Plaidcast 347: Kristen Carollo & Jillian Kreinbring by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services

Plaidcast Episode 347 Kristen Carollo Jillian Kreinbring

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Piper speaks with Kristen Carollo of Courtyard Farm about her program and teaching the next generation of riders. Jillian Kreinbring also joins to talk about equine biomechanics and training horses to be sound. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!

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Piper Klemm [00:01:01] This is the Plaidcast. I’m Piper Klemm, publisher of the Plaid Horse magazine. And coming up on today’s show, episode 347, I speak with Kristen Carollo of Courtyard Farm outside New York City, and I talk with Jillian Kreinbring about equine biomechanics and training horses to be sound. This episode is brought to you by Taylor Harris Insurance Services. 

Piper Klemm [00:03:25]  Kristen Carollo on the August cover of the Plaid Horse magazine is the owner and trainer at Courtyard Farm in Bedford Hills, New York. Kristen has brought numerous riders from their very first ride in the short stirrup divisions to nationals on top horse shows up and down the East Coast. Her students have won championships at prestigious shows such as USEF Pony Finals, Washington International Horse Show, Pennsylvania National Horse Show and the Winter Equestrian Festival, to name a few. Welcome to the plaidcast, Kristen. 

Kristen Carollo [00:03:54] Thank you, Piper. 

Piper Klemm [00:03:56] So tell us about Courtyard Farm. It was my first time going for the photo shoot and it’s you have so much space and so much paddock space and it just felt so horse friendly there. 

Kristen Carollo [00:04:08] It is. I think it was a cow. It was a dairy farm 100 years ago. So it’s definitely animal friendly. But when I bought the property, it was very distressed. It was literally stone ruins. But there were fields already. So we did have some paddocks there already. They had some, they had a stallion and some broodmares that lived out in the field when I bought the property and so it it was already a farm of sorts when, when I bought it. So I just expanded on that. 

Piper Klemm [00:04:50] Tell us a little bit about your business, because I think it’s so unique that you yourself start a lot of the very young riders and you bring them all the way along to the top horse shows. 

Kristen Carollo [00:05:03] I think we’re unique because I do have a school program and it’s very hard for most professionals if they’re leasing space to have a school program because it costs so much to keep the horses. And you know, because it’s my farm, I’m able to, you know, have the school horses here. They’re mine. And I own them all and I own the space, so it it’s not that it’s economical in any way, but it it is easier because I’m not leasing the space. So I feel like it was really necessary to provide the community with a place where the kids can begin their riding careers. And if they have the means to go forward, we’re here for that. And if they are going to just learn to love to ride, then they stay in our lesson program, we have an IEA program which gives a lot of the kids who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to show for various reasons they’re able to, you know, mimic that show, you know, go to as a team, go to other farms and ride different horses and compete. So I think we’re unique in that we really do kind of cater to everyone. And then of course, I have my my clients who are have their privately owned and leased horses that I take to the horse shows. 

Piper Klemm [00:06:36] You said for the article, for the cover story, Integrity is my longevity. And I thought, that’s such a great quote, because I don’t think a lot of people coming in realize how small this industry is and that everyone knows everyone. And it’s a lifelong sport. I mean, I don’t think there are many things in life that kind of carry all your decisions with you wherever you go, in quite the same way as our sport does. And and I thought it was such a succinct way to say it. 

Kristen Carollo [00:07:06] Thank you. Yeah, it is. Well, my mom was a very successful businesswoman in her own right and a flower business, but she always taught me that integrity was so important in everything that you do and in life. But I think you’re right, because our business is very small, even though it’s nationwide. I do business with people in California all the time. So I think for me, it’s very important that I’m not just selling one horse to one of my clients, but that they do stay with me through their careers, whether it be from their very first pony through their big at course went on to college. And I have a lot of students that come back after college, too. And I tell the dad or mom that I’m talking to when they’re going to purchase their first, you know, lease and or buy that I don’t want to sell you one. I want to sell you all of the ones. So it doesn’t behoove me to make all my money now, I would rather get -do the best for you so you stay, than try to make my big bucks right now and then you leave in a year or two when you realize it wasn’t the right situation. So, you know, it’s it’s so important to me that that I do the right thing from the very beginning. And I think that’s why people stay with me so long. 

