Horse Massage Blog

Why backs need to be strong

Why backs need to be strong

By Kelly Leonard

The horse’s back these days is used in an un-natural way. We as humans have made a choice to sit on a horses back, putting weight on an area that has not been designed to bear weight, and has not yet adapted to this concept.

The horses back resembles a ‘bridge’. If this bridge is not strong enough for the weight it has been forced to carry, then it is going to ‘break’ (become injured, inflicting pain). As we have made this conscious decision to ride horses, I believe it is our duty to insure that the horse is in capable condition to carry this extra weight, as to not cause harm to the horse. The wellbeing of the horse should be of highest priority, and if it is going to be compromised by placing a saddle and rider on its back then this action should be ceased, until appropriate strength is obtained.

The horses back is made up of the spine which is supported by muscles, ligaments and the abdominal muscles. If the supporting structures become strained, tight, stressed or are compromised in any way, it will impact the entire body, as the horse attempts to avoid the pain. A sore back can cause temperament changes, an uncooperative horse, and reduction in performance, along with many other issues.

The ribcage also provides support, as it is attached to the thoracic vertebrae. Between these ribs are the Intercostal muscles that help aid breathing, crucial to the health of the horse. Another muscle that is important when looking at the back is the Longissimus dorsi muscle. It is the longest and strongest muscle in the horse’s body, and is the muscle that the rider sits on.

Back pain can be caused by an ill fitting saddle, poor riding technique, lack of conditioning, overworking, accidents, lameness, and many more reasons. It causes the animals welfare to be compromised, can be costly, and you are unable to ride the horse for a period of time (this could be long or short term) and can be detrimental if it is you relied source of income.

If the horses back is sore and you saddle him up and ride then the horse may associate this pain with riding, causing more behavioural issues in the future. 

It is therefore important for us to keep our horses backs supple and strong, so that it can support the saddle and rider. Keeping it in this condition will decrease the chance of injury.

posted by Jessica Blackwell | 0 Comments


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