Thoughts regarding Art2Ride
Art2Ride has gained many more followers over the recent years, which is amazing. Several people have realized the benefits with this way of training their horses. Unfortunately, more followers also mean that more critics are beginning to keep an eye on us.
I've seen pictures comparing a horse that stretches all the way to the ground with a horse that is being ridden in roll kur, under the heading "why go from one evil to another".
In my world one can not force a horse to go in a deep position with the head in front of the vertical. If the horse work in a long, low and forward frame, the reins has to be very long. The horse will at any time be able to lift its head before the rider can react with the rein. With roll kur, the horse is ridden behind the vertical with a short rein. That is, if it tries to lift its head, it will meet resistance from the reins. I can not see the comparison.
I have also been made aware of that the horses stumble more when they work in a deep frame compared to when they go higher. I have tried to observe my 4 horses regarding this recently. Of course, I can not say anything in general, but my horses do not stumble either more or less depending on their head carriage. They stumble when I start missing gravel in the arena and they stumble when they get unconcentrated. Or if they go from being excited to suddenly relax.
For those who have done this work in 1,5 to 2 years, one can suddenly doubt if it is correct to let the horse stretch all the way down to the ground. This doubt is due to the fact that the horses have now become stronger. They can now move more actively, even in a higher position. But this does not mean that you should not ask them to stretch deeper from time to time. Like us, they need to stretch the whole body.
The first year (or 2) with this training, you are happy when the horse stretch to the ground. The horse almost just throws its head towards the ground when it finally finds its a pleasant way to move. Later in the training, it will stretch the head and neck more out and forward. Simply because it now has more muscles so that this is now possible. As a rider you have to get used to this new feeling. You suddenly have a completely different contact on the reins because the horse now naturally accepts and even seeks the contact on the rein.
Those who struggles with this form of training and think that the horses do not develop more are most often those who accept that the horse now goes higher and therefore does not do anything about it. You have to constantly watch the horse's back. If it does not develop and start lifting the back behind the saddle (where it is possible to see when there is a rider on) then something is wrong. And most often it's because you do not let the horse momentarily stretch deep enough.
When the horse is stronger, it will not go deeper than what it thinks is least strenuous. That is, we will have to ask it to stretch. And this is done easiest by asking for a yield. Mostly just a few steps, for example, through a corner, simply to remind it to keep stepping underneath itself and to take weight on the inside hind.
But now the horse is so strong that you can easily ride it in a higher position in between.
Another thing to keep in mind when criticizing how long and how deep we train our horses is that none of our horses work with the head close to the ground in 30 min. at a time. The horse will automatically lift the head from time to time. And no one can force it to put its head to ground again. We can try to show that path by positive reinforcement, but we will never be able to stretch a horse who is hurt or feeling uncomfortable unless we find the cause of its discomfort.
On the video below, you can see my horse Amaze, who has a kissing spine behind the wither, arthritis in the left hock and an injury in the left shoulder. If I tried to get this horse up in a higher position, one can almost imagine how she would sink even more in the area behind the wither. This is the only way I can make this horse stronger over time. With a horse like Amaze, it will probably take three to four years before you can see that her back starts to lift. This is really just a video I was doing at work because we had a quietly moment and I wanted to see if she was moving regularly when stretching.
These are just my thoughts and if someone thinks something else or have questions then you are always welcome to write to me.