Core Stability 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.
Core Stability exercises are the next step after your horse is familiar with the Mobilization exercises (see that post)… Core Stability stimulates the abdominal and back muscles using motion that are Horse Led (letting the horse determine the amount and duration of stretch).
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.
Thought: These exercises are the ones we commonly think of when told to strengthen the horses’ back. Working from the ground, it is easier to improve the muscle tone and do it faster the asking the horse to do it from the saddle with the riders’ weight and balance.
Sternal, Withers and Thoracic – Between the front legs, at the front portion of the sternum, begin pressure. This lifts first the withers, and then at mid-back along the spine. The horse elongates his head and neck, and lifts his back.
The Linda Tellington-Jones TTouch called the Belly Lift is similar.
Lumbar and Lumbosacral Lift – Flexion and bending of the pelvis. lifting the lower back and rounding the lumbosacral area. In this dvd, Dr. Stubbs shows the finger/pressure up the tail spine to activate this response more slowly.
The pelvis flexion I’ve seen done uses the groove at the Poverty Line, applying pressure on either side of the tail. This method also puts you in perfect alignment to be kicked if your horse reacts negatively.
Lumbar Lifting and Lateral Bending – angling a line of pressure across opposite side of the rump where you are standing, gains pelvic lift and rotation.
Thought: Lifting and then rotating, increases the pelvis stability and like many core exercises for humans, the strength is further developed when you must hold a bend or uneven balance.
Advanced Combined Rounding Exercises – Combines the belly lift with the Lumbar Lifting/Lateral Bending (see above). If your horse doesn’t lift easily or you have short arms (which I do) you may need a second person to do the belly lift, while you do the lumbar lift and lateral bend.
Mentioned in the dvd is the muscle Biceps Femoris, as a key to pelvis stability – it joins to the sacrum with multiple attachments to the stifle and hock tendons. This is an important area for me to strengthen due to the location of Big Guy’s pelvis fracture (01-09)
Big Guy has little movement in the back in terms of lift.
ZZ has much more back lift due to her youthful strength.