Once again horses are important staff in an historic and ceremonial event. How do they select these special carriage horses for such a demanding day of service? The Daily Mail Reporter announces that eleven Greys from the London police department have been chosen for their calm temperament and grey color. They have served as police horses working at many public and ceremonial events. Not only are they skilled at drawing the carriage, but each one demonstrates a cool head among crowds, noise and waving flags, and they show off their matching grey color.
Meet the chosen eleven carriage horses:
Fulham - aged 14 is 16.1 hands
Gladstone – aged 14 is 16.1 hands
Annabel – aged 21 is 16 hands
Jackson – aged 9 is 16.2 hands
Belsize – aged 17 is 18 hands
Isaac – aged 10 is 17.3 hands
Benjamin – aged 16 is 16 hands
Dragoon – aged 16 is 16.2 hands
Grace – aged 11 is 16.2 hands
Boris – aged 17 is 16.2 hands
Huntsman – aged 14 is 17 hands
For more photos and descriptions of these beautiful carriage horses click here to view the Daily Reporter article.
View this video and learn how staff prepare horses for the royal wedding.
Enjoy the beauty of the horses and the celebrations on this special royal wedding day.
Happy Healthy Trails
I remember the glorious rhythmic trot that my first horse Em had. She was a Quaterhorse Morgan cross whose trot was so easy to ride. When we were out on the trail, I settled into an easy post and felt as though I could ride for hours. It was the smooth rhythm of her trot that kept us going and going and going. In my previous posts Keep Time With Your Body’s Natural Rhythm, Discover The Best Anti Aging Practice, and Hippotherapy: Wellness With the Movement of a Horse, I talked about the significance of movement and rhythm to our health and wellness.
In this video, Oliver Sacks, a physician and professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Centre, describes rhythm as the force that animates us and compels us to move with the beat. He also tells us that rhythm has a strong bonding effect on us.
In celebration of the people of the village of Baro, Guinea, Africa, Thomas Roebers and Floris Leeuwenberg produced a beautiful example of the power of rhythm in this video. They describe rhythm as:
Life has a rhythm, it’s constantly moving.
The word for rhythm ( used by the Malinke tribes ) is FOLI.
It is a word that encompasses so much more than drumming, dancing or sound.
It’s found in every part of daily life.
In this film you not only hear and feel rhythm but you see it.
It’s an extraordinary blend of image and sound that
feeds the senses and reminds us all
how essential it is. T. Roebers and F Leeuwenberg
The Rhythm of Horse Gaits is a Key Ingredient in Helping You to Keep Moving.
The compelling nature of rhythm explains why dressage, quadrilles, and musical rides are so beautiful to watch.
Whenever you can, notice the rhythm of your horse. Count the beats of their strides.
Practice being synchronized with your horse’s rhythm.
Include music when you ride in the arena and pay attention to how you feel about moving with your horse and the music. Do you become more animated? Are you compelled to keep moving? Is moving more fun when others join in your musical ride? How does rhythm influence the bond you have with your horse.
The Breyer Model Horse Registry website created a chart of descriptions and animations of many horse gaits. Click here to view their chart.
Keep moving with the rhythm of horse gaits and stay well.
Happy Healthy Trails
For many of us, riding promotes wellness because it is a great way to exercise and the rhythmic motion is relaxing. For others who have difficulty with balance, coordination, posture and muscle strength, the motion of a horse can be part of an overall medical treatment plan. Since the 1960’s Physio, Occupational, and Speech Therapists have used the rhythm and natural motion of horses as a treatment strategy for many patients with disabilities. This specialized therapy is Hippotherapy.
How Does Hippotherapy Work?
Equine movement provides 3 dimensional movement that is rhythmic and similar to the movement we experience when we walk.
- The movement of the horse provides riders with the same kind of neuromuscular sensory input they would receive if they were walking.
- The response of the rider’s body to this neuromuscular sensory input improves muscle strength, coordination, posture and balance.
- Therapists use this response to sensory input as a foundation for their overall therapeutic plan.
How Does Hippotherapy Improve Health and Wellness?
