Keep your horse fit by trying a few simple exercises and stretches that will support a healthy body.
On the Ground
Get out your treats and try a few simple stretches. Never manipulate his body in an unnatural way, rather, try gentle bending exercises.
- Hold a treat in front of his nose, then slowly bring it to his barrel, about two feet away from his side. Allow him to hold it for a few seconds, then reward him and move over to the other side.
- Another option, place the treat in-between his front legs and by his chest. This allows a deep flexion of the neck muscles, and will encourage a stretch of the back.
- Place your fingers under the belly, by the girth area, and gently scratch. You should notice him immediately lift and hold his back. You can ask him to hold this position for a few seconds, and then reward him.
In the Ring
There are quite a few good exercises to practice while in the arena. You should keep your horse interested by practicing only for a few minutes, and then moving on to the next activity. Try a few transitions from walk-trot-walk and walk-canter-walk. This will encourage him to engage his core muscles and lift his back. Ground poles are also beneficial when trying to build the topline muscles.
Out on the Trail
Trail riding can be much more helpful than you imagined. Unlike the flat arena, the unleveled terrain can work with you when trying to build back muscles. Ask your horse to walk up hills and trot down smaller ones. Make sure to stay light in the saddle and not get in his way. It is also a great idea to allow him to stretch his neck down on a loose rein.
Every horse owner can work to strengthen their horse’s back muscles no matter where they are. Start slowly and work your way up. Just like any athlete, allow your horse the proper amount of time to build the muscles. The end result is worth it!