Mobilise - Activate - Strengthen
This is a simple strategy that can be applied to EVERY HORSE!
Whether going through rehabilitation, bringing your horse back into work, correcting your horses posture and movement, following kissing spine diagnosis, starting young horses, working with senior horses to improve and maintain their flexibility, horses with arthritis…. ALL of these horses will benefit from working on these important foundations!
And by using mobility and flexibility work first, THEN activating the important deep core and postural muscles, and then systematically strengthening in a safe way, you will help prevent injury, and train your horse to work effectively all the way through his body.
By looking at your training in this way, whether you compete, hack, or do groundwork only, and adding mobilisation exercises, then activation exercises, then strengthening exercises - IN THIS ORDER - you will be able to unpick all of the blocking, and compensation in the body, and reset your horse, so that he can work symmetrically, using all of his body, and work without restriction.
I have worked with a lot of injured horses, in particular horses with ‘kissing spine’, and have found with all of them that they are using their body unequally, they have compensation in their body, locking patterns, and have found ways to move to cope with their problems.
These type of horses need to learn how to move after the pain has been ‘removed’, so it’s all about retraining the brain and the body. They need to slowly learn how to use their body symmetrically, let go of their bracing patterns, use their core and back effectively instead of blocking in the back, and move in a relaxed, loose way. And this can be much more difficult than it sounds.
I also see horses that are not carrying a specific injury, but are not moving that well, maybe a bit stiff, been out of work etc, and need to go through some movement rehabilitation, to learn how to use their body in a better, more effective way, to reduce the risk of injury, and engage the whole of their body in exercise.
Long term natural crookedness (left- or right-handedness), and (potential) poor posture, are two of the issues that also affect all of our horses naturally, and are issues that we need to work on at a foundational level.
So back to Mobilise - Activate - Strengthen as a strategy!
This is the way that I have found is most effective to train horses…coming from a physiotherapy point of view. And the way I teach all of this to horse owners is to add it in as a new foundational layer of training for your horse, that you work on daily to help with symmetry, posture, flexibility, core strength and correct movement.
If you add this new layer of training in to your horses regime, whatever activity/sport/type of exercise you do with your horse, the rest of your work with him will be so much improved! Symmetrical, flexible, working over the back, and ease of movements!
MOBILISE: move joints / parts of the horse body through their range of motion, to loosen structures that are tight, mobilise the body so that all parts are working equally, and release stiff areas / joints / muscles. You can learn how to do specific exercises in the stable and within groundwork to fully mobilise your horses body. Your horse will love these exercises as they start to feel looser on day 1 and improve day after day!
ACTIVATE: switch on muscles / areas of the body prior to exercise, switch on deep stabilisers and deep postural muscles with specific targeted exercises. Activating your horses core will over time help to improve your horses posture, by developing strong abdominals, and (if done regularly) will increase the size of the important postural muscles, the multifidus.
STRENGTHEN: once the body is mobilised and flexible, and the deep stabilisers and postural muscles are switched on, we can then move into strengthening work!
Working in this order: there is no point strengthening a horse that has poor posture, is crooked, and stiff. All we do in this case is strengthen a negative posture. So time is better spent on mobilising the body so that it is more flexible, and low impact symmetry training at the beginning of any retraining/back into work/rehabilitation process.
Particularly horses that are going through kissing spine rehabilitation, or other injury rehabilitation, it’s important to realise that your horse is likely to have been compensating for some time, so to get the best end result with your horse, there is quite a lot of unravelling to do.
It’s important to work on mobilising the body, working on flexibility and symmetry and core strength first, so that we start to correct the issues in the horses body, and the long term negative patterns, PRIOR to doing much strengthening work.
DO YOU NEED HELP WITH PUTTING THIS INTO PRACTICE?
If you are ready to start the improvement process with your horse, and are ready to commit to the journey and make some changes to your exercise routines, to enable your horse to be the very best version of themselves, I CAN HELP YOU!
I have broken all of this work down into bitesized training videos that are easy to implement with your horses. I will show you how to do core mobilisation exercises, core activation exercises, simple groundwork exercises, thoracic sling strengthening exercises, as well as teach you the art of lunging.
In all of my training modules, I explain WHY as well as HOW to do the exercises, and show you videos of me doing all of the exercises with my horse, so that you can learn all of my techniques, and tips and tricks to work out where your horse is cheating, and how to stop this happening!
All of these training videos are available on my Online Learning Platform, which is my growing library of training modules, covering all aspects of correct exercise for your horses, foundational training methods, modules on posture, crookedness, and the back and core, training on kissing spine, practical arthritis management, nutrition, and much more!
On joining you will get access to all of the training modules, plus access to my members training group, with weekly live talks and Q&A sessions!
I have set all of this up to help horse owners with implementing important foundational training, and training your horse in a sympathetic, corrective way, so that he is able to work correctly over his back, and is strong enough to carry a rider, as well as helping to train him to use his limbs symmetrically, to help counteract his natural crookedness pattern.
I would love to help support you in this journey with your horse, and by joining my members group, you will have access to a full package of learning, training videos and lessons on all of the exercises outlined, assessment tasks, new training every month, live talks and Q&A’s in the member’s group, plus chat and friendship with like minded horse owners in the group!
Interested? Click here for more details: Online Learning Platform
QUESTIONS? Please contact me via the Contact page on my website, always happy to answer questions and guide you to what you need.
Just add your email address and you will join my mailing list - you will receive my weekly blog direct to your inbox, AND be the FIRST to be alerted of my NEW offers, training courses, products and ebooks!