A recent four-day clinic sponsored by Diamond Bar Arena in rural Ceres was held to expose "The Secret Behind the Biomechanics of the Horse." In reality, it was an effort to explain to owners that horses have a natural crookedness to their run and ways to train it out of them.
The Nov. 28-Dec. 2 clinic was taught by Klaus Schoneich, who was flown in from Germany where he owns and operates The Center for Anatomically Correct Horsemanship. Schoneich has an extensive knowledge about the anatomy and biomechanics of horses and has developed the "crookedness therapy." Schoneich, who has been around horses and worked with them since he was a child, developed the concept of "straightness training" in 1985. He has received worldwide interest and travels all over the world teaching clinics such as the one in Ceres. Schoneich has also written a book, "Correct Movement in Horses."
While in Ceres he worked 10 horses twice a day while other horse owners and enthusiasts could watch. His primary tool is a device called a Lunging cavesson.
"In Germany it usually takes 30 days for the training but he condensed it into four days," said Kim Parson, co-owner of the arena. "He trained the owner how to maintain and continue it."
She likened the training to taking an athlete and helping them with their balance and to become more ambidextrous. The horse will become more sound and not grow lame, she said.
Designed by nature to be a flight animal - to run for survival from predators - the horse still has certain flight instincts today that are deeply anchored in riding horses. Learning about what muscles are involved when a horse runs and how to correct the natural crookedness of the horse's spine, along with the body mechanics involved are key factors to transforming the horse into an athlete and promoting a horse's soundness.
"Horses, like humans and all mammals, have a dominant side - they are right or left-handed," said Schoneich. "And horses literally put their best foot forward. When in trouble they put that foot forward to get themselves out of it; this entails putting more weight on that leg and shoulder. The result is that the horse becomes ‘naturally' crooked."
During his travels, mostly in the United States and Spain, Schoneich acquired much of his extensive knowledge of riding styles, horse breeds, horse anatomy and biomechanics.
The expenses of the visit were shared with the Pacifica Equestrian Center in Wilton where Schoneich offered the same services.
"We're asking him for dates next year. He seemed to enjoy it. When he goes all over the world we were lucky to have him here. He's in his 70s but moving with the energy of a teenager. He's really super cool."