Think of any movement activity you have enjoyed in the past – dancing, running, skiing, yoga, working with weights… For each of these activities, posture is important. We know that if we do not have good posture and movement for the activities we do, we risk injury.
The same is true for our horses.
Horses are large animals, they are strong, but their bodies are adapted for long hours browsing and grazing, moving slowly with heads down and the occasional sprint from danger.
We ask them to carry us, jumping obstacles, performing complicated movements in the dressage arena, chasing cows, and many other physically demanding tasks.
Even going along a trail with us sitting on their backs is a movement that can, long term, be potentially harmful, if our horses do not know how to effectively carry our weight.
In this video, I will explain what “weight bearing posture” is for our horses so you can recognize if your horse is moving in a healthy way.
Click play below to learn more!
Callie you are the best–thanks so much for all the time you give us
Great video with wonderful information! I have a 27 year old horse that is beginning to get a sway back. Can you talk about exercises that would help this specific issue please? I am doing ground work with her as she was very happily a pasture ornament most of her life due to my crazy work schedule. Any help would be appreciated.
In hand work can strengthen her abdominal muscles, improve her body awareness and coordination, and really get her reaching and stretching to help the ligaments in her back.
Check out our Balance In Hand course with Patrick King: https://www.balanceinhand.com/
Thank you so very very much for this video. Your timing was perfect for me. I want my horse to “carry herself well or use her body well” and feel responsible to help her work from her hind and not hollow her back and raise her head when I ride her, but I have never understood these concepts very well.
You did a FABULOUS job in this video of making these ideas make sense for me. I loved how you broke the ideas down and how you talked about what we’re NOT looking for as well.
As a older beginner rider and a new horse owner, I can easily get overwhelmed with ideas and explanations but, this video broke it down well enough that I feel like I know what to look for and what to work on now.
My goal is to become a rider my horse wants to carry. I feel more hopeful than I have in a long time about getting there.
Thank you, thank you and thank you.
London Ontario Canada
55 year old beginner rider
Thank you so much for watching and for your comment!
We’re happy to hear the video clarified the concepts so well for you to help you better support your horse.
Good movement feels better for you and your horse together, as a mutual benefit. It may take both your bodies some time to adjust to new alignment and new movement, but stick with it and it will get easier and more natural.
If you have any questions as you work towards helping your horse move better, feel free to email us at [email protected].
One of your very best explanations of a very important topic. Thank you, Callie, for sharing your knowledge in such a clear way.
Robyn Swafford Merino
Robyn, we’re so glad to hear it was so clear and helpful to you! Thank you for your comment.
This video gave me a better understanding of how important balanced movement and posture is for a horse. My horse tends bulge to the left and look to the right when moving left. I’m working on improving his left bend and would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks again.
It sounds like your horse’s shoulders may be getting in the way of his movement. This can happen when the horse is unbalanced or bracing against the movement. To help him, when you ask for a turn you can try lifting and moving outwards a little the rein of the direction you want to go. This has the added benefit of lifting your own shoulders, allowing his body to mirror yours and it invites him to fill the space opened up by the rein. You can practice this doing figure eights or serpentine, providing a constant change of direction.
Hope this helps!
So well explained – I loved this lesson
and I shall put it into practice
Many thanks, Callie
Love this! My trainer just went over this. It was great to hear your presentation! We are working on exercises such as short serpentines to strengthen and develop better balance!
Thank you for all of your helpful videos!
I have a new horse – a quarter horse – and she’s so long and low, it’s an adjustment. Is there a point that the neck should stop in its stretch? I know it’s a breed characteristic, but going from a Friesian cross to the gorgeous mare is a bit of a challenge.
Hi Jessica, thanks for your comment!
The idea of stretching is different than just reaching out with the neck. We want the horse to be extending through their topline, reaching forward with the neck, not just dropping it lower. These mechanics is then the same whether the horse is moving very long and low – with their neck lower than the withers, for example, or a higher level horse working with a high neck set but still reaching forward with their neck.
So there is no easy answer as to one point the neck should “stop” as you are correct, each horse is different. A horse could be moving with their neck in the same relative position and be reaching, stretching, and engaged, or be completely on the forehand with no impulsion. As the rider, look for the feeling of rhythm, cadence, and power in the stride, and notice – as your horse’s neck goes lower when do you feel the balance shift more to their front end?
Callie, this is your best video yet. Thanks so much for explaining this in simple terms. I think I will watch this several times.
This was very helpful. My question is my horse doesn’t drop his head when I ask him to give it. Instead he tucks his chin into his chest. I’m sure that he was bitted up when he was younger and that is how they tried to get him to collect himself. He always feels hollowed out when we trot. The only way to get him to lift himself is to push up on his belly. Will these exercise help him collect better?
Very helpful. The quarter horse I ride has been a lot of work to help him learn balance. While he still throws a shoulder out to avoid a bend when he can one of our biggest issues is getting a push off with his back legs instead of pulling himself into a lope with his front legs. We are starting to get more moments of a nice stretch of his neck now
I am enjoying the book and these videos. My coach is thinking of having her other riders start your program as well
Do you ever work bitless?
That was so interesting, it was so well explained, good to hear someone speaking with such knowledge and obvious love of horses, thank you, keep up the good work