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Book Review: ’55 Corrective Exercises For Horses’

By Jec Aristotle Ballou.

My current project, retraining my OTTB Jobber for use as a ranch horse, has challenged me as a horseman in a hundred different ways — from feeding programs to mental adjustments to the #TeamNoArena life to the training itself, it’s been a non-stop learning process that rejuvenated my horse life and rekindled my passion to always be improving. Being the person to transition a Thoroughbred from his track life to his working life is a responsibility I’m not taking lightly, and I’m constantly seeking new ideas and methods towards helping Jobber make that transition smoothly.

Which is why Jec Aristotle Ballou’s 55 Corrective Exercises For Horses is now filed under the “books I wish I had a year ago before I brought Jobber home” category. The good news is that it’s never, ever too late to start working new ideas into training!

For horsemen who work independently for long stretches of time between lessons to trainers and instructors looking for new tools to help the horses under their care, this book is invaluable, filled with specific exercises to help horses change their posture and movement patterns, plus both rehab and “pre-hab” from injury.

Too often, we as riders are guilty of training for our specific goal, whether that’s a certain fence height, a faster time or greater collection (among many such goals). While many of us also cross-train and let our horses relax with other work, including hacking out or trail riding plus turnout and days off, this downtime doesn’t necessarily address postural problems or existing problem patterns in the horse. Ballou’s book is designed to give riders the tools they need to help correct these problems. 55 Corrective Exercises For Horses also features a few guest-contributed exercises from Jim Masterson of the Masterson Method and Rachel Ory, champion reining and western dressage trainer.

I was fascinated to see how many exercises and tips I had seen or practiced before in various schools of training — not because I feel like I know what I’m doing already, but because I’m always interested to see how a particular horseman handles an exercise and for what reasons. I saw elements from TTeam training as well as exercises my current trainer is advising for some of the same corrections that Ballou describes.

With both ground work and mounted exercises, Ballou breaks the 55 exercises down into easily-digestible steps, organized by type of work (corrective, postural, bodywork for bad habits, groundwork and daily exercises). Like many exercise-based books of its type, this is not the kind of book you should expect to sit down and read cover-to-cover, but it IS the kind of book that should find its way to the tack room or barn office bookshelf to serve as a reference. 55 Corrective Exercises For Horses can help put more tools at the rider’s disposal to keep our horses performing their best.

55 Corrective Exercises For Horses is available through Trafalgar Square.

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