I came across Art2Ride in January 2013 just by chance. I was impressed by the logical training and the emphasis on building up topline muscles as a foundation. We started to train our Finnhorse Usko according to Art2Ride in the end of February 2013, although in full gear only from August 2013 onwards. With Pöly we started this type of training when he arrived with us in the end of May 2015. You can follow the training of both of them from Youtube or via Art2Ride Educational Blog pages.
In January 2016 I visited Will in San Marcos and observed
him working horses and giving lessons for about a week. It was an amazing
experience and I would recommend anyone to go and see him, if you possibly can.
It was really great to see the horses and riders that you have followed via
internet in real life, and it made some things far clearer. I learned a lot by
just being there and observing all the wonderful work that was going on.
During the week in California, Natalia created the Facebook group Art2Ride Fans&Followers and quickly involved me in the proceedings. Our group has grown very quickly and we are growing still every day. It is a very positive and supportive group, and we have striven to keep it that way – a safe and comfortable place for people to come and share their Art2Ride training, ask questions and advice. Will comes and posts & comments also sometimes in the subjects.
Below a couple example photos of the changes that come through classical foundation training.
Here is Pöly working long and low on the lunge about one month into training in the end of June 2015.
You can see how he has a clear dip behind the saddle area indicating lack of muscles over his back. He has not yet pulled up his belly muscles and his belly is clearly distended.
We are using a chambon here and lunging him still from a Dually halter (not the schooling ring) on top of his bridle. He had big issues with a bit in his mouth and it took a couple months before he was re-educated that the bit does not hurt him.
Note that he is reaching forward releasing his whole neck while stretching fully down to the ground level. Even though there is not yet any lift in his going (and there cannot be, since he has no muscles for it yet), he is pretty much tracking up under himself from behind.
And here is Pöly in the end of January 2016, that is about 7 months after the above photo and about 8 months from the start of our training.
The dip behind the saddle has been filling up very nicely and the belly muscles have been visibly activated - the belly is not hanging out anymore. In general, he has gotten a lot more muscles all over his topline and his strength has increased with it. There is some thrust from the ground as well, although you may not see it that well from just this photo. Hind quarters work a lot better and you can also see how they are slightly lowered in comparison to his front end. That is, he has come off his forehand a little so that he looks a tad more uphill when compared to the upper photo. This photo is from a video just before his saddle stopped fitting him due to muscle growth around his withers making them wider. We left chambon away already during the autumn, and you can see how calm and quiet his mouth is even though he is being lunged straight from the inside bit ring.
I'm a Finn living in Sweden... (Came here via Netherlands and Scotland.) I'm a geneticist from my profession (PhD) and have been working in that area for over 20 years.
I started riding when I was 9 years old, but we bought our first own horse only when I was 30 and we had moved to Scotland.
I was taught from the beginning the importance of balance and seat in riding, so got a nice basis without realizing it but only a lot later on.
With our first horse (I share the interest with my husband) in Scotland we were lucky to have a good trainer who taught us if not quite classically then very close to it.
Moving to Sweden we left our then 20 year old Jack (thoroughbred x Irish draft) in the good care of one our friends; did not want to put him through a total change of environment in his old age.
I then fulfilled my long time wish to get a Finnhorse, and imported Usko from Finland. He was an ex-harness racer and basic trained for riding just a couple months before we got him. So, he knew how to go forward, stop and jump. He was a wonderful character, a big teddybear of a horse. Unfortunately he died in the end of April 2015 due to complications after a colic operation.
Not able to face life without a horse, I went to see the only Finnhorse for sale in Sweden, and he was it. Pöly came home to us in the end of May 2015.