Building shoulder muscles

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Building shoulder muscles

This is a discussion on Building shoulder muscles within the Horse Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category

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    11-25-2009, 02:27 AM
Building shoulder muscles

Similar to the "building neck muscle" thread, I would like some suggestions on how to build up my geldings shoulder muscles and his topline. He's an 11 year old TB off the track, and from my understanding they normally have lots of front-end propulsion, so their shoulders/chest muscles are generally bigger than their back end. Well as of right now, he still has excellent condition in his hind, but I can easily stick my fingers behind his scalpula...where his neck and chest come together is basically just skin. If I can get his shoulders a little more conditioned I also want to work on filling out his withers and topline, which although they aren't horrible could use some work.

So, suggestions? I ride Western, in a hackamore, and he generally doesn't lunge very well.
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    11-25-2009, 06:35 PM
Exactly the same deal as building neck muscles mate. Correct work, hill work, transitions, serpentines etc etc. Everyone keeps asking about how to build muscles but it really is very simple and obvious. Get the horse using it's back and the rest will follow. Get a good coach - if the coach you have now has no idea how to geat horse over its back they shouldnt be coaching IMO.
    11-25-2009, 11:48 PM
Woops, forgot to add--I'm in Florida, so we're as flat as a pre-teen girl (I just made myself laugh)

I was under the impression that English (like the 'neck muscles' thread) and Western required different standards for horses (i.e. Western likes their horses headset to be dropped, English does not) and so there were maybe a different set of exercises. Since I can't just toss money out to get a trainer, could you explain how to maybe get him to round his back out? I know in English, it would be a matter of teaching him to be 'on the bit'....but seeing as he's not ridden in a bit, and I'm not an English rider, we have a problem.

He is an OTTB, and they are notorious for not using their backs....since their necks are erect and their heads are usually sky high, their back actually bows down towards their belly. When we're not walking, that's the position he assumes.
    11-26-2009, 05:14 AM
Hmmmm yeah I can't really help you a heap because I'm a dressage person myself, and where I am there's hills everywhere.
I've had a few ottb's and yes initially they are difficult to convince to start working their backs, but if they have reasonable conformation and their back isn't miles long, then you've got a good chance of getting them working properly ;)

Because you're a western rider and I have absolutely no idea if western horses are worked in a similar way to english, im not sure if I can suggest any movements or not because the aids are probably different.
All I can really suggest is to focuss on getting him to push off with his hind legs, buy doing millions of transitions, changes or rein, and transitions within the gaits. Don't let him hang onto the bit - so basically if he goes to grab it (the joys of ottb's) don't givve him anything to hang onto, so that he HAS to to hold himself up.
When you put more leg on, don't let him change speed and run onto the forehand. Keep him in check with your back/stomach muscles and check him with your reins every few strides.
    11-26-2009, 10:25 AM
Meh...he's a little long backed, but in the saddle is the only time you can really feel it. (I have ten foot trail reins that I use and there's maybe four or five inches of slack)

Since I don't ride him in a bit, he's learning that for himself, lol. I did notice he was heavy headed when I used a bit (on top of being a nightmare when I wanted to put it in his mouth), so I stopped. That cleared up that problem pretty quick. He still has some balance issues, and his "whoa" between gaits isn't perfect--he slows down, but you can feel that he'd rather be trotting again.

So I guess I'm already doing everything I should be then? When we first start speeding up he does usually need to be reminded of what he's doing, but after a few transitions I can keep him on a pretty loose rein.
    11-26-2009, 12:27 PM
Well my horse came from the bad lands out west and he is the most muscled up horse at game shows, and cattle show, I was told that he as been worked since he was 2(his 13 now) with cattle which build up muscle, but that's all I can think of
    11-26-2009, 01:44 PM
If I could find cattle, that would actually be pretty amazing.

Of course, my horse has never seen a cow in its whole existence and so working cattle is a lost cause.
    11-26-2009, 06:23 PM
Yea um I also no that instead of doing rail work in an arena doing small circles at a trot helps.
    11-26-2009, 08:39 PM
I'll definitely have to work on that. Getting him to trot on a sharp curve should be interesting.

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