The proper functioning of the back and neck is an important
basis for maintaining the horse’s performance. For this
reason, health care should be high on the agenda of any horse
Confirmation And Build
When selecting your horse for a particular discipline, you
should always pay attention to the horse’s build.
Many breeds have been selectively bred for years to achieve
certain goals and are therefore suitable for particular
disciplines such as dressage, jumping or western riding.
Horses with long backs often have a tendency towards muscle
and ligament injuries, whereas horses with an upright shoulder
often have problems in their forelegs.
Massage encourages circulation and metabolism within the
muscles, promoting the supply of nutrients and removal of
toxins. Massage relaxes tense muscles enabling them to function
better. It can also promote healing in muscular injuries
by loosening muscle fiber adhesions and increasing the flow
of fluid and toxins from the tissue.
Horses have an increasing tendency to subluxate and damage
the spine if ligaments, tendons and muscles have not been
developed to cope with the demands they are placed under.
Interval training, suitable warm-up procedures and variety
in training can help optimally condition sport horses.
Equipment And Saddle
Ensure that your saddle fits your horse. If a saddle fits
correctly, no thick padded saddle cloth/numnah or additional
pads are necessary. Check your saddle regularly to see whether
the flocking is evenly worn, there is asymmetry of the panels
or tree and that the saddle tree is intact. Any dampness
under the saddle area after riding should be even in distribution.
It is practically impossible for a poorly shod horse or
a horse with badly fitting shoes to have or maintain a spine
that functions properly. Heels that are too high or underrun,
toes that are too long or uneven hoof wall length can negatively
affect the mobility and posture of the horse. For the limb
and spinal joints to function properly, it is necessary
for the horse to be correctly trimmed or shod.
Many horses are forced into a desired frame with side-reins,
martingales, draw-reins and other auxiliary reins. Used
correctly, some of these aids can help in training; however,
in the wrong hands they do the opposite. If a restriction
in the spine already exists, these aids can make the problem
even worse. Continual jerking and pulling on the lead rope
or chain, especially with young horses, can lead to tension
in the poll and neck area.
Most sport horses are still kept in stables with limited
space in which to move about and turnout is often restricted.
The more time a horse spends in the stable without freedom
of movement, the worse its coordination becomes. Its natural
balance suffers, leading to an increased danger of injury.
Bucking and rolling are the horse’s natural means
of mobilizing its spine. Make sure your horse gets enough