stretches, such as carrot stretches, after the initial warm-up & part of the cool down process.


Kinesiology Taping:


I recently took an advanced k-taping class through Angel's Holistic Animal Studies & the instructor of the course is the founder of Hestaband, Christa Veinotte. She specializes in rehab specific kinesiology tapings. After rewatching the course twice, I decided to email her for ideas on additional taping protocols I could do with Arya. I was looking for additional guidance regarding Arya's head tilt & how I can best address it. I have done numerous applications to address this issue biomechanically, however Christa's suggestion was to take a step back & address the lower neck circulation and fascia before moving forward to the biomechanical applications I was doing. So below is an example of what application I applied to just the left side of Arya's neck.





Disclaimer: Equine massage & kinesiology tape services are NOT a substitute for veterinary care. These services are complimentary modalities. I am NOT a licensed veterinarian & can not diagnose or treat any illness or injury. However, I am happy to work with your veterinarian & encourage collaboration among equine professionals.

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