I recently spent 3 days with Jim Crew, creator of Healthy Stride, and saw horses make some incredible changes in what they were offering after Jim began to make changes in the shoeing to obtain optimal balance. I signed up for one of the 3 day options that Jim offers to horse owners to increase my education, as I have become convinced that we can’t truly put the relationship first with our horse if our horse is uncomfortable or in pain. How could I ever expect my horse to offer a specific lead, a lead change, or even to pick up a specific foot from a stand still if she isn’t in balance? My personal discoveries with my horse have been incredibly eye opening. I have been able to experiment with boots, being that my horse was barefoot, and assess that she was not only out of balance due to an old injury that has been causing major stifle pain, but that she was just plain uncomfortable walking around on the corral and rocks in Hawaii with her bare feet. I realized she has been trying so hard for years to offer me what I would ask for, but was in pain or discomfort, and couldn’t do what I was asking many times. I learned from Jim about the 4 things that cause muscle atrophy…trim, injury, saddle fit, and unbalanced rider. I learned about how detrimental a long toe and low heel can be to a horse and that a low heel can cause a sore back, and how if a horse’s body is out of balance, the horse is affected neurologically, as well. I was able to get a better understanding about the fine line between postural versus conformational. The information I gained was incredible, but the time spent watching Jim do assessments, then make the changes the horse needed was the most helpful. Jim has not only an incredible eye for angles and seeing what needs to be fixed, but an amazing knowledge of the horse’s body biomechanically and how the two are directly related. By looking at the body, we discover where our horses need balance and that can be improved so often with the trim or shoeing. I see more and more how the health of the whole horse will allow me to best be able to put the relationship first and find the connection I’m looking for.