Classical Training Methods Mean Less Injuries

Classical training is key to sustaining optimum performance in horses.  When classical methods are not used, injuries can occur.  Dr. Nancy Nicholson has written a book called “Biomechanical Riding, a Dressage Rider’s Atlas” available at In addition to lots of scientific data, she includes Gymnastic Curriculum, Independent Seat illustrations, Anatomy and Function of Dressage Gaits and Sustaining a Gymnastic Foundation. I highly recommend this book for all dressage trainers and riders!

In the book she details the points of injury consistently found on horses worked round, low and deep (hyperflexed). These points of injury include chronic irritation of the nuchal ligament where it attaches to the skull.  Calcification can also occur at this location after the point of injury. In addition, chronic irritation after tissue degeneration can occur at the naviculuar area, suspensory ligament attachments and in the shoulder.

Another wonderful website featuring lots of great biomechanical illustrations is It is worth spending a lot of time on this website, since virtually every sentence is a gem. I would recommend the sections on rollkur, and behind the vertical ( as well as the information about draw reins (

In addition, German researchers have studied 60 competition horses’ head and neck positions and ascertained from body language whether or not they were comfortable. Horses ridden behind the vertical or overly flexed longitudinaly were unhappy athletes, a violation of the USDF’s regulations. See more at “Head and Neck Position’s Effects on Horse Behavior Studied” By Christa Lesté-Lasserre • Jan 16, 2013 • Article #31214

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