Modern lifestyles have imposed conditions on horses (not just horses) that are unfavorable to maintaining long term health.  Examples are stall living (isolation and inactivity), metal shoes and high performance expectations all of which demand increasingly complicated interventions (physiotherapy, elaborate shoes and pads, joint injections, supplements, etc.) as compensation. At Riverdance farm, attempts are made to minimize unnatural conditions so that horses will require less therapeutic intervention and can live longer, healthier lives.  The horses are maintained primarily outside in herds, are shoeless (trimmed in the barefoot style of Pete Ramey) and are trained daily.  They come in the barn for a short period every day and during bad weather.

Training is approached from the paradoxical angle of “what does this horse have to teach us?”  (trainer and owner).  Much of the initial training involves free lunge work where the horse is taught to engage its whole body in a genuine commitment to forward.  Restrictive devices such as side reins, saddle and bridle are rarely used until the horse can calmly push into greater impulsion and rebalance itself from a body language signal.  The ease or difficulty of this process and any resistances observed will be the studying material for trainer and owner.  This information is then included in the training program of the horse to help it adapt to and make sense of the world of humans as it progresses through to becoming a co-operative and confident mount for any level of rider in any discipline. 

More advanced riding technique comes with the increasing refinement and directional guidance of the same two principles – impulsion and rebalancing.  As such it is the work of a lifetime…