Gerd Heuschmann: A good cowboy IS a classical rider

We hear this week from Andrea Haller of Wellborn Quarter Horses. She will host Dr. Gerd Heuschmann following his appearance at the Best Horse Practices Summit. She submitted a multi-part feature to help us learn more about Heuschmann.

Haller writes:

What does good riding have to do with any specific discipline? This is the rhetorical question that Dr. Gerd Heuschmann often asked audiences.

His response:

For me, a classical rider is able to train his horse for what he wants to do, without damaging the horse’s body or mind. A good cowboy can be a classical rider, if he is a good cowboy.

Heuschmann gives us this example:

“I was visited by a cowboy from Montana a few years ago. It was his first time out of the United States. He is a great horseman, and has spent his life with cattle and horses. This cowboy worked my horse on the ground, and, I saw he was doing exactly the same thing as I do, which my biomechanical explanations say that I ought do:

➢       what happens while moving laterally?

➢       what happens to the back?

➢       what happens to the shoulders?

➢       what happens to the poll?

He’s doing the same things I do– working with his rope and he says, ‘now we open the poll,’ and he says ‘this brings the mind to the ground.’

I say, ‘Oh! He stretches the upper muscle system and the neck.’

At the end we recognize that we are both right. When the horse relaxes the muscles and starts chewing, his mind gets ‘to the ground.’ This is why we should talk more with horsemen from different disciplines.”

There are “properly-trained” Western horses who can compete Hunter under Saddle, Hunter over fences, lower-level Dressage, jumping, and 3-day eventing with no additional “training.”

How was this possible?

Heuschmann’s new book, Collection or Contortion? Exposing the Misconceptions and Exploring the Truths of Horse Positioning and Bend” is a critical examination of two concepts—flexion and bend. And it explains why this “untrained” horse with a Western background transitioned so easily to English disciplines.

In this new book, Heuschmann cites the many masters of classical dressage who wrote essays and even entire books about flexion at the horse’s poll and longitudinal bend of the horse’s body.   Dr. Heuschmann strives to fuse the complex classic literature with the results of his own studies as an expert in equine anatomy and biomechanics.

He meticulously describes various movements used, their desired effects, and the truth behind the rider’s role in each. In addition, he unveils his recommendations for dealing with the horse’s “natural crookedness” and “false bend,” providing basic guidelines for schooling that ensure correct movements with the end-goal of a more athletic, collected horse, and happier, healthier horses in the long run.

Dr. Heuschmann will be speaking at the upcoming Best Horse Practices Summit, Oct 8 – 10, in Durango, CO.

He will also be appearing Oct 21-23, 2017 in Florida, where he will present his Equine BioMechanics Lecture, Demonstrations and lessons. Please contact Andrea Haller for further information on this symposium. andreajhaller at gmail dot com Or click here.

Other clinic locations are Washington, Colorado and North Carolina.   The 2017 USA Clinic Tour is sponsored by Omega Fields (makers of Omega HorseShine) and Photonic Health of Ocala.

Posted in BestHorsePractices Summit, Clinicians.


  1. Dr. Heuschmann is a longtime friend and unrelenting advocate for all horses. I chuckled when I read your article because Gerd has always appreciated the horsemanship of good cowboys! I remember when he met the cowboy mentioned above and his admiration of the quiet cowboy’s horse sense. A good horseman is a good horseman no matter what saddle he’s sitting in.

  2. We have added a new sponsor, Schleese Saddelry.
    Jochen will be speaking at the Florida clinic and giving away one free saddle fitting. If you have not heard of Jochen, read on: Jochen graduated from Passier as a Certified Master Saddler and came to Canada in 1986 to establish the trade of saddlery in North America. Schleese Saddlery Service Ltd is the world leading manufacturer of saddles designed for women, specializing in the unique anatomical requirements of female riders. He has seen 150,000+ horses and riders!
    Jochen is the author of the best-selling “Suffering in Silence: The Saddle Fit Link to Physical and Psychological Trauma in Horses”.

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