Topline muscles

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Topline muscles

This is a discussion on Topline muscles within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
  • Dressage what are topline muscles?
  • building hindquarters horse forum

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  • 1 Post By smilin1590

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    04-19-2012, 08:58 AM
Topline muscles

This is probably going to make me sound stupid but I don't care and that's why I'm asking here because most of you know quite a bit :) So I've just started dressage lessons with my OTTB. He's been retired since october and started his new career training in late december and seems to be perfectly content with it. I bought him in February. Anyway, even though he was on the track, will it take him time to build topline muscles, and while we're working to build those will he become slightly more fatigued than usual? I have not really encouraged much a frame since I got him and he goes great for a good hour but now since we've been working on more dressage type things he seems to poop out a little bit before the hour. Is this normal?
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    04-19-2012, 03:17 PM
Yes completely normal. It takes a lot of work to "carry" themselves properly. You need to give him time. It will come.
    04-19-2012, 09:40 PM
It takes a long time to develop a good topline through correct work. Just watch that you don't exhaust him, this can do the opposite and fatigue his muscles. The stronger your can get his hindquarters, the better his topline will be. I would be doing a lot of gymnastic work, over cavaletti and getting him nice and soft off the aids. Once the horse is relaxed in his work, he will start to work his muscles rather than hold them, and then you start to get topline development.
    04-19-2012, 10:15 PM
I am going through the same thing with my new horse. I have been doing a lot of lunging her in side reins to keep her head down and on the verticle which helps to engage their hind end nd strengthen as well. I do mostly trot canter trot transitions, but only for 10-20 minutes ob each side depending on if I plan to ride after or not.
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    04-19-2012, 11:27 PM
Originally Posted by SarahAnn    
i am going through the same thing with my new horse. I have been doing a lot of lunging her in side reins to keep her head down and on the verticle which helps to engage their hind end nd strengthen as well. I do mostly trot canter trot transitions, but only for 10-20 minutes ob each side depending on if I plan to ride after or not.
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I lunge in side reins, but not to keep the horse's head down, dragging the head down does nothing what so ever to engage the hind quarters. I prefer to lunge with a fixed outside side rein, and a running inside rein (lunge line through inside bit ring and clipped to low point on roller/girth). The outside rein is there not to pull the head down, but it acts as the rider's reins do under saddle, and contains the energy you create in the hind quarters, encouraging the horse to round the back and work into a contact. The running inside rein is just to give a little more control of the flexion, or if you have a highly strung horse a running inside rein can bring the head around to the girth if the horse panics.
When lunging, be mindful not to go 10-20minutes of the same thing on the same circle, then you start getting your soundness issues as a result. Instead, try to work up and down the whole arena, using straight lines, increasing and decreasing the size of the circle, and changing rein frequently.
    04-19-2012, 11:38 PM
I do all of those things too, and I didnt really mean "hold" the head down ad much as encorage her to stay on the bit rather then flailing her head all around, which my horse will do without side reins. I actually recently had my riding instructor give me a lesson on lunging just so I knew I was doing it rigjt.... there is a lot to actually lunging properly rather then letting your horse run around in a circle for a while.
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    04-20-2012, 04:38 PM
Trot, trot, trot! Trotting is the BEST thing you can do to build topline.Lots and lots of trotting.

While he is building, do lots of stretching, but not with his nose out - with it in. Then do short period of collection in training frame. Until they build that muscle, they can really only do a few minutes of this at a time, so once he get the idea, you can then start having him stretch and then shorten and then stretch. Until he builds up that topline, he won't really be able to canter collected, so when you canter just work on keeping it balanced, up and consistent. And honestly, the best thing you can do to get a good canter is - you guessed it - lots of trotting! As he gets more and more comfortable trotting collected for longer periods (you'll also physically see the muscles developing), you then will be able to focus on starting to collect his canter a little at a time.

Make sure while you're building that you re-access his saddle fit every couple of weeks. What fits him now probably won't fit his new muscly self and you can set back the development a lot by working him hard in a saddle that doesn't fit.

Good luck!
    04-20-2012, 04:54 PM
Yeah the biggest reason I canter is because my girl is a Standarbred... so we canter for the sake of cantering and learning the voice command for canter. She'd trot all day long if I let her.
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    04-20-2012, 06:12 PM
Thanks everyone! Exactly why I come here and ask questions because you all have different ideas and they're all great and helpful! Thanks!
SarahAnn likes this.

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