Back strengthening exercises

BBs

Well-Known Member
Joined
7 September 2004
Messages
17,653
Location
Northamptonshire
Winston had his back looked at by the chiropractor last night, after I felt he wasnt right at our last event.

Turns out he was seriously bad across his back, pelvis and just behind the wither


I have been finding him increasingly difficult to keep straight, hes been riding on the forehand and standing square was a joke as he continued to poke his arse in
and stand crooked.

His jumping however, has been great


He was also playing up on the Pessoa - bucking like a goodun although putting in some lovely work, I now think his reaction was due to sore spots on his back.

So.... my question is - what exercises can I use to strengthen his back?

Riding him long and low is a good exercise, but this does tend to put him on his forehand.

As soon as he is able - i will start lunging again - but are there any other ideas?

Thank you
vx
 

nelliefinellie

Well-Known Member
Joined
9 May 2006
Messages
435
Trotting diagonally up hills is good as it makes them use the lateral back muscles - make sure equally both ways.

Walking in hand over raised poles - a row of logs are best as they make them step forwards as well as up - I use a row of drainage pipes - 4 in a row, 3m apart .

Trotting on lunge over ploes in a fan.

Carrot stretches - make sure warmed up first though

I would stay away from the pessoa until he's a bit stronger - maybe use a chambon to start with

If he's been checked out by vet, it might be helpful to give anti inflammatories otherwise you get into vicious circle of pain - anticipation - tension - pain.
 
Joined
7 July 2006
Messages
6
When he is fitter you can introduce gridwork to lots of flexing the neck whilst on his back. Why not long rein this will encourage the horse to use his hocks more and keep the back flexed
 

puddicat

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 April 2006
Messages
1,028
Location
mostly UK
Turns out he was seriously bad across his back, pelvis and just behind the wither

Gosh, I wonder what that means - is it that his muscles in these areas are underdeveloped ? If so did the chiro give you some exercises for him - presumably that's part of the service ?

I would be nice to establish which muscles are involved - in the pelvis region I guess it could be the gluteals - in which case do some jumping and fast work, or the longissimus, in which case do some jumping and fast work. In the whithers I'd guess it's longissimus in which case try some jumping and fast work.

I agree with nellie that trotting poles, even raised trotting poles on the lunge might be good but I can't see how carrot stretches would help as that really only involves the neck musculature.
 

BBs

Well-Known Member
Joined
7 September 2004
Messages
17,653
Location
Northamptonshire
I should say that, back in May Winston went belly up in the trakhener at Aston le Walls and so was treated after this - he was sore around his middle and just behind the saddle.

He has been fine since. He does have a weakness here unfortunately - he is croup high and although staying in a nice outline - he tends to go on to his forehand and doesnt come through from behind - this is due to when he was ridden as a youngster he had been ridden in draw reins and not ridden up into the contact
hence the weakness behind the saddle.

He rolls for fun, which also causes him to tweek something - and in his box he has got cast a couple of times too - resulting in another chiro visit.

All the advise i was given was stay off his back for 2 days and put him on the walker.

He is fit, as he is eventing fit! we have lack of hills here unfortunately, but your advice about going up hills diagonally sounds interesting and i am now on the hunt for a hill in my area lol

I do use raised trotting poles but not as often as i should so will give that a go too.

Thanks again

vxx
 

siennamum

Well-Known Member
Joined
18 February 2004
Messages
5,565
Location
Bristol
This is exactly the same problem I have with Sienna, it was caused by a fall a couple of years ago and there is now a weakness behind her withers which is effectively a trapped nerve.
Once put right by the chiro - which only takes 10 minutes, she's right as rain for months/years, or until she has another trauma. It's very subtle and unless you know the signs you wouldn't think there was anything wrong.
She also is built downhill and has issues with engagement!
We have fantastic hills and I use them lots, also do as much slow walking work as possible, we went out for 2.5 hrs on Sunday
Lovely.
I'm also getting my saddle rechecked
, it's easy sometimes to forget the obvious causes of soreness.......?
 
Joined
7 July 2006
Messages
6
I totally recommend the use of a saddle with flair. My old horse had a severely sprained sacro-iliac and went to a rehabilitation centre. They all used them to encourage the back muscles to work without the restrictions you find with conventional flocking. It is superb and I so recommend I have been converted for the last 6 years. I recently got a normal flocked dressage saddle which has caused my mare more discomfort - even though profesionally fitted
 

seabiscuit

Well-Known Member
Joined
30 July 2005
Messages
6,228
What kind of chiropractor is it you are using? Do you use a physio as well? Cos some physio's have an H wave machine that is excellent for releasing very deep muscle spasm which could have become tight through everything being 'out'.

Also do think that a lot of saddles, although they 'fit' the horse, it doesnt mean to say that a horse wont be better in another saddle. The problem you describe of Winston having trouble coming off his forehand sounds classic of a saddle that might be catching on the shoulders,and thus trap the wither, which can happen in a lot of saddles that supposedly fit.
I know that I have gone on and on about the saddle company saddles rather a lot, and that they do look a bit embarrasing and 'cheap', but I can't tell you what a phenomanal difference they made to my horses way of going. They were carrying themselves, the moved staighter, and they were halting square consistently. (which was a game of luck before). My trainer's jaw dropped open when she saw the improvement in my boys with their new saddles. And they are only £500 new!

Also have you heard of Gavin Schofield? He is a healer/osteopath, really works magic on improving horses and straightening them out. He does Carl Hesters horses, the Loriston Clarkes, Rodney Powell and was working at Badders and Burghley- have used him for years and have never failed to be impressed.
 

ss1

Well-Known Member
Joined
26 May 2006
Messages
213
Location
Kent
I had the same problem with my horse, she had a sore back and hence was inclined to work on her forehand with no real engagement from behind. The following exercise works wonders for her, it encourages her to engage from behind and really lightens her forehand.

