This is gonna be a biggie. Fast on the heels of my research regarding the classification of horses as livestock vs companion animals, I find this statement from Nevzorov Haute Ecole School that horseback riding– anytime spent on the back of the horse, is no longer admissible. Here is Alexander Nevzorov’s statement as to why:
“I can openly say for the first time (with sadness, but really frankly) that if we are honest with ourselves and if we have respect for other living beings, if we rely solely on scientifically sound and accurate data, we have to recognize that the anatomy of the horse (no matter who is on horseback: a child, a Haute Ecole master or an athlete) leaves no possibility for riding. There can no riding – no need to fool your head – not for five minutes or ten minutes.
Riding is always a huge problem for the horse’s spine and spinal cord, and the muscles cutaneus scapulobrachialis, and cutaneus maximus – those subcutaneous muscles that take the first blow. I can say that after riding, the restoration of the horse to a relatively normal state of the back, with restored blood flow in some muscles, takes more than a year. I understand that to some extent these unpleasant words will probably turn away many from the school; but for those who come in the hope to achieve an extraordinary relationship with the horse, no, you can not ride anymore.
The sadness is due to the fact that I regret my own name is associated with riding on horseback (despite some unique achievement in this area), and the fact that I, wittingly or unwittingly, have done very much to popularize this extremely disgusting fun. I now regret it, but, as I always say: well, of course, I was not born with the knowledge that I have at the moment. But, alas, I am to get this knowledge and also to work as icebreaker for the whole School, because I am involuntarily leading the way, breaking the terrible ice of errors and delusions.
The school must progress with the teacher; riding is no longer admissible for the students of NHE; not even collected and not even for five minutes, it is senseless to think we can fight for Horse Revolution, and still ride on horseback.”
Nevzorov writes extensively about his reasons in a 4 part series called Tractate on a School Mount: Man on the Back
Each part is found in issues ( Volume 1, 2009 through Volume 4, 2009 of his magazine/Journal Nevzorove Haute Ecole Equine Anthology
I also found the same series at Horse Conscious.
I’d love to know what you think of about his research and the decisions he’s made as a result.
This is of major interest to me, as you know my main focus is on the question “Does my horse feel good?” I simply can’t feel good about my relationship with my horse if I think in anyway he’s feeling some sort of discomfort, especially a discomfort I am directly responsible for and have the ability to relieve.
Coincidentally, as a result of communicating with my horses using attraction-based methods, I found my self riding less and less, but enjoying my relationship with them so much more. Their ability to interact with me, much like a service dog, to retrieve, stay, lie down on cue, perform agility became much more interesting to me then riding. The times when I would ride, I would incorporate retrieving under saddle and try to make riding ‘fun’ for them, but my rides rarely lasted over 15-20 minutes. I always thought it was my ADHD kicking in, but it may have been something else……Interesting to note that prior to Nevzorov issuing the statement that he no longer rides, he stated the following in Tractate 4:
“Spatium” is an old School name for the time during which a rider can be on horseback.Our spatium equals 15 minutes. Why?
Because our primary target is not to cause discomfort and pain in the muscles and skin of a horse’s back. That is why the maximum “School” period of being on horseback is exactly 15 minutes. Notably, I stress, that is the utmost maximum.
After 15 minutes under the weight and pressure of rider and saddle, the microtrauma of tissues begin, the compression effect accumulates, and the back of the horse begins to feel light discomfort. Dermal receptors produce an “itchy”(2) feeling.
Under the impact of direct compression, under the weight of the rider and saddle, the “perimysium”, the sheath of connective tissue surrounding muscle fibers, begins primary deformation, accompanied by feelings of discomfort, then these symptoms become more acute. At the end of 20 minutes, they turn into the feeling of dull pain.
He then gives the following suggestion:
In addition, I wouldn’t be as generous as science allows and for different horses I would require different spatiums.
For horses from 4 to 5 years old – this spatium is 5 minutes.
From 5 to 6 – 10 minutes.
From 6 until death – 12-15 minutes.
However, as evidenced by his statement regarding his school, I guess Nevzorov had concluded that any riding is detrimental to the horses’ back.
Alrighty then. Fascinating stuff. I’m still sorting through all the information. Meanwhile it’s my hope that rather than Nevzorov’s research causing lots of controversy it can give rise to new avenues for folks to enjoy their horses (without peer pressure that horses have to be ridden) who for some reason or other cannot ride, in areas such as horse agility. My ultimate hope is that studies like these will serve to increase awareness of the generous nature of the horse and treat them the sensitivity they deserve.