This weeks Tips are all about your horses posture, how important their posture is, and what we can do to improve their posture.
This area has become a specialist topic for me, as a Physiotherapist and Spinal Therapist, dealing with back issues in horses. I have a lot of experience in this area, and have found what works to improve your horses posture!
The most simplistic way to describe poor posture in the horse, is that if they have a weak ‘sagging’ back and belly, they are more likely to experience ‘Kissing Spine’ where the bones in the spine can touch, which is extremely painful for the horse.
So if we want to ride them, we need to be strengthening the horses body. To improve their posture, we need to activate and strengthen the core muscles, which in turn will strengthen and lift the back, which separates the bones in the spine that can touch.
1. If you are bringing your horse back into work after a winter break, or reduced exercise over the winter, how does your horses posture look? Does he look toned and strong in his abdominals (belly)? How does his back look - strong or sagging?
The most important type of exercise that you can do with your horse to improve their posture is CORE STRENGTHENING WORK!
2. If your horse has been diagnosed with Kissing Spine, or you are managing a horse with Kissing Spine, or you would like to PREVENT Kissing Spine happening to your horse, the most valuable type of work to be doing with your horse is core strengthening work. This work can be weaved into exercises in the stable, groundwork, lunging, and ridden work, if you know which exercises actually work!
My Ebook ‘Kissing Spine - Rehabilitation & Prevention Strategies’ is a detailed guide to Kissing Spine, what it is, how it is treated, and the follow on work that you need to be doing to thoroughly rehabilitate and strengthen your horses posture. EBOOK LINK: Ebooks
And my online training course ‘Engage your horses core’ includes lessons and videos where I explain and show you HOW to do the core strengthening exercises effectively, to transform your horses posture. ENGAGE YOUR HORSES CORE: Training course
3. Poor posture and weakness are 2 of the factors involved in the negative spiral towards Kissing Spine in horses.
If your horse is weak, lacking muscle and core strength, if you are riding you are putting pressure on the spinal joints, and some of the structures that shouldn’t be carrying the weight of saddle and rider.
Last week I talked about Springtime checks for our horses, and a full musculoskeletal check for your horse is super important, to ensure that your horse isn’t suffering with back pain. It’s something that can be easily missed as a lot of horses just carry on even though they are in pain.
I always advise regular body checks for any horse that is being ridden, as back pain can develop quickly.
4. Your first steps to addressing this issue with your horse, are to have your horse checked by a suitably qualified professional, so that you are clear about any issues with your horse. Poor posture can be as a result of lameness, ill fitting saddles, weakness, amongst others. So it’s important to know what you are dealing with.
Then you can move into a work plan for your horse which includes core strengthening work to improve their posture! I always advise some non ridden work, for all horses that I see, to give them some time to exercise without the weight of the saddle and rider on their back!
If you need help with working some of this out, please get in touch so that I can signpost you where to start.
***If you are ready to start a core strengthening plan, do take a look at my online training course ‘Engage your horses core’ where I show you how to do the exercises that work for effective core engagement, to strengthen your horse and improve his posture. He will look and feel much stronger and more comfortable, and will be easier to ride, and more symmetrical, once he is engaging his core properly. ***
ENGAGE YOUR HORSES CORE DETAILS: Training course
I hope this article is helpful, do let me know if you have any questions?