Ride the centre line of the school, after a couple of steps take a diagonal path across the school, after a couple of steps half halt and do a turn on the forehand of about 90 degrees (so that you are going across the school on the other diagonal crossing the centre line), walk a couple of steps and then half half and turn on the forehand to the other diagonal. Keep doing this for the whole length of the school and then walk back down the long side allowing a proper stretch.

I hope this makes sense, think of it as riding a zig-zag up the centre line of the school but half halt and turn on the forehand to change direction. Once you have this mastered you can add a couple of steps of leg yield by turning on the forehand so that you are parallel with the centre line and then leg yield a couple of steps, then turn on the forehand to cross the centre line again. This exercise should only be done in walk and the aim should be that it flows with no stopping hence maintaining the rhythm of the walk through the turning. It really works, my horse is now so incredibly light in my hands, working properly and doesn't get stroppy about the contact.
 

nelliefinellie

Well-Known Member
Joined
9 May 2006
Messages
435
'I can't see how carrot stretches would help as that really only involves the neck musculature'

You offer the carrot from between their front legs so they have to round their back. You need a big carrot and the idea is not to give them the carrot straight away but to make them pull on it - you will really see the thoracic and lumbar area raise - honestly!
 

puddicat

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 April 2006
Messages
1,028
Location
mostly UK
OK, its a fair cop, I thought when i wrote it I might get taken to pieces.


I thought as You offer the carrot from between their front legs so they have to round their back.

Yeah I thought that's where you might be going - of course they don't have to round their back but I the take the point that they do if you enter into a fight over the carrot...


You need a big carrot and the idea is not to give them the carrot straight away but to make them pull on it

What a lovely image this is, wouldn't a rubber carrot be better - in any fight I've had involving carrots they tend to snap pretty easily


you will really see the thoracic and lumbar area raise - honestly!

No I believe you but I'll tell you why I ummed and arrred and eventually posted the comment. The post was about strengthening back muscles, and although I'm still not clear what the chiro ment by "seriously bad accross his back pelvis and behind the whithers" I guess in the absence of any other info I concluded that there was a need to increase muscle mass in this area.

So how to increase muscle mass - easy contraction under load, preferably shortening contraction. So the question reduces to "what can you do that will make the back muscles switch on an either generate a large amount of force and preferably shorten. In horses there is relatively [compared to a dog say] little movement in the spine so shortening contractions under any significant load occur in the lumbar region at canter gallop and jump - hence my answer.

Carrot stretches, or anything that causes a horse to arch its back requires the back muscles above the vertebrae (epaxial muscles) to lengthen so they will probably be relaxed. This is potentially useful for increasing suppleness, and might be a good thing to do after exercise but it wouldn't cause the muscles we're interested in to increase their mass and hence strength. That's where I was coming from really.

I think its a really fascinating subject and one of those posts that opens up all sorts of questions for which there aren't particularly good answers.
 

Lucy_Ally

Well-Known Member
Joined
22 June 2004
Messages
2,494
Location
Surrey
I agree with Puddicat, it depends which muscles are affected and what the problem is. Is it a lack of suppleness? Is it a lack of strength? Are the muscles injured/spasming? In which case they would all be treated differently. Carrot stretches are useful for assessing flexibility but not necessarily increasing muscle strength or easing sore muscles.
Ideally your chiropractor should have given you appropriate exercises to address the problem. Encouraging engagement of the hindquarters will obviously help strengthen hindquarter and back muscles, but this should only be done if the muscles are not injured or painful as this will just create resistance in the horse and may lead to over-use of already damaged muscles and further problems. I would be inclined to talk to your chiro and get them to tell you what he means, if there is pain there then I would be looking at getting the your vet involved as well.
 

ihatework

Well-Known Member
Joined
7 September 2004
Messages
19,550
LOL - naughty puddicat, no milk for you tonight !!
Seriously though, latter part of your explanation was really useful, I continue to learn from you, thank you!
 

puddicat

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 April 2006
Messages
1,028
Location
mostly UK
It guess it would have to have a realistic carrot smell but I'm sure thats possible. I used to have a pencil eraser that smelt of strawberries.
 

nelliefinellie

Well-Known Member
Joined
9 May 2006
Messages
435
Wow! I just got back to this post and can't believe the debate I have generated by the mention of a simple carrot!

Thanks God I didn't also mention pulling on the horse's tail and leaning back against it for 30 seconds ....
 

puddicat

Well-Known Member
Joined
16 April 2006
Messages
1,028
Location
mostly UK
yes you should never mention carrots it always brings out the worst in people.

Thank goodness indeed you didn't mention pulling on the horses tail because I'd feel compelled to explain why its a unimaginably ridiculous thing to do. Mind you I once had to sit in silence and listen to a "well known" equine osteopath describe to an audience of sports horse owners how beneficial its was. I think I suggested she should try it with a dobermann - if she could find one with a tail.
 
Joined
26 July 2006
Messages
5
hi what was your horses symptoms with trapped nerve at wither
our mare was diagnosed first as a head shaker because she would twitch her ears alot tilt head to side like a spasm then put her head to the ground she was really unrideable second vet said thought she may have slight kissing spines of the withers? after long rest slow and gradual start of work cortaflex gel pads, massage she is hacking out all paces with no signs of distress though i feel she is slightly crooked and if asked to do a little flat work trot much improved but canter gets panicky leaps into gets disunited on bad rein and falls in on good rein all very rushed though i have to say she has always been quite strong think we will have to keep to walk trot transitions for now, any ideas?
thanks
 
Top