Piper Klemm [00:08:42] It is interesting. Like I feel like people- that require so much trust on your end and, you know, so many trainers, you know, everyone in this business on all sides has been burned before. And I think so many people lose faith and lost trust. And that’s a trust in yourself and your system and your process. And it’s also a trust in the clients. And we ask customers in a sport have so much faith in their trainer. But I don’t you know, it’s it’s hard for a trainer to have faith back in them because, again, both both sides have been burned so many times and many of these relationships. 

Kristen Carollo [00:09:21] Oh, for sure. I’ve had, you know, put my all into people that, you know, have decided it’s time to move on. And, you know, while it you do take it personally. And I certainly do, because I’ve put so much of my own self into every student I’ve now that I’ve gotten older and I’ve been in business so much longer, I’ve learned that, you know, people do move on and I’m still not going to change how I teach or how I invest in my students. I hope they stay with me and I hope I give them the the experience that they want and need. And and if I don’t, then okay, then it might be time for them to move on. But I, I strive with every student to make sure that I give them the best experience and they become good people and they they are respectful of the animals first and foremost, and that they have a lifelong, whether they ride for life, that they have a lifelong love for riding or for the horses. And that’s always been a huge part of it for me. 

Piper Klemm [00:10:36] You said in the article, I quote, “It’s never the horse’s fault, we’re the ones that are telling them what to do.” Can you talk a little bit about that? 

Kristen Carollo [00:10:46] Yeah, I think if I had more room, I would have explained that more. I really believe that every mistake that happens, whether a horse stops or they spook or they buck or they do something- there’s a reason. There’s there’s always something, whether it be physical or mental. Their environment, their, you know, the weather. There is always a reason behind it. And instead of just saying, oh, the horse was a bad horse or he was naughty today, or he was this. I try to teach my rider to look beyond that and say, what? What is it that that I can problem solve to make this better or make the horse better? Or maybe it’s just the horse is having a bad day and needs to go out and do it again the next day and you try again. But instead of making excuses all the time, or Oh, the horse was a bad horse, we need to move on to the next or this pony is being naughty. It’s not your fault. I want the kids and my student adults alike to problem solve and say, What can I do better? How can I make this horse more comfortable, more willing to do what I need it to do that really? And that came from my husband always teaching me to problem solved with because I rode a lot of thoroughbreds and, you know, they were off the track and it was how to make them more comfortable. How do you make them less hot? How do you you know, it was always teaching to problem solve. We’re telling them something and maybe we’re not communicating properly. And how do I communicate better with my horse so I can get a better ride or a better jump or just a better anything trail? So or even on the ground, if they’re cranky or they’re, you know, they’re not friendly on the ground, what can I do better? How can I problem solve to make a better situation for my my relationship with my horse? 

Piper Klemm [00:12:53] And these problem solving skills, I think, are so hard to develop. And in young people these days, because there’s so much accessibility to two answers or fixes, whether they’re the right fix, that’s something else. But how does that make them stronger? Students at school and more prepared for life in general, not just in the horse world. 

Kristen Carollo [00:13:16] Yeah, I’ve always said that these are all life lessons. And you know as well as my student did at finals, we had one mishap and her horse stopped at one of the first jumps. One of the horses that she showed and. Yes. Should he have stopped? No. Could he have jumped the jump? Probably. But we already know about this pony in particular, that he likes a certain ride. And if you give him the other ride, you’re opening a door for him to refuse. So. I when she came out, of course, she was upset. She rode the rest of the course beautifully. And she was like, Why did he do that to me? And I said, Well, why did you. Why did you allow him to? By riding him the way you know, he doesn’t want to be ridden for the first stop. So it was more of. Yeah, so sad that pony finals ends and it was a bummer. But what could you have done better and what did you do better after that that you could have done from the first step when you walked in the ring? And I take those lessons, then take them into life and say, okay, I did. I did this, and I could have done it better and made a better outcome. And that you can take into anything in life, whether it be school relationships, you know, work. You know, so I think knowing how to do that at a young age, instead of me patting her on the back and saying, Oh, poor you, I’m so sorry that happened, which I did do. But at the end of the day, that’s not going to help her in horseback riding or in life. 

