I would like to share a short training video of my Lusitano stallion Venturoso. Venturoso has come to me as a rehabilitation horse. He suffers from high anxiety and severe separation anxiety. He is a high spirited horse of proud bullfighter lineage. A Bullfighting horse is in origin a warrior horse, it is bred for bravery, agility, intelligence and strong fighting spirit. This type of horse is certainly not for the amateur rider. This is also not a horse that can be forced to parade under its rider like a puppet on strings… Once pushed to far this horse will become uncontrollably explosive.
Sadly this excellent type of horse is often misunderstood and ends up labelled difficult and dangerous, even though for the skilled trainer they are the easiest to connect with. However, once ruined it will take time for this horse to regain full trust in a human partnership
To regain trust in a true partnership, I have training in piaffe, levade and terre-a-terre from the ground with Venturoso. First on the cavesson. Venturoso used to relate all work in hand with breeding and when I started training him he tried to attack me with explosive anxiety. As soon as I would stand near the shoulder he would either have a strong reaction to breed or he would feel threatened enough to charge forward over the shoulder in attack. In a bridle the attack would be followed by fear of the bit. In severe panic he would fly backwards with such speed and intensity that he would roll on his hind quarters and even flip himself over backwards to escape.
That is why I have started my training in a simple cavesson. I want Venturoso to be able to choose himself to stay with me and control his energy and emotion. If he makes a mistake and, for a moment lose himself in panic, I want him to be free of the bigger fear of the feeling of steel in the mouth. Until I am sure that he can control his panic I will not risk the bit.
Training high collection is asking for energy and power to flow up, it is teaching Venturoso to control his energy. To be able to build on it and then to be able to release this energy and come back to relaxation. Anxiety in a horse will always show in body tissues and restrictions. Venturoso had some serious issues in his back, lumber and sacrum. He has suffered from lower cervical vertebrae restriction and sternum injury. This shows in shoulder restriction and a dropped sternum means rib cage rotation becomes impossible. When the horse feels its movement coming against these restrictions anxiety will rise, resulting in shallow breathing, a stuck diaphragm and hyperventilation follows! This horse will feel the urge to flee, if necessary it must charge and escape this caged feeling.
This video highlights Venturoso’s development through the advanced exercises of piaffe, levade and a beginning of terre-a-terre