With improved muscle strength, coordination, balance and posture riders can:
- sit, stand and walk
- improve breathing and speech through stronger diaphragm, chest and abdominal muscles and correct posture
- accomplish independent daily activities such as bathing, feeding, and dressing
- increase range of play and recreational activities
With the opportunity to create a relationship with a horse, riders can:
- experience a sense of belonging and improve their self-esteem
- experience unconditional emotional support from a horse
How Does Hippotherapy Differ From Therapuetic Horseback Riding or Equine Assisted Therapy?
- Hippotherapy is a particular treatment strategy used by licensed medical professionals. These medical professionals use the movement of the horse to improve the patient’s function.
- Danielle Champagne, an occupational therapist and CanTRA and NARHA therapist, provides a description and chart that outlines the difference between therapeutic horseback riding and hippotherapy. Click here to view
- There are many terms used for equine therapies, which creates confusion. To decrease confusion, the Horse and Human Research Foundation provides a description of several different terms used.
Recognizing and Promoting the Role of the Horse?
To promote the benefits we experience through this type of therapy and to ensure horses receive deserved recognition we can:
- Conduct and promote research that evaluates the horses’ physical and emotional response to their work
- Recognize therapy horses
In this 4 minute video, staff at ‘Miracles in Motion’ describe Hippotherapy and its role in improving health and wellness.
Resources for Hippotherapy
Anderson, D. (2010) Equine Assisted Interventions: Bibliography
Federation of Riding For The Disabled International
This federation assists in developing high quality equine assisted therapy activities throughout the world. They create links between countries and centers and offer an annual scientific publication. Every 3 years they sponsor an international congress for therapeutic riding. Click here to browse their website.
American Hippotherapy Association
Through the use of research, education and the promotion of standards, medical professionals promote the use of the movement of the horse to improve patients’ function. Click here to browse their website.
North American Riding for the Handicapped Association
Through this non-profit organization, certified instructors and members promote equine assisted therapy for individuals with special needs. They achieve this through education, research, the promotion of standards, the certification of instructors, and the accreditation of therapy centers. Click here to browse their website.
Canadian Therapeutic Riding Association CanTRA
This registered charity promotes achievement for children and adults through the therapeutic, sport and recreational use of horses. They promote quality standards and education for instructors and therapy centres in Canada. Click here to browse their website.
Happy Healthy Trails
Movement is Our Best Anti Aging Practice
Horses certainly know that if they keep moving they stay well. They travel long distances every day to find food and graze. This constant movement not only finds them food, but increases circulation, strengthens muscles, and improves flexibility and digestion. One researcher in Virginia found that horses travelled an average of 4–5 miles per day at an average speed of 0.2 miles per hour while grazing. Click here to view a summary of the research. In terms of speed, the American Quarter Horse has been timed at 50 mph. For horses, moving fast means survival. They know that if they keep moving they stay well.
Keep Moving and Keep Well
30 years ago, when I started nursing, patients spent the first few days or even weeks in bed after surgery. This lack of movement frequently caused serious complications such as pneumonia, blood clots and slow wound healing. With new technology, more sophisticated surgical techniques, and knowledge about the cause of complications, patients now spend little time in bed. In fact, it is a priority to get people up and moving as quickly as possible.
Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, controlling blood sugar, enhancing the immune system, relieving constipation, improving bone strength, and decreasing pain are just some of the ways that movement improves health and wellness. Movement is so significant to health and wellness that national public health departments created physical activity strategies such as ‘ParticipAction’ and ‘Exercise is Medicine’. We know that if we keep moving we stay well.
Researchers Discover Physical Activity Is The Best Anti Aging Remedy at Any Age
Researchers from McMaster University found that mice that exercised 45 minutes 3 times a week experienced ‘huge recovery’ in age-related damage in every tissue analyzed. The authors refer to the results as “unprecedented anti aging effects”. After observing the results of their study, these researchers say “it’s never too late to start exercising”. Click here to read the news article.
We do not have to ride endurance races, run marathons or participate in competitive sports; we just have to keep moving to stay well, and it is never too late to start.
A Few Tips to Increase Your Physical Activity With Horses
- Know your limitations. Do not push yourself too hard and too fast. Enjoy yourself. Consult a physician if you have never exercised and plan to start an exercise routine.