Piper Klemm [00:15:01] By having the riding school there at the farm, you’re also able to have this kind of almost holistic approach because you have a number of famous old ponies on the property, you know, living out their golden days very easily and and still serving the next generation of riders. Can you talk a little bit about how having riders from their first lesson and ponies through so many stages of their careers kind of in one place makes, you know, like a really rich fabric environment of understanding where people are, where you are, kind of this process. I think so many barns are so specialized, which is good in so many ways, but then you kind of miss the rest of the picture of the animals whole life or the kid’s progression. 

Kristen Carollo [00:15:56] Right. I think I’ve always said if I buy if I buy a pony or a horse and use it at my school program, they have a home for life. I will never sell them. I will turn them out. I retire them. I make a commitment. If they make a commitment to me, I make a commitment to them. Sometimes it’s worked out. Sometimes I bought animals that were awful for my program and they’re living out in a field. So sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But but for the most part, I, I feel very strongly that if you work for me, I’m going to take care of you. But I think for the kids to see like they’re on. I’ve had many ponies that have been a first pony to multiple children and when they come to the barn and they’re on their next pony or horse and they see that pony teaching the next person, it’s it’s special for them. So I you know, I don’t obviously own all of them, but the ones that I do, it’s nice to see their whole lives. I mean, I have, you know, like I said, I have sporting around back and had him like six or seven years ago and and he was so wonderfu Pony Hunter. And now he’s even more wonderful as a short stirrup teacher. I’ve offered you know, I have a few of my favorite ponies that are out there, and I’ve called and offered, you know, homes to them and to buy them back and or want them back for other students of mine because they were great teachers and. I want them to teach the next generation. And yeah, so I. I love that. I mean, my first horse that put me in this business, I had her from a yearling. She was my mom’s thoroughbred racehorse, and she passed away here at 32. So I literally had her for 31 years and I’ve had multiple horses for 20 plus years in my life and that have stayed with me through that. I mean, I have a pony now, I’ve had since she’s seven and she’s 20 now and she’s still she’s still everybody’s first pony, and the girl who owned her initially is, you know, living in New York City and working. And she’s a real adult now. And I still have her pony. So and that’s pretty special to her. So, yeah, I just think the. Teaching the kids to see the ponies in all stages of their lives too, is important because it’s not just, you know, the golden years. Sometimes you see them later years and and how you have to take care of them then. 

Piper Klemm [00:18:54] Let’s talk about going to some of the bigger shows and kind of the pressure that comes with that. And, you know, coming into your own as a trainer that training the top riders at those shows. I mean, can you tell us a little bit about what it was like, you know, when you were younger, professional, going to those shows and really starting to win at them and belonging at them? Because I talked to so many professionals that are go to these big horse shows where they absolutely belong, but they’re kind of terrified of the competition of the pressure and kind of that that moving up and you really, you know, moved your way up all the way through these top shows to really belong at the. 

Kristen Carollo [00:19:40] Yeah. Yeah. And my my path obviously was very different than most. So I just really, you know, in the beginning it was very difficult and I really felt like I didn’t I didn’t belong without my husband there and how was I going to do it by myself? And, you know, I kind of. Learned by watching and listening to some of you. Like I said, Judy Richter was a huge influence in my life and really stepped in and helped me after Jerry passed away to say, You can do this and I’m going to help you and you know you’re going to be successful, you’re you’re going to do it. And she really, really helped me as Caroline and did as well. And then when I started getting nicer, you know, I don’t want to say nicer ponies, but but ponies that belonged on the circuit when when that started to happen for me, I, you know, and I started getting them from professionals like Kim Stewart and Jennifer Beeling, and they would really kind of help me, you know, with with how those shows go. And, you know, a lot of hard lessons for sure. But watching and learning and listening and I still I you know, I’ll still ask people for help all the time and say, you know, I don’t feel like I know everything. And, you know, if I’m having if I have my Green Pony and and I’m stumped on something, I’m happy to call somebody and say, hey, do you have an idea for this? This is what I’m going through. So I think it’s always learning. And and my husband did one of the things that he always said about the horse business is there’s always a new horse. So I never get bored. There’s always something new to learn. And and I feel that way. I’m still learning all the time, but now it just comes easier. Now my confidence level is higher because I’ve, I’ve achieved a lot and, and I worked hard for it. So that is, I think, where my confidence comes from. I had to I feel like I had to work a little harder than everybody else because I didn’t have the same credentials that everybody else had. And it made me work harder and it made me want one more and learn from every single person that I could. 

