Back to the gym: How gymnastic stretches can engage your horse’s back

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A video showing horse owners how to engage their horse’s back through gymnastic stretches has been re-released by non-profit equine education organization Equitopia.

“Developing Your Horse’s Back: The Biomechanics of Engagement” is one of many free educational lectures and demonstrations Equitopia provides. In it, Art 2 Ride trainer Karen Loshbaugh and veterinarians Dr Joanna Robson, Dr Sarah Le Juene and Dr Sue Dyson demonstrate what proper engagement of the core is and how to achieve it as well as how it affects the horse’s skeletal system.

The video demonstrates how horse owners can avoid leaving their horses with lasting back pain and skeletal issues such as Kissing Spine by properly engaging the horse’s core muscles during their exercise. The veterinarians explain that carrying a rider is not something a horse was designed to do and therefore the riders must account for that added weight by strengthening the core.

Equitopia traveled to the University of California Davis to observe as veterinarians there conducted a study using radiographs to view differences in the spine when the core is engaged versus a normal stance. They found that an engaged and rounded back increased the spaces between vertebrae, thereby reducing the risk of vertebrae rubbing together as when a horse is traveling with a “hollow back.”

The video also demonstrates and explains for horse owners the at-home exercises they can perform both on the ground and under saddle to help their horse develop a strong core and a round back. It also visibly demonstrates the difference between a horse that is truly engaged versus one that is only giving the appearance of engagement. With the help of this video, horse owners can learn how to ride in a way that is beneficial to both horse and rider for optimum happiness and performance.

It is Equitopia’s belief that horses and humans should live in harmony, and the company strives to provide horse owners with proper health and wellness education.

The organization works closely with professionals across the industry including specialists in veterinary science, behavior, hoof care, training, nutrition and more to create user-friendly and easy to understand content for horse owners.

Part two of “Biomechanics of Engagement” is below.

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