- Choose something you like to do in a place that you like with people you like.
- Start slowly with small activities and increase gradually. Be realistic. You know what works for you. 10 minutes every day is a good place to start.
- Include others in your plan to keep moving, but avoid comparing yourself to others. Use your plan to keep moving as an opportunity to socialize or celebrate your move toward wellness. Make a game out of your plan.
- Get off and walk your horse an extra few times around the arena or stable yard before and after your training activities. The walk is good for your horse too.
- Instead of a training day, walk beside your horse or trot them. Enjoy the time together; you will be creating a good relationship with your horse.
- When you are grooming your horse, use it as an opportunity to stretch. Exaggerate your reach and your bend.
- Give your horse a firm massage.
- If you are on the trail, get off and walk. Walking uphill is great exercise.
- Add a few relaxed turns around and across the arena, or add an extra 15 minutes to your trail ride.
- Try Yoga With Horses
- If you are planning aerobic exercise, you might want to calculate your target heart rate. This heart rate zone is the most effective target for improving your fitness and burning calories. Click here to calculate your target heart rate.
- Remember my post in January ‘6 Easy Steps to Develop A Relationship With Your Horse. If you do not succeed the first time, it is the ‘try’ that counts.
Experience some of the ways in which we constantly move when we are on and off our horses. Take a few minutes to watch Stina Herberg and Farah DeJohnette integrate the best of the Carolyn Resnick Method of Horse Training and Yoga. Enjoy the possibilities for you and your horse and watch ‘Yoga and Rituals for Riding’.
Practice the Best Anti Aging Strategy: Keep Moving
Resources to Improve Your Physical Activity
2011 Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines: For Youth
Newly released guidelines based in current research that provide youth with guidelines to improve their daily physical activity. Click here to view the guidelines.
2011 Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines: For Adults
Newly released guidelines based in current research that provide adults with guidelines to improve their daily physical activity. Click here to view the guidelines. Click here to view Older Adult Guidelines
Exercise Is Medicine: United States National Physical Activity Strategy
This website contains research information, resources and helpful tips to include physical activity as a natural and easy part of your daily routine. Click Here to browse the website.
ParticipAction: Canada’s National Physical Activity Strategy
This website contains research reports and information on the benefits of movement. You will find many tips and resources to increase and enjoy daily exercise. Click here to browse the website.
Purves, L. (2006). Horse and Rider Fitness: The Essential Guide For All Riders
As a qualified personal fitness trainer with extensive experience in equine sports, Linda Purves offers practical, effective, home based exercises. The book contains illustrations and simple, short exercise plans that are realistic for anyone with a busy lifestyle. Her programs and advice are suitable for riders of all ages and in all disciplines. This book is considered the definitive guide to horse and rider fitness. Click here to view or purchase this book.
Happy Healthy Trails
For the first few years I had my horses, I learned a lot about their natural habits. In many aspects of their lives there is a natural rhythm. I notice that they love to nap at a certain time of day, and that they shed or grow their coats at a certain time of year. All living organisms experience these natural rhythms in response to the cycle of light and dark and to the 4 seasons. They are called circadian rhythms or the biological clock. These rhythms influence many of our biological functions. Natural rhythm is also in the beat of our breath and heartbeat, a simple one – two rhythm. Keeping time with the rhythm keeps us alive and well.
When I am working on my partnership with my horses on the ground and in the saddle I pay close attention to and move with their movements, their gaits, and my own movements and body position. When I move in time with them, whatever we are doing seems to flow much easier. We are relaxed and connected. It is the same feeling I get when watching a group of horses move in rhythm. There is a natural beat. There is ease and grace in all horses’ gaits. And when they all move together, they flow as a unit, synchronized and without effort. If I watch long enough, I relax and feel connected to their movement. Their rhythm captivates and entices me.
Health and Wellness in Your Body’s Natural Circadian Rhythms
Keeping time with your natural rhythm or biological clock is an important step in creating health and wellness. These natural rhythms affect how and when we sleep, how and when hormones are released, our body’s temperature, our digestive system and much more.