Piper Klemm [00:22:11] What’s next for Courtyard Farm? What do we have to look forward to? 

Kristen Carollo [00:22:16] Hopefully just keep bringing out more of these, you know, good little riders. I mean, it’s it’s it’s so fun to watch the process. I’ve always loved the process of starting and seeing what they can become. That’s always been my favorite part of the business, whether it’s even with an adult starting that and then seeing what they can become, you know, it’s really fun. Yes, It’s great to have somebody who already knows how to ride come in and do it, because that’s easy. But the hard part, it’s really starting them and and bringing out potential. Some kids learn naturally because they’re naturally gifted and and some people are not naturally gifted, but they’re teachable. And I’ve had success with both on both types of riders. As a matter of fact, one of my one of my. Very best riders. Was teachable. Not really natural. So. So it’s kind of for me, it’s fun that that process is fun. So I’m going to continue to do that. We’ll continue our lesson program. We’re continuing our program I am hopefully going to cap off my. My orders at a certain number that I feel is I can keep it still a boutique farm where we’re very one on one and I can still give private lessons. I feel like if I get over a certain number, then the the one on one attention is going to slip away from me. So I have a few more spots left for that. And I’m good. So more more of the same, I hope I’m grateful for. For what I have. So. 

Piper Klemm [00:24:21] Thank you for joining us on the Plaidcast. 

Kristen Carollo [00:24:24] Thank you, Piper. It’s been fun, the whole process. 

Piper Klemm [00:26:03] Jillian Kreinbring is an equine functional anatomist. Jillian travels nationally and internationally teaching courses and lessons based on healthy equine posture and movement to bring about health, longevity and vitality. Welcome to the plaidcast, Jillian. 

Jillian Kreinbring [00:26:17] Well, thank you very much. 

Piper Klemm [00:26:19] Tell us about your philosophy and how balance and anatomic forces relate to horses and riding and our sport. 

Jillian Kreinbring [00:26:29] Yeah, well, I think, you know, we if we think of a modern day master like Charles decomfy. You know, Charles has written about and talked about for decades now as well as some other researchers like Dr. Deb Bennett for decades now that, you know, horses are not designed to carry the vertical weight of a rider. So if you think about it, we have vertical weight in our vertical bodies coming down along their horizontal plane. And if you really study functional anatomy, you’ll you’ll learn that only the hind legs have a direct attachment to the spine. So the front legs are simply attached by soft tissue, fascia muscles, tendons, ligaments and so forth. So we’ve got all of our weight plus our saddle sitting on this horizontal plane that is only really held up by muscles, tendons, ligaments and too bony connections at the side joints. So I find that so fascinating that that human beings can educate and train these amazing sentient beings who move in particular postures that actually make it easy for them to carry our weight. And the masters that came before us and modern day masters, you know, from learning from tacit knowledge passed down through the centuries, the human race has learned how to educate horses, to move in very dynamic postures so that the weight of the rider isn’t necessarily harmful to their bodies. But that takes a lot of study and understanding to be able to bring a sense of empathy to the horse in terms of what it is that we are asking them to do and understanding that it’s not natural for them to carry weight, and yet they do. 

Piper Klemm [00:28:40] I have to really focus on my posture because I’ll totally curl up in Weird, weird work angles that I really regret. 

Piper Klemm [00:28:49] And it’s always so interesting to me is that, like some horses carry themselves pretty naturally correctly, but then, you know, that little bit out of whack somewhere, you know, it’s so hard to bring it back to center once any minor thing happens, there’s so much compensation. Can you talk a little bit about like even the most minor injuries, how they magnify throughout the body? 

