Building the top line

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Building the top line

This is a discussion on Building the top line within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
  • Building topline on a young horse

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    04-16-2014, 04:19 PM
Building the top line

What are your go to exercises for building a young horse's topline?
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    04-16-2014, 04:47 PM
Subbing. I would like to know this also.
    04-16-2014, 05:43 PM
Pure and simple. Good, correct work. The topline comes with good feeding and good work.
Once they learn to go forward into a contact with a relaxed back, the topline develops quite quickly.
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    04-16-2014, 06:23 PM
The horse's top line develops/bulks the muscle through the horse lifting and carrying out to the bridle. Actively forward (in all three gaits)/in front of the vertical/neck lifted up through figures (circles/etc) and exercises. Jumping also allows the horse to use its entire body. In a very short amount of time the area where the saddle sits 'bulks' (esp behind the shoulders), the neck where it ties into the shoulders is wider, there is more crest height, the croup becomes noticeably rounder, the abductors (between the hind legs) are fuller (called 'full pants'), etc. And the development continues throughout training.
    04-16-2014, 06:50 PM
That explains why the saddle suddenly doesn't fit anymore! The dip behind her withers is starting to fill in.
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    04-16-2014, 07:17 PM
Ive been told long and low. Head/neck up builds up the muscle on the underside of the neck and hollows out the back.
    04-16-2014, 08:27 PM
Of course, correct riding, that's a no brainer, however long trotting up steep hills is killer. Last weekend, I took my horse to a thermal imaging/massage clinic along with 10 other owners/horses. My horse had the best topline, most muscle compared to a few warmbloods & ranch horses. Everyone was asking me what I did with my horse being so early in the riding season (we still have snow on the ground here), my answer was ride all winter and walk down the 2 mile mountain road and long trot up it. Also my horse was the only horse there without major sore/hot spots, I attribute that to being fit and ridden regularly.
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    04-16-2014, 10:48 PM
Churumbeque - where on earth did you hear that?
Obviously a horse with its head stuck in the air through resistance will build under muscle. But expecting a young horse to work in true long and low is counter productive - they don't have the strength to maintain it so the back comes stuck, hind legs stop coming through and shoulders/base if neck become tight.

Working a young horse forward and into the bridle with the head/neck at a 'neutral' position is much preferable.
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    04-16-2014, 11:03 PM
Walking a loose rein is for relaxation, the test of 'chewing the reins from the hand' ask long and low is a test of bit acceptance. When the neck is lifted and the horse in front of the vertical and out to the hand it is somewhat like a 'fish on a fishing rod' or a bended whip.

If the horse is hollow/above the bit/in pain from the bit acting the bars, and inactive behind/leaning onto the is that hollows the back/drops the chest/pushes the under neck out. Interestingly enough when the horse is ridden too compressed/btv/closed that also causes the under neck to do all the work, so you will see a 'tubular' neck (little muscle near the shoulder, rather a pipeline looking neck, and when the saddle is removed there is little muscle where the saddle sits).
    04-17-2014, 02:52 PM
Originally Posted by churumbeque    
Ive been told long and low.
I agree with this, because isn't this the way to, first, relax and lengthen the back? I thought that, so long as the work was fairly energetic, it was a good way to work.

I thought that it was from this that one would begin to "bring the horse up" into working gaits, then into collection; always with the ability to go back to the relaxing long and low.

Kayty, you mention "true long and low." So now I'm confused! The false long-and-low would be...?

(Personally, I think all young horses should first be ridden cross country, in a natural manner, in a happy group. But I admit that this is not so often a possibility any more, in this day and age! So the alternatives are...)

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