Our horse’s backs are so important because we sit on them!
When we ride a horse the additional weight on the spine is supported by the back and abdominal muscles. If the horse doesn’t have the strength or capacity to carry the weight of the rider, the muscles are easily fatigued and can lead to sagging vertebrae and many other issues requiring veterinarian support.
Topline isn’t just the back and abdominals, its also the muscles along the neck, withers, loin, and hindquarters.
We ride regularly and we need to give topline just as much attention to keep a sound freely moving horse. Signs that you might need to focus on some bodywork or muscle conditioning are:
- Your horse starts not tracking up as much as they should
- Lost impulsion or straightness
- Showing some signs of resistance to work forward into the contact
Visually you may notice some changes to your horse’s posture or body:
- sunken muscle either side of the withers
- the neck is concave or hollow
- the muscle surrounding the hip bones have sunken
- vertebrae are higher than the muscle
Time off having a spell, an injury and box rest can certainly lead to wasting topline muscles. An underlying veterinarian issue may also contribute and even simply not enough of the right fitness work
Some horses simply don’t have enough topline strength for the work we are trying to do with them. They might resist contact, or struggle to canter or fall in and out of the circle. Taking a step back as an owner and assessing to see if your topline is adequate can ease the frustrations of not moving forward despite your hard work. Before you get started on conditioning with your horse, ensure your saddle fits and that your feet are balanced. Tack causing discomfort or sore feet can lead to your horse moving cautiously with hesitation, this will impact muscle development.
You can have someone come and assist you with bodywork and suggest exercises to incorporate that are unique to your horse. If you don’t have the time or money then a great start is to start incorporating low walks encouraging your horse to stretch his neck low and swing freely. Consider getting off his back for a few weeks to a month and take him back to lunge work that’s long and low, really get him stretching across the back and tracking from the hind. The freer they can move on a lunge, the stronger they are when you get on. We all love riding and its really hard to take a break from this and lunge our horse. It really is the best way to start and take them back to basics if your thinking your topline needs more attention.
Get started and if you see results and want more support give me a message!