Jillian Kreinbring [00:29:18] Yeah, absolutely. So the first thing I want to make mention of is that there are a lot of different correct postures. We sometimes think that horses just magically become collected or they’re they’re magically balanced. But the truth of the matter is that they can be on the forehand in one stride imbalance in the next stride in a degree of collection in one stride, back down to balance, and then into a high degree of collection. And that’s always dynamic. You know, it’s like a sliding scale. When we talk about about posture, nothing should ever be fixated, you know. And [00:30:00]oftentimes we’re taught as riders to position ourselves and to be fixated, or we’re somehow supposed to frame a horse and hold a horse in a particular position. And and that’s just not how it works. We are living body that is about energy. And the horse is a living being. That’s about energy. And when you put a horse and rider together, it’s about shaping the energy between two beings in a way that can bring about beautiful movement. And I like to tell my students, we need to learn it like a science, but right, It’s like an art. [42.8s] And I have to tell myself that pretty consistently because training can become very mechanical. So in terms of a little thing going wrong. I like to look at a horse’s body in two different ways when I’m trying to figure out what might be going on if they’re seemingly off. One is if they have pain somewhere in the distal limb, like in the hoof, in the pastern and in the in the in the carpal joints or what have you. Then we have what is referred to as an ascending strain. So it comes from the foot and moves up into the body. And then the body will compensate for the distal lameness. Right. And you can see horses tightening their backs. You can see horses not being symmetrical in their in their front end movement or their hind end movements. You can see an assortment of compensations happening in the body. Another way of looking at asymmetry or lameness is to look in terms of a descending strain, which would be more pain that might be found in, we could even say the TMJ or any of the the spinal joints or the pelvis. And then that pain will make them compensate in their body, which will then affect their limb movement. So we’ve got different ways of looking at a horse being off. So and then you’ve got horses that are definitely lame and then you have horses that are just simply asymmetric. And asymmetry can be what a horse is born with, you know, that they’re just side it. They have a sidedness to them. And when I look at a horse that’s asymmetric, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re lame, but it means that I have to go to my classical principles, to gymnast, to size the body in both directions until I can start to bring about more symmetrical movement. So we can have all kinds of little things going on in the body that will bring about a compensatory pattern. My my teacher, one of my teachers, Janik Vluggen from the Vluggen Institute of Equine Osteopathy, he always teaches his students that the joints that have the least amount of movement, if those joints lose their more their mobility, they tend to have the biggest ramifications on the body. And I find that to be very true. If you look at the side joints, there’s very little movement that happens at the S.I. joints. But if that movement stops for whatever reason, then you start to see a pretty big cascading compensatory patterns developing. 

Piper Klemm [00:33:54] We have a lot of discussion of footing in the Hunter jumper industry right now as things evolve and horse’s lives evolve kind of in parallel, it’s hard to kind of pull out what is something what is something else? I mean, I would argue that horses jump a lot of a lot more classes in any given week. I think horses back in the day went to a lot of horse shows, but didn’t necessarily jump as many classes in the same horse show so it’s kind of hard to pull apart footing from number of classes, from amount of travel. What do you see as kind of bigger wear and tear of things that we’re asking of horses in today’s world that maybe maybe we didn’t ask 20 years ago? I mean, I think the quantity of travel is absolutely off the charts compared to 20 years ago, for example. 

