The power of good posture

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Your own posture can affect your performance, movement, symmetry, breathing, comfort and muscular skeletal health, and it’s exactly the same for your horse, says equine sports therapist Gillian Higgins.

To help improve your understanding of lateral flexion and how your horse’s back moves, try this exercise:

  1. Sit on the edge of a seat.

  2. Tilt your pelvis as far forward as you can, extending and hollowing your back.

  3. Look up at the ceiling and push your shoulders back so you’re extending your back as far as you can.

  4. Now add some lateral flexion – take your left armpit towards your left hip and then repeat on the right.

  5. Now look straight ahead and tilt your pelvis the other way.

  6. Straighten your spine and flex it a bit so you can feel your abdominals recruit.

  7. Now repeat step number four. This should be much easier to do.

Good back posture is vital for a healthy, happy horse who can perform to the best of his ability. If his back is in an extended position he’ll have reduced lateral flexion and less ability to perform.

Encourage good posture 

Spend time in walk
A longer walk and a shorter walk, as well as lateral work. This is a great way to warm up before moving on to your main work in a schooling session.

Lateral work
Using lateral work will encourage him to relax if he’s tense. The action of stepping across and under his body is great for improving his posture.

Canter
This really gets your horse’s back moving and the blood pumping, helping to warm his muscles up. All horses benefit from cantering early on in their training session; the trot always looks more forward and expressive afterwards.

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