6 ways to improve your horse's posture

Sit up straight, don't slouch, shoulders back - we know the importance of good posture for ourselves but what about our horses? 

In layman's terms, a horse with good posture will generally stand square and be well balanced. His cannon bones should be perpendicular to the ground with the centre of mass behind his elbows and aligned below where you, the rider, would sit. 

Try these simple posture-perfecting exercises and treatments to keep your horse at his best. 

1. Book a physiotherapist

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Not only will a physio be able to spot muscular issues, but they'll also be able to alleviate soft tissue discomfort and associated compensations, helping to improve his posture. 

To find a qualified equine physiotherapist visit www.acpat.org

2. Carrot stretches 

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Only try these if your horse has been assessed by a professional to rule out previous neck trauma, etc., and when he's been fully warmed up. 

Carrot stretches encourage him to stretch through his neck and back, developing balance, muscle and coordination. 

Try asking him to reach down to the outside of his fetlock. 

Let him nibble on the carrot so that he holds the position. Repeat on the other side. 

3. Ride serpentines 

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Working in walk and trot, incorporate three or four loop serpentines into your schooling sessions.

The shape of the loops will increase the movement and bend through your horse's body. Simple and effective! 

4. Practise pole work

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Use trotting poles to help develop your horse's strength through his back and increase his joint range motion. Set out four poles, 4ft (1.2m) apart and trot over them. 

5. Switch surfaces

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Different surfaces can impact on your horse's movement and his posture. Too deep and he has to concentrate on his balance, as well as propelling himself forward. 

Uneven ground means he'll be unable to apply equal weight to his footfalls. Flat, non-shock absorbing surfaces, such as tarmac, can compromise his posture.

The solution is to cross-train your horse on varied terrain - making sure it's quality terrain without deep surfaces. 

It'll be beneficial as he'll learn to cope with the changing footing. 

6. Check your horse's tack 

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Ill-fitting tack can result in postural compensations, which can lead to lameness. For example, if a saddle pinches on one side, the horse wearing it won't work symmetrically, building up uneven muscle and applying strain on his legs. 

Bridles also have a part to play. Research into the pressure associated with bridles has shown that when poll and noseband pressure is reduced, horse locomotion improves. 

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