Knowing that I had a long drive through Los Angeles's notoriously heinous traffic, I only stayed through lunch which meant I missed listening to Dr. Mike Tomlinson, a long time endurance vet. I remember him from my endurance days and really wished I had had the time to sit and listen. I did catch Hilary Clayton's lecture on The Pyramid of Training: A Biomechanical Perspective though, which was definitely worth staying for.
- Rhythm - she stressed that hind-first dissociation is desirable. The hind feet should land first followed by the front feet. This is uphill balance.
- Suppleness - instead of relaxation, we should think about elasticity and freedom from anxiety. That really struck a chord with me particularly as it relates to Izzy.
- Contact - she shared some interesting slides showing the difference between a horse whose poll is truly at the highest point as opposed to a horse who has broken at the C3 vertebra. Ideally, the poll should actually look flat as the C2 and C3 vertebrae form a flat spot that you can actually see from the saddle.
- Impulsion - Dr. Clayton focused on two types of tendons, positional tendons - they help position the leg, and elastic tendons - those that stretch and recoil. It is the elastic tendons, such as the superficial digital flexor tendon, that we must guard closely against repetitive injuries.
- Straightness - One way that Dr. Clayton suggested we think about straightness is that the alignment must be equal. To achieve this, there must be lateral suppleness on both reins. She also dispelled the myth that the position in the uterus determines sidedness. She explained that horses have sidedness in their entire bodies, including the eyes and legs. According to her, horses prefer their handlers to be on the left side.
- Collection - collection comes from balance and lightness from increased engagement.
All of that is true although the company has designed a pad that hides all of the innards of the saddle. The panels of this saddle are nearly identical in design to those of the Reactor Panel saddles - I think the rep said the two companies are related somehow.
I am going to be sending my Chapter Chair a write-up of the meeting, and maybe I'll get to go again. Has anyone else ever been to their GMO's annual meeting? Do other GMOs even have annual meetings?