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Frequently Asked Questions

 
 

Q.

What is Healthy Stride™?

 
 

A.

Healthy Stride is the study and application of correct equine posture balance and biomechanics. It is the key to achieving fluid movement through balancing and leveling the horse's body.

Beginning with an evaluation of the horse's posture and balance, adjustments are made through trimming or shoeing that maximize your horse's athleticism with the goal of long-term soundness. Gaits are improved, muscle memory is changed and new musculature is developed.

The ultimate goal of Healthy Stride is to achieve the state of Zero Balance™. When correctly aligned and posturally balanced, the horse's weight is equally distributed left to right on both the fore- and hindquarters.

Through our work with thousands of horses of all discliplines and breeds, we have found that attitudinal problems, impulsiveness and willingness to go forward are affected positively by aligning the back end of the horse. Likewise, balancing the front end seems to allow the horse to perform his best for each rider request with quicker response, more accurate movement and increased athleticism.

It's not about the feet, it is about balancing the whole horse and allowing fluid and free-flowing movement.



 
 

Q.

How do you use the Healthy Stride Evaluation Guide and where can I get one?

 
 

A.

The Healthy Stride Evaluation Guide is an excellent visual tool that allows you, the horse owner to note the postural changes that occur during the shoeing/trimming cycle.

When you notice that your horse is moving better (or worse) than usual, the guide enables you to record when and where the horse's body differs from previous evaluations. Using the information gathered from the guide, you and your farrier/trimmer can make decisions on how to best balance your horse. And remember to always shoe or trim the horse according to the results of the evaluation, not the way they were trimmed or shod at an earlier date.

It is easiest to evaluate your horse if you have someone to help you either mark the guide or handle and walk the horse. Using this "partner" method, you can discuss and analyze the horse, come to a consensus and both of you will sharpen your eye towards equine biomechanics.

Stand the horse square on a flat, firm surface. Pay close attention to whether the horse's head and neck are straight. Following the steps in the guide, mark the position of the mane and tail.

Using a stool, stand behind the horse to view and compare the height of the withers. Also from behind, note whether the horse has a lower or more undeveloped slope of the rump or if it is even.

You should be able to site a straight line from the tail, through the withers and on up to the poll between the ears. Make a note if this is not the case.

Next, have your horse handler walk the horse in a straight line to and from you and make note of the rib position, footfalls landing more to the inside or outside, etc. as in the illustrations and record all of the steps as you see them.

Your farrier and you can then decide how to best shoe or trim your horse to balance his posture. To learn more about how to apply the findings of the Evaluation Guide, we welcome you to attend a clinic near you. Please check our clinic schedule on the right hand side of the page. Many horse owners and farriers have enjoyed and learned from the open dialogue that this guide presents and horses are being helped in the process!

You can download the guide by clicking here. You will need Adobe Acrobat to open and print the file.

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Q.

I’ve been watching and studying the new Healthy Stride DVD. Together with my farrier and vet, I have been working to solve my horse’s lameness that started with a relatively minor injury. Both my farrier and vet have mentioned compensation and I would like to know more about how it relates to lameness.

 
  A. Thank you so much for your video purchase and we are honored and pleased that your veterinarian, farrier and you have begun to solve your horse’s problems.

The dictionary definition of compensation is: to serve as, or provide a substitute or counterbalance.

Compensation begins when a horse suffers from inflammation associated with an injury or shoeing and transfers weight from the injured leg to its counterpart -- the non-injured leg. The injured leg’s muscles begin to atrophy from reduced use whereas the “sound” leg through compensation --  becomes “overused.” In a period of time, this leg can become lame.

We can also explain compensation by using a mathematical example. Hypothetically, we will start with a horse that weighs 1000 lbs. carrying 60% (600 lbs.) on his forehand and the other 40% (400 lbs.) on his hindquarters. Broken down equally, each front leg would bear 300 lbs. and each hind, 200 lbs. As a result of trauma, the horse begins to carry more weight on the sound leg in compensation -- adding to its normal load. If the horse transfers as little as 25% (75 lbs. on the front end), to the normal load of 300 lbs., the horse is thrown out of balance and is bearing 375 lbs. on one leg and 225 lbs. on the other when standing still.

If you add the weight of a well-balanced 200 lb. rider sitting in the proper position, 100 more pounds are added to the sound leg. It now bears 475 lbs. (59% of the normal load of the front end), while the injured leg is only carrying 325 lbs. or 41%. If this same horse and rider were to jump, the horse would be landing with the total weight of 1200 lbs. divided unequally on his 2 front legs, 750 on one and 450 on the other — that is 2.5 times more weight than the leg is supposed to carry or 25% more than the whole front end’s regular weight.  When the horse is in motion, the unequal force of impact is multiplied, adding stress to the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. According to racing research, the horse at full speed hits the ground with as much as 10,000 lbs per square inch on one 6” wide hoof. All the more reason to have the horse in as perfect balance as you can!

Biomechanically speaking, the hoof capsule begins to change, the muscles, tendons, ligaments and eventually bones, begin to lose integrity and undergo great stress, causing lameness due to compensation.

With Healthy Stride, the horse’s posture is rebalanced, helping muscles to recover and cartilage to begin regenerating. Along with renewed posture and proper rest, the horse is on his way to recovering from this compensatory lameness using his natural ability to heal. By restoring equal weight distribution to the limbs, the horse is aided in returning to his pre-injured state more quickly.
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