If we are in sync with our circadian rhythms and move with our body, we connect with our body and are able to allow its natural functions. We move through the day easier. We are to our bodies like a herd of horses moving together in time with ease and grace.
Learn About Circadian Rhythms
Click here for the Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet
Study The Chart
Now Take The Quiz
Click here to take the circadian rhythms quiz
Where Can You Start To Keep Time With Your Body?
As you can see from the circadian rhythms chart, most of our body’s functions respond to the cycle of light and dark. One of the most common effects is the effect on our sleep cycle. You can begin to keep time with your body’s natural cycle by connecting with your sleep cycle.
- First determine if you are a morning or an evening person. Click here to take the Daily Circadian Rhythms Test
- Plan your day to allow for your dips and rise in energy. Do your best to time your high and low activities in sync with your natural rhythm.
- Create a routine and be consistent with bedtime and rising time
- Honor what feels natural and what feels good
As you start to plan your day in time with your natural rhythm, you will begin to feel connected to your own body and its natural cycle. You will sleep better, feel relaxed, have more energy, and be more effective through the day.
Four talented Norwegian Women, Maria, Marte, Victoria and Ane known as ‘mmva007′ on youtube, created this video of horses moving in rhythm. Watch and experience the horses’ gaits and their ease and grace as they move in rhythm and in sync. Watch how captivating natural rhythm can be.
Resources For Circadian Rhythms and the Sleep Cycle
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
- Click here for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and information and resources about sleep medicine
- Click here for information, videos, and brochures about the significance of sleep and your sleep cycles. Sleepeducation.com
Canadian Sleep Society
- Click here for the Canadian Sleep Society and information, brochures, videos and common questions and answers about sleep.
Foster, R. & Kreitzman, L. (2005). Rhythms of Life: The Biological Clocks that Control the Daily Lives of Every Living Thing.
- In this book, the authors offer you a comprehensive discussion about circadian rhythms and the role they play in our lives. They review common problems we have with these cycles and the harmful impact our 24/7 lifestyle has on our natural body rhythms. Click here to view or purchase the book
Health in a 24 Hour Society
- This is a research article published in 2001 in Lancet, a prestigious medical journal. The authors describe the harmful effects that a 24/7 lifestyle has on our health and our economy Click here to access the research article.
Happy Healthy Trails
I have lost count of how many times I have read this poem. Each time I read it, the wonderful feelings of trail riding in a forest are recreated. In her poem, Pulitzer Prize poet Mary Oliver captures the images and feelings experienced while in a forest. She expresses so beautifully what Japanese researchers found in their studies about ‘forest bathing’, (see my blog post ‘Accomplish Health Promotion Practice While Trail Riding’). She also expresses what I am sure most of us experience if we are lucky enough to go trail riding in a forest. With the images and feelings these words create, she affirms that forests really do have a positive effect on our health and wellness. I wonder how Mary Oliver would express the experience of riding a horse through a forest. I know there are many trail riders out there who could create their own prize winning images of the essence of ‘forest bathing’ and its effects on our health and wellness.
Sleeping in the Forest
I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the riverbed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms breathing around me,
the insects, and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom. By morning I had vanished
at least a dozen times into something better. Mary Oliver
Happy Healthy Trails
In my previous blog ‘Accomplish Health Promotion Practice While Trail Riding’ researchers showed different ways that being in a forest influences our health and wellness. They call ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ forest bathing and are excited by its positive effects. If trail riding is one way that we experience the positive effects of the forest, being prepared and being safe is the only way to reap the benefits for ourselves and our horses. As experienced or novice trail riders, there is always a lot to think about and do before heading out on a trail. I always learn something new on each trail ride when I go with safety as a priority.
General Tips to Consider Before Trail Riding
- Consider your general fitness and your horse’s fitness
- Choose the right equipment for you and your horse
- Learn basic riding skills
Choose the Right Horse for Your Level of Experience
- Match your skill and confidence level with the horse’s
Choose an Experienced Guide
- Research the equine and outdoor skill and knowledge level of your guide
- Choose a certified and experienced guide
- Your guide or someone in the group need, at the least, basic first aid certification
Choose an Appropriate Trail
- Consider your skill, confidence, and physical and emotional confidence level when choosing a trail. Be honest and realistic.
