Two easy ways to tone your horse's topline


A toned topline is a sure sign of a strong horse. It not only looks impressive, but it’ll also help your horse in his work, as he’ll feel fitter and be able to carry himself better.

There are plenty of easy and effective exercise you can try at home to achieve a topline that would make Valegro proud. We’ve got two for you here.

Supple him on a serpentine

To get your horse feeling supple over his back (which strengthens his topline muscles), he first needs to be supple through his midsection, meaning he can bend easily through his rib cage, around your inside leg.

In this exercise you’ll be riding a three-loop serpentine with your horse in a long and low frame. This is to help him relax and develop topline muscle.

If you’re worried this will put your horse on the forehand, the transitions in the middle of the exercise give him the chance to re-gain his balance.

How to ride it:

  • Go large in trot on the right rein and establish an even rhythm
  • At one end of the arena or paddock, begin your three-loop serpentine. Encourage your horse to work in a round outline but let him stretch
  • As you cross the centre line, walk for three to four steps, keeping a soft, round outline as you change the bend
  • Pick up the trot again to continue your serpentine

Ride it a couple of times as part of your regular warm up routine. If you’re finding it easy, try adding more loops to your serpentine

Stretch him in canter

Canter work is an effective way to work your horse’s back and get him stretching.

This exercise focuses on working and teasing out tension in a muscle just in front of his wither that’s often underdeveloped.

It’ll highlight how supple your horse is as he’ll need to stretch his neck in canter without losing balance.

How to ride it:

  • Go large around your school in a working canter in a light seat, keeping a round outline
  • Come onto a 20m circle, keeping an even rhythm in canter
  • On one half of your circle, ask for a bit more bend to the inside
  • Release the bend and continue to canter on the circle
  • For half a circle, flex your horse’s neck to the outside
  • Release and continue your canter around the circle
  • Go large and change direction to repeat on the other rein
  • Ride it two to three times on both reins. This is also a useful exercise to ride as part of your warm up

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