Jillian Kreinbring [00:34:45] Yeah, I think that’s a really, really great, great question. And. You know, when I grew up, I’m kind of dating myself more, you know. More than 20 years ago. Oh, you know, our horses always had a season. You know, we we we always turned our horses out for at least three months every year. And then the horses, we pulled the shoes, we let the horses acclimate. They got to be in a herd. They got to be a horse. And I think today we we just require so much from the horses. You know, it’s it’s six days a week. It’s travel, travel, travel. And I think it’s too much if you just kind of liken it to ourselves, you know, if we’re going to a 9 to 5 job day in and day out and we work six days a week, and then on the day we have off, we just try to catch up. But it’s never enough time to catch up to ourselves. We don’t ever consider that the horses need breaks as well. They need an opportunity to be a horse to let their bodies relax. I can’t tell you how many times my students have said I had to let my horse off for like three months. And when he came back, he was so much better. Well, of course he was better. He got to go on vacation. So I think, you know, if we if we can have some compassion and and just remember that they’re not our slaves for our ego, for our desires. That we need to see them not as underlings. We need to see them as our partners, as as a whole other nation of species, and have some mutual respect for them as opposed to just always wanting to take from them. What can they give us? What can they give us? They’re not giving us enough and just bring a little bit of compassion and understanding back to the game. You know, oftentimes it’s our ambition and the horses do it for us. So I think it’s really about checking ourselves, you know, what what are we asking for and requiring from from the horses? Because we know that that horses will will will do it for us. And if they don’t do it for us. There’s always a reason. It’s not like they’re going back to their stall and, you know, having a cup of coffee with their stablemate and saying, Yeah, my riders a real jerk. I just don’t think I’m going to, you know, I’m just not going to do this anymore. Like, they don’t they don’t get the luxury of saying, you know, take this job and shove it. You know, they don’t they don’t get they don’t get that that that choice. So I think it’s the humans that have to kind of check themselves and and to to to realize that they’re that they’re living beings and they also need to have a break. And in terms of traveling a lot, one of the things that’s hard about traveling is that horses have a state apparatus that allows them to stand while they rest. And they can. And that’s what helps them stand while they actually sleep. But when they’re in a trailer, the vibration of the trailer doesn’t allow them to lock that state apparatus. So what that means is that they have to use muscular effort for that entire time that they’re traveling on the road. That’s why it’s always a good idea that if you do have to travel and transport your horses a lot, if you’re going from one competition to the next, that you should always build in a break like every three and a half to 4 hours and let your horses stand for 20 minutes just so they can lock that state apparatus in and allow their musculature to. To recoup because as a competitor, we know that the one thing that can really hinder a good performance is fatigue. So fatigue and pain, those are always going to be the two things that. That are going to create roadblocks, pain, fatigue, a horse, not understanding what the writer is communicating to them, or they have fear of pain that they once had or bad input in from a writer equals bad output from the horse. 

Piper Klemm [00:39:26] You mentioned a few times casually in the other stories about kind of social things like going out in herds or what? On the circuit right now. Horses are very isolated from other horses. Many show horses aren’t turned out with other horses. How how does this impact them? And, you know, how do I even think about, like land use? How much less turn out time are they getting? Because we’re only putting one in the field at a time And, you know. Talk a little bit about how. Lack of socialization over time impacts horses. 

Jillian Kreinbring [00:40:06] Yeah. For first of all, I understand why people have fear of turning out their, you know, their very incredible horses with other horses in a fear of them getting hurt. And so I understand that perspective. But in terms of a species. I always tell my clients that there are certain things that are heard can offer another horse that a human being never can. There’s been lots of studies to show that mutual grooming. Actually lowers a horse’s cortisol level, that it brings about a sense of social networking friends. If you think about COVID, how many people went a little nutty because they were confined to their homes, they didn’t have enough socialization. And these are herd animals. You know, they’re their genetics is is to be socialized with the herd. I think it brings about just a more mentally well-balanced animal, especially young horses. Young horses learn way more from how our herd. Has boundaries and and social hierarchies and etiquette a lot more than what a human can because so many humans offer. Horses boundaries, but it’s typically through us. Just using a lot of negative reinforcement. And in horses, we’ll obviously have biting and kicking and sneering and ears back and moving horses out of the herd. But then there’s also a lot of feeling of protection and and learning certain horse behaviors from another one of their kind. Right. And the other thing that that we sometimes don’t take into consideration is that, you know, horses were designed to move. The horses were designed to do a couple of things really, really well, and that is to eat and to run or to move and to do that in a straight line. And there’s lots of research that shows that if you you know, if you walked your horse grazing in a pasture, they’re always kind of walking in that walking component while they’re grazing actually helps with their digestion. So horses that are out socially interacting with their herd and grazing have less incidences of colic and ulcers. So I think, you know, it’s it’s important to allow a horse to experience the things that that horses naturally were supposed to be experiencing in their life. So do I have my horses in stalls and keep them in a barn? Yeah, I do. But they don’t stay in their stalls 24 hours, and I always find a good buddy for them to go out with. So what I would recommend is, you know, if you’re worried about your horse getting hurt, but you want him to have socialization, buy him a mini I am a donkey. Or find a nice older horse, retired horse that’s calm and give them the opportunity to to connect, to have a bond, to do social grooming, to figure out their hierarchy within their herds. And and I think many horses will be better emotionally balanced for it. And there is also some research out there that suggests that five is the magic number. And I know a lot of people that’s just not, you know, a possibility. But, you know, three is always a nice number because if you take one away, then there’s always another horse there. So, yeah, if you if you don’t have another horse, then then look at some other options like, like a donkey or a mini and a allow that horse to have a friend and that doesn’t mean that the horse you pick is going to work either. So you have to really kind of shuffle things about and find, you know, what, horses work well together and what horses don’t. So here at our ranch, you know, we’ve done a lot of mixing and matching and shuffling. And, you know, I have to say, I’ve had horses my whole life and I have yet had a horse that has been so injured from being in a herd that it was a career ender. But I do know that that happens. So is it a little bit of a risk? Yes, But I think it’s a better alternative and a better life for many horses. 

