Cynthia Adams & Dominique Basic Grade 2
in STories

Cynthia Adams & Dominique Basic Grade 2

Cynthia Adams from Canada graduated in the Straightness Training Academy in the basics of Grade 2. This means, Cynthia passed all Touchstones from the ground, so that's in the training pillars Groundwork, Longeing, Work in hand, and ST at Liberty! Cynthia is a Scholar in the Basic ST Instructor Certification Program and this month, she passed her Work in Hand Grade 2 Touchstone with her mare Dominique, and with that milestone, she has passed all 4 Touchstones from the ground in Grade 2. Congratulations Cynthia, and keep up the good work in the Certification Program!

And thanks, Cynthia, for taking the time to share your Straightness Training STory:
Prior to Straightness Training, I rode client horses professionally. I did not own a riding horse myself, but I decided to join the Straightness Training program in January of 2017 with my broodmare Dominique. Dominique had some soundness issues and ST seemed like a great way to help keep her active without having to ride her. I would say our biggest struggle and setback before ST (as well as the first years of ST) was dealing with Dominique’s relapses of pain and stiffness:
  • As a yearling, Dominique sustained a severe back injury. I found her spinning on the ground unable to stand up. At two, she had a relapse and my vet told me to euthanize her. Which I could not. I started her under saddle, but riding was too much for her. On the other hand, if she did not get any exercise her legs would swell up (sometimes like posts), so light exercise was good for her.
  • At 4, Dominique severed her extensor tendon in her right front leg while at a breeding facility. Suddenly bucking was her new talent. I would later come to realize that there was a direct relationship between how much she bucked and how much her back hurt.
Dealing with a horse with chronic soundness issues and pain can be very frustrating and heartbreaking. I raised Dominique as a foal and of course my original goal with her was to ride her. I would say frustration is the best word to describe how I felt when Dominique has bad days with pain and stiffness. I wanted to change this. I wanted Dominique to be as comfortable as possible and euthanasia (as the vet suggested) was not an option in my mind. 

I discovered Straightness Training after watching a video of Marijke on Facebook. I was blown away by the beauty of her liberty work. I ended up joining the program as the exercises on the ground appeared to be something I could do with Dominique. Not only would it help me keep Dominique active, but it would also help ME mentally. The ST exercises were much more interesting than the traditional style lunging that I was getting tired of. I was very excited to try out of the variety of exercises in the ST program. ST was the best decision I made for both of us

I started taking the logical steps of progressive exercises and Touchstones. My original goal with ST was to keep Dominique active to help keep down her swelling. And the Touchstones were a great way to keep me focused on what goals to set and activities to work towards. Each pillar helped build up towards the other pillars. Once you go through all the pillars, it is interesting to see how each pillar contributes to the other pillars. For example, having a good liberty helps improve our horse’s mental state and helps riders become more aware of their own body language. This can result in better communication and a better relationship with our horses that can transfer into all other areas of our work with them (including riding). 

If I hadn’t chosen to embark on this ST Journey, there is a strong chance that Dominique would still be a broodmare. Dominique was a good mom and loved her babies. However, if we had stayed that route, she never would have reached the physical condition she is in now, which means she would likely still be struggling with soundness issues and pain. After the first year of ST, we completed all our pillars on the ground in Grade 1 and Dominique was in much better shape. She didn’t have the typical swellings in her legs that she previously had and she was significantly stronger. Unfortunately, she would still buck when she picked up a canter out in the field and on the lunge. I thought I would test fate and try to ride her. To no surprise, she did buck me off. Lol. I decided I wouldn’t attempt to ride her again until she stopped bucking in her field and on the lunge.

After two winters of ST, Dominique suddenly stopped bucking when I worked her and I was able to successfully ride her. Shortly after that decision, I had to quit riding due to my own chronic knee problem. But that’s okay as we continue to enjoy our time together. Without ST, I likely would have given up on horses when I had to stop riding. So ST has been a blessing to both Dominique and myself

Fast forward to 2022 … We have now passed all the pillars on the ground in Grade 2 and Dominique is in the best shape of her life! And still no bucking when I work her! 

Even though Dominique still has some bad days once in a while with stiffness, she hasn’t had any real issues for over a year now. She used to get massage or chiropractic treatments 1 to 4 times a month to help her compensate with her pain. However, in this past year we have been able to reduce that down to only 2 times a year!! I can say with certainty that ST is a great way to help rehab horses that can’t be ridden. I highly recommend it!
~ Cynthia Adams, Canada

You, too, can use ST to rehabilitate your horse

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