- Wear a helmet
- Check and double check your equipment and your horse’s
- Know your limits and your horse’s limits
- Know the limits of horses and riders you are with
- Check the weather
- Notify someone of your ride plans
- Carry basic first aid and cell phone on your body, not on your horse. If there is no cell phone service consider other ways to call for assistance.
- Follow your guide’s rules and regulations
‘Leave No Trace’
- Consider the beautiful and fragile environment
- Be a steward of the environment
With a willingness to learn safe practices and a good relationship with your horse, trail riding can truly be a health promotion practice.
Resources For Health and Wellness While Trail Riding
40 tips For the Trail Rider by Lynn Palm
- With over 40 years of experience riding and training horses, Lynn Palm offers specific tips for a safe and fun trail ride.
Tips and Resources From Back Country Horsemen of B.C.
- Experts in the practice of back country riding created and organized this website. There are numerous free downloads on many trail riding topics. Click here for resources.
Safety on the Trail for You and Your Horse
- Download this free ‘Trail Ride Safety’ guide created by experts and professionals. Within the guide is an excellent article on keeping your horse safe and healthy while trail riding.
Leave no Trace: Centre for Outdoor Ethics
- This international organization provides programs and resources to assist you in being a responsible trail rider and in becoming a steward of the environment. There are many free downloads available. Click here for resources
Happy Healthy Trails
I am so fortunate to live where I live. I have access to some of the most beautiful trail riding country in the world. I have had the privilege of going on several trail rides with my Norwegian Fjord Aura. We have covered a few miles through pine, spruce and fir forests, through a few creeks, up and over some fairly steep terrain and just strolled along narrow trails and back country roads. I can honestly say that there has never been a ride that I did not enjoy. To ride along in the forest and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells is one of the most relaxing experiences I know. It also gives my horse and I a chance to connect, and it gives us the opportunity to practice some of the things we work on at home. We are still novice trail riders, but what a wonderful classroom. Not only am I learning about riding the trails, but I’m also learning about the potential that trail riding in the forests has to influence my own health and wellness.
Discover the Benefits of Trail Riding Through Forests
Knowing how wonderful I feel when I come home from a ride, I was not surprised when I came across an article about the concept of ‘Forest Bathing’. Forest Bathing or Shinrin-yoku is a term the Japanese use to describe ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’. They have been studying the effects that forests have on our health and wellness for several years and found surprising results. One study, in 2008, was conducted using field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. In each experiment, 12 subjects walked in and also viewed a forest or a city area. Several physiologic measurements were taken. Examples of some of the results include: lower concentrations of cortisol (a stress hormone), lower pulse rates and lower blood pressure. These results provide support for more research into the relationship between forests and human health and wellness and for the development of new strategies for preventive health and health promotion practice.
Combine the calming and beneficial effects of the bond we have with horses with the positive results of the forest bathing study, and you could say that trail riding through the forests is a very good way to accomplish health promotion practice. I often say to Aura as we are meandering along the mountain trail that there is much more going on than we can see. I hope she gets similar benefits to her own health and wellness.
The article, published in 2010 in the Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine Journal, describes the above 2008 study and several others on Forest Bathing. The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan.
If you want to explore the potential of the human and horse bond, Margrit Coates blends science with compassion to explore the astonishing capacity of this bond in her book Connecting with Horses: the Life Lessons We can Learn From Horses.
The recent exhibitions, The Horse, at the Canadian Museum of Civilization and at the Natural Museum of History are great sites for you to explore the evolution of the horse and the bond we share with these wonderful beings.
Happy Healthy Trails
There are so many health and wellness strategies available today that it is hard to choose one that works for us. We are flooded with so much information and so many approaches that finding ways to look after ourselves becomes frustrating, and getting results does not always happen.
What if you stumbled upon a different approach to being and feeling well?
What if your teacher and guide was a horse?
Seeing horses as healers is a successful approach used for many decades in therapeutic riding centers, but it is not only an approach reserved for those who have been diagnosed with a health problem. When we see horses as our guide and partner in finding the best in ourselves, we can achieve much more than we thought possible.