Piper Klemm [00:45:06] Well, I’m that’s not like being in this, as you said, with colic and everything else. It’s not like sticking them in a stall all the time is no risk either. 

Jillian Kreinbring [00:45:14] Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that they I also read a study once that if you do have your horses stabled to really think about who they’re stabled next to, because a horse, a horse’s cortisol levels that they’re starting to feel threatened or if they don’t like the horse next door. They’re always going to have a sympathetic, nervous response to that. So their cortisol levels are going to be high. They’re going to be stressed because they don’t like their neighbor. And and so they might start kicking the wall. Right. Or develop the nasty habit of lunging at at at the at the gate. Why? That’s an unhappy horse. So, you know, if you if the horses do have to be in, you pay special attention that that they’re stabled next to a horse that they enjoy because they can’t get away. You know, it’s like being trapped in or in a room with somebody that you just don’t like. And that’s and that’s the same for the horses. 

Piper Klemm [00:46:24] I talked to a lot of trainers who say, like my trainer or who say, like my client, like, wants a horse. Well, And they want them to have friends. But as soon as they do that, you know, there is even though major injuries are not very common, minor scuffs and, you know, little hair patches missing or something like that of turn out are fairly normal in my experience. And so that then people see these and something that seems like a good idea when they actually see it in practice kind of makes a lot of horse owners panic a little bit. Can you kind of speak to that a little bit about kind of that natural? Being out and scuffing up a little bit from moving around. 

Jillian Kreinbring [00:47:13] Yeah, I was a weirdo about that for a long time because, you know, I always wanted my horses to look perfect. I didn’t ever want them to have a little scratch or anything or little by it or anything of that nature. But I just had to ask myself, well, what’s the worse alternative? A little scratch. I mean, you can send your children out to the playground and, you know, sometimes they’re going to trip in and scratch their knee, right? Well, do you want to wrap them up and bubble wrap them, keep them in the house so they they don’t get a little scratch on their knees or a little bruise or this or that or whatever? No, because it’s not healthy. So I do think you need to put some energy and some experimentation into finding what horses pair very well together. And if you find horses that pair very well together, there’s rarely anything that happens other than maybe a little scratch every once in a while. But your horses will be so much happier and so much healthier. And you’ll notice that in your training there’ll be more relaxed in their body because they’re more relaxed in their mind. They they get to move in and if they’re a little sore, they can move their muscles. If you go work out and go sit on the couch, you’re going to be much more stiff the next day. We work our horses really hard and sometimes just put them in a stall and then they come out stiff the next day and then we ask ourselves, Oh, he’s not very supple today. Now let’s throw some draw reins or some side reins on him, or he doesn’t want to really move very forward well he might be stiff and sore. You know, they’re athletes. So I think that’s what I would I would suggest is, yeah, it’s possible your horse might get a bite mark or your horse might get a little scratch, But we’re going to take a lot of time to find who they get along with and who they don’t get along with and and make sure that that, you know, we have a good combination, like with our horses here. We have 16 horses on the property. Even our stallion, our young stallion is out with the geldings because he needs that. The worst thing you could do is isolate and stallion. They are very, very, very social. So and not all stallions are as kind as this stallion. But we do take it pretty seriously. And and we have found, you know, that every horse here on the property has paired with somebody and gets along and we try to have at least three in in, in our little herds, 3 to 5 in each of our little herds. And so far, we’ve we’ve had very, very good luck with that. The horses, of course, during Texas time, they come in during the day to get out of the heat. The minute starts to cool off. They go outside, so they get to be outside and moving in their little herd at least 12 hours a day. 

