Horse Seesaws: Which size fits?

What are the questions that horse people who are concerned with sensible gymnastics through seesaw training ask? Of course, a lot is about how to get the horse to move on the seesaw in such a way that his musculoskeletal system gets the greatest possible benefit from it. But before the beautiful muscles can sprout, the right size of seesaw has to be chosen. In our seesaw shop

we offer the so-called full-body seesaws. We created the name because, on the one hand, the whole horse’s body is trained on it and, on the other hand, there is usually not much more space on such a seesaw than for a whole horse’s body.
In the seesaw shop there is a size finder that is based on the horse’s stature, but I would like to address a few other important factors.
An easily measurable parameter for the right horse rocker is the so-called “wheelbase.” There are square and rectangular types of horses, which come in different lengths for the same stick size.
To determine the wheelbase, I recommend the following procedure: You stop your horse from moving and measure the length from the tip of the front hoof to the ball of the equilateral hind hoof. Then let your horse walk a few steps, stop again and measure again. After five measurements, take the cut and find the length your horse needs for full body rocking.

Now, many equids often lie exactly on the border between two rocker sizes. We offer them in 1000, 1250, 1500 and 2000 millimetres length in the footprint. This is also the reason for the product designations, e.g. T-1500 of the Steigerwald.T horse saddles.
What if your horse has a wheelbase of 160 centimetres? Of course it can also bob nicely on a Steigerwald.T- 1500, if it puts itself together a bit there. But it can only bob in this way, because there is simply not enough room for all the other positions. The particularly beneficial effect of the loose swinging on muscles, fasciae, tendons, ligaments and joints cannot be achieved in this way. The reason for this is that your horse has to build up and maintain a certain tension in order to be able to stay on the reduced and unstable support surface at all. The stretching, relieving component of the “teeter-totter” movement is therefore considerably less.
Of course, the “rocking mountain goat” is a great workout and a real eye-catcher especially for people who find it hard to believe that you can get horses on such training equipment at all. Anyone who has ever sat on a horse’s back and felt the different types of seesaws will confirm that there is a lot of tension in the whole body when it pushes itself together on the little horse seesaw.
That’s why I recommend a larger size when choosing a horse rocker. You can place your horse sometimes more open, sometimes more closed, sometimes slightly sawhorse-like like a rocking horse, sometimes more at the front end, sometimes more at the back end of the seesaw. And then you have a much greater variance in the strain on the muscles.
Then, of course, there is the question of how old your horse is, or whether he has physical problems such as spavin or problems with his spine. In this case it makes sense to make the task easier for such a candidate.
Especially stepping on the seesaw is easier if there is more space. This also applies to horse-human teams that do not have much experience with ground work or clicker training. An experienced trainer can set the horse tricky tasks such as a shire on a two-legged see-saw with fewer mistakes and more success.

If the seesaw is to be used more on a trail and for riding over, the T-2000 is a good choice. Due to the longer overhang, it has a fixed end for stepping on and off. This allows horses that need to balance the rider in addition to their own body to move safely into instability. It is approved for up to 800 kilos in wood and up to 1000 kilos in stainless steel and can also be managed by less experienced teams with a little practice.
After all, gymnastics training should be gymnastics with fun! If the tasks are easy to understand and manage, especially at the beginning, the joy is greater on both sides. In the Steigerwald.T Online Academy you can find great webinars on seesaw training (LINK) and there are now some seesaw trainers who can help with questions.
But back to the size of the seesaw. Horses are known to be herd animals and it is possible that several horses share a rocker. The following applies here: Smaller equids can move any size of see-saw, my two Shetty geldings with their 100 and 105 centimetres of stature and 102 and 98 centimeters wheelbase respectively can move all horse seesaws well up to the T-3000. If you have a pony with a wheelbase of 115 centimetres, for example, it will be able to perform versatile seesaw training on a T-1500 or T-2000. A big advantage of a larger footprint horse rocker is that you can rock up and down together with your horse. There are three variations:
1. you let yourself move and let your horse do all the work.
2. you move your horse. This is wonderful for loosening up his muscles and strengthens your hindquarters 😉
3. you find a common groove of alternating activity and passivity. A wonderful way to move together with your horse!
There is no right and wrong, every seesaw moves differently, every hoof length change in position changes the whole balance structure. For transport, I always recommend using a handcart. This is a good way to move all the seesaws from A to B on your own and is easy on the back.
Whichever seesaw you choose and whichever one you are already using, enjoy the valuable training time you spend together with your horse!

