Sit straight, don’t slouch, shoulders back – we know how important good posture is to ourselves, but what about our horses?
Simply put, a horse with good posture will generally stand upright and well balanced. His cannon bones should be perpendicular to the ground with the center of mass behind his elbows and aligned below where the rider sits.
Try these simple posture improvement exercises and treatments to keep your horse looking its best.
1. Book a physiotherapist
Not only will a physio be able to detect muscle issues, but they can also alleviate soft tissue discomfort and associated compensations, helping to improve their posture. To find a qualified equine physiotherapist, make an appointment www.acpat.org.
2. Carrot stretches
Carrot stretches encourage your horse to stretch his neck and back, developing his balance, coordination and muscles. Make sure it’s thoroughly warmed up before you begin. It’s also worth discussing with your vet or physio to make sure they’re right for your horse before incorporating them into his routine.
3. Ride streamers
Working at a walk and trot, incorporate three or four looping coils into your workouts. The shape of the curls will increase movement and bend to your horse’s body. Simple and efficient !
4. Practice pole vaulting
Use trotting poles to help build your horse’s strength through his back and increase his range of motion. Lay out four poles 4 feet (1.2m) apart and trotted over them.
5. Change surfaces
Different surfaces can impact your horse’s movement and posture. Too deep and he needs to focus on his balance, as well as propelling himself forward. Uneven ground means he won’t be able to apply equal weight to his steps. Flat surfaces that don’t absorb shock, such as tarmac, can compromise posture.
The solution is to train your horse on varied terrain, ensuring that it is quality terrain with no deep surfaces. This will be beneficial as he learns to deal with the change of foot.
6. Check your horse’s tack
An ill-fitting outfit can lead to postural compensations, which can lead to lameness. For example, if a saddle pinches to one side, the horse wearing it will not work symmetrically, developing uneven muscles and putting strain on its legs.
Bridles also have a role to play. Research on the pressure associated with bridles has shown that when neck and noseband pressure is reduced, horse locomotion improves.
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