Elsie, a young woman from Norway, shows us her relationship with her Icelandic horse Taktur. She described her relationship and bond with Taktur as one that taught her about happiness and freedom and gave her some of life’s best experiences.
Consider your horse as your guide and your relationship as a path to health and wellness that works for you.
One of the biggest reasons I have horses is because I want to enjoy a positive, trusting partnership with them and spend time on the trails. Getting to this place means I have to learn about them, spend lots of time with them, and develop our partnership. Through trial and error and some frustrations, I’ve discovered one key ingredient. This key ingredient is found in ‘the try’. I recently read one horse trainer’s thoughts on ‘the try’. In his book, there is an entire chapter devoted to ‘finding the try’. He describes the extremely subtle ways that horses communicate a try and how easy it is for us to miss the message when we train a horse. Sometimes a try is so subtle it is not much more than a feeling. He also describes the challenges we create when we do not appreciate ‘the try’. Often we expect too much too soon, missing the joy of success and connection.
So, I slowed down and started to pay close attention to my horses’ slightest try, and I made that try worthy of an Olympic celebration. My horses’ responses were heart-warming. Their eyes widened with surprise and gratitude, they softened, and it took far less time to move forward. Horses really do respond to us when we are genuinely happy, relaxed, and appreciative. Our progress is slow because of our inexperience, but it is no longer like “molasses in January”. My horses are more willing to try something new and I believe they are gaining confidence and trust in me. It’s a lot more fun too. Everything stops for a moment when we savour the Olympic celebration and our connection.
Your Health and Wellness Plan is Like Training a Horse
I think similar feelings of frustration occur in our own lives when our effort or our own ‘try’ is not noticed. Maybe we made an effort at home, with our families, or for ourselves and those around us do not notice, or our ‘try’ is dismissed by our inner critic. Our tries begin to feel to us like what we do is ‘never enough’. These feelings do not encourage willingness in us to give more, try again, or to trust that we appreciate ourselves or that we are appreciated. I would not want my horses to feel like this and I can understand their frustration when their try is not noticed. I can see how challenges appear when we train a horse.
In his book “Horses Never Lie”, Mark Rashid tells us that “Very often it is those simple little things that are at the very heart of the big things that we look to get from them (horses), but because we look right past them, we never even know they’re there.”
Creating New Year’s resolutions and not succeeding is a good example of how we expect ‘the big try’ and then criticize ourselves when our try does not lead to immediate results. We ignore our more subtle try and do not see it as success. Developing a relationship with another species is good practice for us to learn to expect a little less from ourselves, appreciate our efforts more, and find a more positive approach to our own ‘try’. If we practice this approach in our own health and wellness plan, we create better feelings about our efforts to be well, and we succeed more often.
Your Health and Wellness Plan: 6 Steps to Notice and Appreciate Your ‘Try’
Think about your ‘try’ as a chance to develop your partnership with wellness.
- Imagine yourself as the leader of your own health and wellness
Choose only one small change; do not be too specific so that you give yourself room to succeed.
- For example, one small change could be: I will drink more water
Give yourself lots of time, do not expect too much too fast.
- In 3 months, I will drink more water every day
Find lots of resources that make your change easier.
- Have a water bottle on your desk at work. Choose a bottle that you like, that is comfortable to hold, and easy to fill
- Keep a full fresh glass of water in your kitchen, bedroom, and living room
- Put lemon or lime slices in your water
Create an encouraging mantra/saying, repeat it over and over.
- 60-70% of my body weight is water
- My body loves water. I love drinking water
- I help my kidneys do their work when I drink more water
- Drinking more water makes me more energetic and my skin softer
- I feel better when I drink more water
Celebrate each ‘try’ as a move forward even if it does not feel worthy of an Olympic celebration. Celebrate anyway.
- Celebrate even when you drink ½ glass of water
- Celebrate even if you thought about drinking more water
- Celebrate when your glass is emptied
- Keep celebrating
Soon you will notice and appreciate your ‘try’, and you will want to try more often. The best part is that you will have celebrated often. Change becomes fun as you develop a partnership with your own health and wellness.