Cooperation in medical training

nina horse injection coopertation

Today I would like to explain the topic of cooperation with horses in medical training and give you an insight into this form of training.

What does cooperation mean in dealing & training with horses?

“Uncertainty and helplessness versus self-determination”.

In many situations in everyday life with our horses we depend on the cooperation, trust and participation of our horses. In the life of a horse there are some scary or frightening moments and unknown situations. A very special unpleasant and difficult situation for many horses is the treatment at the vet.

It is tied up, possibly in pain. You, as his confidant, are agitated. In addition, there is the veterinarian, whose presence has often been associated with less than pleasant experiences for your horse in the past.

Your horse finds himself in a situation where he knows that he is in for acutely unpleasant measures and possibly also pain. The tension level rises and with it the stress hormones. Your horse’s instinctive behavior would be to flee or fight back. However, the more tense the muscles, the more intensely it will feel pain. Your horse is stuck in a vicious circle and the horse’s brain stores the situation under the heading “acutely bad”. Consequently, in the future, when it thinks it perceives indications of a comparable situation, it will react with defensiveness from the outset.

An animal-friendly way out of this vicious circle is to give your horse a say and control over the course of a treatment. In this way, he can actively give you his “okay”, knowing full well that it may become uncomfortable in a moment.

Your horse gets a say & self-determination and is willing to cooperate with you and the veterinarian. In other words, it cooperates and actively collaborates.

What goals do you achieve with this?

When we have worked out this willingness to cooperate in the horse, many fear and fright moments for your horse can be avoided. He does not store the visit & treatment of the veterinarian negatively and a possibly before always necessary sedation or nose brake is no longer necessary.

The bottom line is that everyone involved wins: your horse regains its self-determination, you gain more security and a smooth process, the vet gains an enormous reduction in workload and everyone together gains much more confidence in dealing with each other.

In addition, medical training does wonders for the relationship between you and your horse. Please have a look at this blog Medical Training works wonders in the relationship.

How you can develop this willingness to cooperate in your horse?

For exactly this development of cooperation and self-determination there is the so-called “Medical Training”. I have developed a whole training concept for horse owners, trainers, veterinarians and other professionals in the equine field.

This training is especially focused on health care and veterinary situations. You will learn methods to practice certain scary and frightening situations like the injection, a worming treatment, etc. and take away your horse’s fear of them.

In my Steigerwald.T -Online Academy, you will find a variety of educational content in the form of webinars under the section Medical Training.

With which you can build and develop this cooperation!

In medical training we work with cooperation signals.

A cooperation signal is a behavior established through reward learning that gives you information about your horse’s willingness to endure and even actively cooperate with subsequent manipulations.

The main use for cooperation signals is in the area of grooming or medical procedures. They enable your horse to control the course of such measures.

Thanks to the self-efficacy thus achieved and the positive link established through the training path, your horse can learn to endure the often uncomfortable, unpleasant or even painful procedures in the treatment in a calm and relaxed manner.

Examples of cooperation signals include assuming a certain posture or performing body targets with or without aids.

The most commonly chosen cooperation signals include:

  • the basic position
  • a hoof target (ground target)
  • lower jaw target on a cooperator (see photo)
  • stationary nose target
horse cooperation

There are many other cooperation signals, supporting tools and exercises in medical training.

If you want to learn more about Medical Training and get a taste of it, I have something for you in my store. The free webinar “Introduction Medical Training”.

In this webinar with me and veterinarian Samantha Krost-Reuhl, you will learn about the basics of medical training as well as the contents of the Steigerwald.T Medical Trainer training. In addition to the theoretical background, you will get an overview of the various possibilities of application on the horse as well as first ideas for your training at home.

In order to deepen and concretize these first ideas for the training as well as for your concrete questions, there will be the live webinar Cooperation in (Medical) Training | Live Webinar on 12.07.2022 at 19:30. Here you can register directly.