Is topline muscle necessary? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 14 Old 05-19-2014, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
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Is topline muscle necessary?

I know many people say that topline helps a horse when it is ridden because a horse's back wasn't made to carry the weight of a rider. But I have a buckskin that I am mainly just going to play around on and trail ride, occasionally do a rodeo for fun with my friends, compete in some SCA events, etc. I do not intend on showing him, as I also have 2 show horses already. Also, I am unfortunately having to undergo back surgery in July, and there wont really be anyone to train him and keep him in top muscular condition. I am debating whether or not to try and build up his topline before my surgery? I just don't want to hurt him, but my idea of riding as much as I could before July didnt really consist of hours of trot and collection work. I started working on it a couple days ago, he is very smart and he is understanding it quickly, but he HATES it. He lowers his head when I ask for carriage though, pops his head up occasional, but he puts it back down when I tell him to. He has a higher head carriage then most quarter horses, high withers too. He is extremely muscular in his shoulders and neck and butt. His topline, is OK... everyone says it could be built up a little more. Do you guys think he needs more topline? He is overall very healthy, nice healthy coat/fur, sound feet, no grass belly. To sum it up, my question is: Will it hurt him if I ride him, probably 4-5 days a week, if I never fully develop his topline? Does he even need more topline?
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-19-2014, 04:30 PM
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Your picture is kind of hard to see. I'd say he looks OK, but take that with a grain of salt. It doesn't matter if you are going to show him or not. The point is that a horse needs back muscles if he is going to carry weight. You are going to trail ride - therefore, he will be carrying weight, therefore he needs muscles. The muscles will come with properly weight distribution and work. If he loses muscle for a little while, no biggie - it just means that when you are ready to ride again, you can't go all out right off the bat. But, you won't be ready for that either.

Back muscles are not for show. They are for health and well-being.
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-19-2014, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernMama View Post
Your picture is kind of hard to see. I'd say he looks OK, but take that with a grain of salt. It doesn't matter if you are going to show him or not. The point is that a horse needs back muscles if he is going to carry weight. You are going to trail ride - therefore, he will be carrying weight, therefore he needs muscles. The muscles will come with properly weight distribution and work. If he loses muscle for a little while, no biggie - it just means that when you are ready to ride again, you can't go all out right off the bat. But, you won't be ready for that either.

Back muscles are not for show. They are for health and well-being.
Slightly off topic, but not really... Do you know of any good example pics of good topline vs. not? I agree topline is impt, and how you ride them affects, it, correct? So I have always wondered what to look for. :) Thanks!
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-20-2014, 08:06 PM
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I can't post properly right now
I'll try to remember to come back here later. Maybe you'll be lucky and someone more knowledgeable will pick up on this thread. But if not, I'll see what I can find.
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-20-2014, 08:13 PM
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Maybe you could lunge him in a pessoa system or something like that to not only develop his carriage and topline, but also keep him "in work" while you can't ride him. I'm just a beginner, but I do notice that when my horse can't be ridden, lunging seems to keep him in work mode.
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-21-2014, 09:46 AM
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You say you can get his head down but that is an artificial position unless you are also asking him to get his hindquarters deeper under him. When you achieve this and it may be for only a few strides at first, you will feel it, much nicer than a hollow back.
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-21-2014, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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No when I get him on the bit he is moving from the hindquarters forward and stepping up underneath himself. Luckily my trainer told me he naturally already somewhat carries himself which means a lot less work on my part, though she said getting his head to stretch would help :)
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-21-2014, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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Would everyone say this is decent/good topline?

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post #9 of 14 Old 05-21-2014, 05:14 PM
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He isn't SKINnY if that is what you mean by a good topline, but he is missing a lot of muscle that he would develop with proper work. See that excessive dip behind his shoulders, withers, and right where his SI joint is? All of that will get a thicker, more rounded appearance if he is being conditioned correctly. As he is, I wonder if it will be really hard to fit him for a saddle.

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post #10 of 14 Old 05-21-2014, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your information! And yes, unfortunately my saddle I believe does not fit him as well as it should, look at my other thread about White Spots and I have some pictures there as well.
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back muscles , head carriage , muscle building , soreness , topline

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