As a rider you can seriously influence how your horse works, moves and develops and there are a number of common rider errors that can have a negative impact on your horse’s posture.
The good news is that there are also a number of ways to positively change your horse’s posture and back health.
Ineffective leg aids will cause your horse to brace himself against your leg.
Gripping with your knees blocks his fore limb movement.
Balancing on the reins, using them as a balancing tool will cause your horse to lean and not engage his hind legs.
Leaning forwards will push your weight onto the horse’s forelegs.
Leaning backwards pushes your weight onto your horse’s thoracic and lumbar areas, causing him to extend his back.
Putting your horse’s feed and hay on the ground will encourage him to stretch his neck, and engage his core (unless your horse has a shorter neck, in which case haynets at chest height may be better for him).
Daily turnout where your horse can graze will also help get him stretching.
Have regular saddle checks and use a mounting block to prevent your horse developing long-term back problems.
Work your horse evenly on both reins to develop symmetry.
Use groundwork and stretching techniques to teach your horse to engage his core.
At the core of it
Dr Rachel Murray, senior orthopaedic advisor at the Animal Health Trust, expressed the importance of core stability in her presentation at the National Equine Forum earlier this month.
She said: “If you train with a horse with a poor core, they compensate, which can lead to injury.”
Rachel also advised that when it comes to training, “walk is absolutely critical.”