Core engagement in the stable!

core engagement Feb 19, 2021

As we are approaching Springtime, it’s time to start thinking about what we can/need to start doing with our horses to ‘get them going’ if they have had downtime or less work over the winter months.

Last week I was talking on my page and in my Practical Tips group about Motivation, and how making small manageable changes to your routine can make such a big difference to your horses!

To get ahead for Springtime, especially if you and your horse are ‘coming out of hibernation’ (!!) there are lots of small exercises that you can be doing in the stable with your horse to start the process of getting your horses body ready for ridden work.

Carrot stretches!

One of the most effective sets of exercises that you can do with your horse to activate their core muscles! They are quick, simple, your horse will enjoy doing them, and they can make a big difference to your horses posture, if done correctly and consistently!

We sit on the lowest and weakest part of their back, so it makes sense to be strengthening this section prior to riding, so that they are strong enough to carry the rider, not risking spinal injury, and they are exercising in good posture.

Variable feeding positions

This is something I have talked about quite a lot on my page and in my groups, on the face of it, it doesn’t seem to relate to core engagement does it? However…if your horse is stabled a lot, what does he spend most time doing? Standing in one position eating out of a haynet?

Horses in the wild eat from different positions…grass, bushes, trees, so there is a variety to their grazing patterns.

Translating this to domesticated horses, ensuring they have variable feeding positions in their stable over the winter especially, provides them with lots of benefits!

  • More natural way of eating (closer to wild horses)
  • More movement through the body while eating
  • Good for strengthening the neck muscles
  • Actually provides some core muscle stimulus (watch your horse eat from a high haynet, its fascinating what happens through their body!)
  • Not stuck in one position
  • Can encourage movement around the stable

If you would like to know more about this way of feeding, do take a look at my blog post: https://www.equinephysicaltherapist.co.uk/blog/variable-feeding-positions

In-hand exercises in the stable

There are so many exercises that you can do in the stable with your horse, to start preparing them for ridden work! 10-20 minutes spent on the right exercises on a daily basis will reap huge benefits for you and your horse!

With the right exercises, you can start to mobilise his body, engage his core muscles, let go and lower/lengthen his neck, start to improve his posture, and start to improve his back strength.

At this time of year while we have all had our riding and turnout time reduced, I have been recommending carrot stretches and in hand exercises in the stable or barn to my clients, and the ones who have been doing them consistently most days are seeing great results with their horses, even if they haven’t been able to exercise properly!

The in hand exercises that I recommend are in my online training course ‘Engage your horses core’, which also includes posture, postural correction, core activation exercises, and core training aids. (Training link: Training )

Just doing small exercises daily in the stable can be the foundation steps to improving your horses posture, strengthening his core, and ultimately reducing back pain.

If you would like more detailed help with implementing core exercises in the stable, do take a look at my online training 'Engage your horses core' - all of the exercises that I recommend are in there, with simple to implement, bite sized lessons and videos to show you how to do them effectively! PLUS I have set up a private members group where I provide a weekly Q&A to help all of the course members with any questions along the way! 

As always, do get in touch if I can help you...Jenny x

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