Piper Klemm [00:50:12] Can you talk to us a little bit about training your horse to. I’m going to say, like, present more soundly. I don’t know if I exactly mean it like that, but some of these horses that come out. You know. 

Piper Klemm [00:50:29] More left handed are more. Have a favoring something with without an injury or something like that. They just happen to favor one side or the other, like training them to be more even and more sound across the ground to kind of build the correct muscle mass. 

Jillian Kreinbring [00:50:49] Yeah, that’s a really great question. So there are a couple ways of looking at asymmetry. You have horses that are right handed or left handed like humans, and that’s denoted genetically and in areas of the brain. And then you have horses that tend to want to bend more, either right or bend a little bit more left. So you have sidedness that way as well. So you’ve got left handed horses, you have right banded horses that and then you’ve got right handed horses and left handed horses. And then you also have something called central pattern generators and two areas of the spine. And these central pattern generators basically determine gait. And when we’re looking at symmetry in terms of gait, we’re not just looking at are they step symmetrically, meaning are they are they bringing the left hind leg forward as much as they bring the right hind legs forward? We also want to look at do they extend that leg equally? Is is the extension part of the stride phase equal on both sides? And then we also want to look at the height of of the step. Is that symmetrical? So there’s all these different types of ways of looking at asymmetry. Once you’ve studied it, then you can come up with a game plan for that individual. So I’m a big proponent and advocate for really solid, knowledgeable in hand work. And and that’s an art onto itself to learn how to educate horses to the bridle and to work them in hand from the ground. To help bring about symmetry and movement before they even start to carry the weight of the rider. Because we have to consider we’re always going to be a hindrance on their back. So I love to use in handwork to bring about equal ness. Now my in handwork isn’t just unconsciously throwing a canvas on on a horse and and letting them run around me on the lunge line to the right into the left. That does no good, because you’re actually putting more crookedness into the horse if you allow them to do that. And I would say horses get more hurt on the lunge line doing that than they do playing in a in a pasture or a paddock. So there’s one exercise that I really like to do in a Cabazon, and I do this a lot in my lessons, particularly with with students that I’m just meeting for the first time, and that is you have a canvas on, on a lunging canvas sign and you walk backwards on a circle. You’re on the inside of the circle, you line the horse’s nose up to your outside shoulder and you align your outside shoulder to their inside points of shoulder. That’s what will create a correct bend where the horse is not over bended. And if you walk backwards on that curved line without micromanaging the horse, you’re going to notice. Does the horse keep trying to put himself to the inside of the circle or does the horse drift away from the circle? And within 5 minutes I can already tell. Okay. Tracking left. The horse falls in tracking. Right. The horse falls out. So once I have that baseline, then I go about shaping and sculpting my horse from the ground to help to bring about. Balance, not just from front to back, but lateral balance. And I know if I can really help my horse stabilize their body and find a good lateral balance where I can get the engagement of the inside hind leg, I know from the power that that horse is going to create from pressing against the ground, the ground reaction forces traveling up through the limb from the inside hind leg will come over the back into a longitudinal stretch. So if I work my horses in this way and I’m very keen observer, what I’m really working on are the stabilizing muscles and the postural muscles which are responsible for fine motor movement skills and to develop the strength so that the horse can be taped correctly on curved lines and over jumps and across diagonals or whatever it is that you want to do. So you have to be a keen observer. And I would recommend that everybody takes a little time to learn some basic in hand skills to help support the horse from the ground. 

Piper Klemm [00:56:06] Jillian, thank you so much for joining us on the plaidcast. 

Jillian Kreinbring [00:56:11] Oh, you’re most welcome. It was very enjoyable. 

Piper Klemm [00:58:52] To learn more about anything we’ve discussed on today’s show, visit theplaidhorse.com. You can find show notes at theplaidhorse.com/listen. Follow The Plaid Horse on all the social medias. You can subscribe to the print edition of the Plaid Horse magazine at theplaidhorse.com/subscribe. Please rate and review the plaidcast anywhere you listen to it. And if you enjoy this episode, please share it with your friends, I will see you at the ring!