Enrichment and proprioception produces FUNctional movements.
I believe we underestimate both the capacity and essential need for our animals to think, puzzle solve, and to be challenged mentally and physically.
By physically, I don’t mean intense conditioning, but proprioceptively challenged. A puzzle solving request will do this.
I like to set up proprioceptively enriched environments. An unstable (yet controllable) physical situation in which exercises performed cause the body to use its internal balance and stabilization mechanisms.
Questions to your horse such as having to open and close gates, pull or push things, navigate unstable environments, go to scary places, anticipate what another animal might do.
All these things challenge our horse’s minds and bodies. They build our relationship with our horses and, when done well, our trust in each other.
This builds our 'trust bank account', a necessary deposit and credit system, to an overflowing bounty of trust and confidence.
They can also show us our training “holes,” that something we never thought about is super scary for our horse, or highlight a physical deficit.
Proprioception through enrichment builds FUNctional movements.
FUNctional movement builds an athlete rather than a contortionist.
Which one would you rather develop??