Balancing exercises from the dvd Activate your Horses’ Core by Dr. Hilary Clayton and Dr. Narelle Stubbs. This is one in a series of notes I’ve written to record my horses’ progress.
Disclaimer: I highly recommend you consult your vet and chiropractor first, and read and research if these exercises are appropriate for your horse due to his training, health, age, and past medical history. I am posting this information primarily for my own benefit as notes and to record progress of my own horses.
Exercises are started 3x working up to 5x each, held 3-5 seconds, done 3-5x a week, post regular exercise (so muscles are warmed up prior). It is preferred that the horses’ body remains straight and square, with no backing up.
Balancing exercises are advanced and it’s recommended that you do the other set of exercises (Mobilization and Core) for months before proceeding. I will mention these here briefly but since I will be doing only the weight shifts and tail pulls, I note them here only for future goals.
Backward Weight Shift – a subtle weight shift back, by using a hand – moving upwards and backwards – applying pressure on a pectoral muscle with the other hand resting on the spine to feel the lift. The key is for a subtle shift back that does not result in a backwards step. Big Guy has already been doing this exercise.
Thought: if your horse is heavy on the forehand, asking for these shifts back, starts to improve his strength in supporting himself properly, and helps him understand what you want him to do.
Using the Linda Tellington-Jones Balance Rein, I can ask for this shift back from the saddle.
Lumbosacral Lifting & Backward Weight Shift – the pelvic tilt is facilitated with pressure above the tail, and the horse is asked to shift back from the sternum (see above) at the same time. Very advanced. Future goal for Big Guy.
Tail Pull – Unlike the Linda Tellington-Jones TTouch of the same name, this is not a backwards pull on the tail but a tail pull that is done by moving the tail to the side. The horse resists the pull and engages his muscles isometrically.
Strengthens the superficial gluteals, the Biceps Femoris and Tenor Fascia Lata – is important in Big Guy’s rehabilitation from his pelvis fracture (01-09) as these muscles all control pelvic activity.
Tail Pull / Combined Facilitation – Sternum and Belly Lift with the Tail Pull (see above). Future goal for Big Guy.
Forelimb Destabilization Exercises – future goal for Big Guy. Action is lifting one foreleg, holding and asking for weight shift backwards – generally to the opposite hindleg of the foreleg being held up. Can be combined (very advanced) with a pelvic tilt.
Hindlimb Destabilization Exercises – future goal for Big Guy. Action is lifting one hindleg, holding and asking for weight shift backwards. Can be combined (very advanced) with a pelvic tilt.
Hindlimb Extension – future goal for Big Guy. Extends hindleg with a stretch of one hindleg backwards.
Just a closing note on the exercises presented in this blog series, please if this interests you check out Dr. Claytons’ books and dvd available for purchase online. This can give you the full, comprehensive material and instructions you will need to do this safely and competently.
The exercises described in this post go over some pretty advanced and athletic muscle contractions. I feel a horse has to be pretty experienced and fit to perform them and even with my senior horse, with many years of training behind him, some of them are not suitable. For instance the hindlimb destabilization at this point would probably cause him to fall over!
Remember to take into context your horses fitness level, medical history, and see a vet or chiropractor before proceeding.