How would I build my horse's topline...?
 
 

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How would I build my horse's topline...?

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  • How to build a good topline on my horse
  • How to build horse's topline

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    08-02-2012, 02:22 PM
  #1
Foal
How would I build my horse's topline...?

Okay, so my horse, Vinny has no topline, and it's making it really difficult to get him back into work, because every time we throw a saddle on him, he gets really sore right behind his withers and in another spot about a foot and a half behind it.
I know that transitions, ground/raised pole work, carrot stretches and tummy tucks work, as well as hills, and I've heard sand works as well, but I don't have hills or sand available at my facility.
I also can't use side reins because he has a very sensitive mouth due to prior abuse and needs an elastic contact with his face, but he stretches down naturally, and tries to use himself as a whole.
My question is: Is there any other way I can try to build his topline without any terrain changes...? We're currently working him over ground poles and doing lots of transitions, and then carrot stretches when we're done. And I do tummy tucks when I'm grooming. I just can't think of anything else that could work.
     
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    08-02-2012, 02:58 PM
  #2
Weanling
I'd be concerned about the fit of his saddle. Even with no topline, the saddle should not make him sore (although you'd have to get it re-fitted as his topline develops) and a bad fit could actually inhibit the growth of a good topline.
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    08-02-2012, 03:17 PM
  #3
Super Moderator
I agree, the soreness is most likely from a poor fitting saddle. When a saddle hurts, the horse will NOT raise his back and use it...because it hurts to do that. You will actually prevent your horse from doing what he needs to do to build strength.
     
    08-02-2012, 03:19 PM
  #4
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by teamfire    
I'd be concerned about the fit of his saddle. Even with no topline, the saddle should not make him sore (although you'd have to get it re-fitted as his topline develops) and a bad fit could actually inhibit the growth of a good topline.
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The thing is, my saddle that I got last summer fits him in every way except right where the highest part of his withers is. I can just barely fit one finger in between my saddle and his withers without the cinch. And I don't know of any western tack shops with good saddle selection other than double G ranch in Maine, and I don't have the time to make the trip from southern NH... That's the only problem with that...
And if I were to start him up english, I'd have to find someone else to ride him for me because I haven't ridden english in three years, and my english equitation is crap, and my leg moves like crazy in an english saddle, and his sides are too sensitive... so I'm really in a tight spot
     
    08-02-2012, 03:21 PM
  #5
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Allison Finch    
I agree, the soreness is most likely from a poor fitting saddle. When a saddle hurts, the horse will NOT raise his back and use it...because it hurts to do that. You will actually prevent your horse from doing what he needs to do to build strength.
I know that, I just don't have a saddle available for me to use... that's the only reason why I'm trying to find an alternative.
     
    08-02-2012, 09:13 PM
  #6
Foal
I'm basically looking for ways to build his top line to see if I actually need to get a new saddle or not. Because if it fits correctly when his top line is back, then I'd prefer not having to truck all the way up to Maine and back over and over again to find a saddle that fits right XD
     
    08-02-2012, 10:28 PM
  #7
Yearling
OK. My horse has a saddle that fits GREAT (and has been customized to him by a very highly regarded professional saddle fitter) so it's not always just saddle fit. That's the place to start, all right. But once you know the saddle fits fine, the question is "what to do".

My boy is a retired GP show jumper, and he was sent to a retirement home that did NOT care for him and then sent him to auction. He's got well over a decade of stuff with the USEF on the pro jumping circuit, so I'm going to assume that his currently crummy topline is a relatively recent development, due to neglect...because as we know, it's NOT from saddle fit (although that was certainly...challenging).

I'm going to share what my horse's chiro has been advising me on the subject of building that topline:

1. Hill work. Sounds like someone has already suggested that to you since you mention you don't have access to hills. But I want to say this doesn't have to be mountainous hills. An uphill driveway can do the trick, at least to start.

2. Trot poles. What I've had recommended to me is a stream of 6 or 7 cavaletti, spaced out appropriately, and sending the horse (regularly, frequently, and consistently) through them at a trot. I don't totally know how "appropriate" is measured. I have a 16.2 Dutch Warmblood, and I have size 10.5 (euro size 41) feet, and I space the cavaletti 5 foot-lengths apart for my horse. Scale is everything, on this one.

3. This is one that my chiro came up with because I can't really take my guy on the hills (he is FREAKY about bugs, even with a Quiet Ride mask on and TONS of fly spray, and all of our hills are in thick woods), and because of his pro jumping history, he jumps those cavaletti instead of trotting them. We've been working on this, and I think I've found the answer, but in the meantime... the chiro has suggested bringing him to a halt in the ring, then backing him for as many as 8 or 10 paces, then squeezing him into a trot for several paces, then transitioning down to the walk. Rinse, lather, repeat, for like 10 minutes.

YMMV, but maybe something here will help. I know what a trial this is...
     
    08-02-2012, 10:31 PM
  #8
Yearling
Oh, and I just realized you are in NE too. Here is the website for my saddle fitter. He travels about. I caught him when he was up in Western MA for the King Oak Trials. Maybe he will be in your neck of the woods too. (I know it looks like he just does Duetts, but I have an Anky, and my buddy has a western saddle, and he did those just fine...) It was about $100 for his assessment and measurement and the reflocking for my Anky.

The English Saddler
     
    08-03-2012, 02:13 PM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThursdayNext    
OK. My horse has a saddle that fits GREAT (and has been customized to him by a very highly regarded professional saddle fitter) so it's not always just saddle fit. That's the place to start, all right. But once you know the saddle fits fine, the question is "what to do".

My boy is a retired GP show jumper, and he was sent to a retirement home that did NOT care for him and then sent him to auction. He's got well over a decade of stuff with the USEF on the pro jumping circuit, so I'm going to assume that his currently crummy topline is a relatively recent development, due to neglect...because as we know, it's NOT from saddle fit (although that was certainly...challenging).

I'm going to share what my horse's chiro has been advising me on the subject of building that topline:

1. Hill work. Sounds like someone has already suggested that to you since you mention you don't have access to hills. But I want to say this doesn't have to be mountainous hills. An uphill driveway can do the trick, at least to start.

2. Trot poles. What I've had recommended to me is a stream of 6 or 7 cavaletti, spaced out appropriately, and sending the horse (regularly, frequently, and consistently) through them at a trot. I don't totally know how "appropriate" is measured. I have a 16.2 Dutch Warmblood, and I have size 10.5 (euro size 41) feet, and I space the cavaletti 5 foot-lengths apart for my horse. Scale is everything, on this one.

3. This is one that my chiro came up with because I can't really take my guy on the hills (he is FREAKY about bugs, even with a Quiet Ride mask on and TONS of fly spray, and all of our hills are in thick woods), and because of his pro jumping history, he jumps those cavaletti instead of trotting them. We've been working on this, and I think I've found the answer, but in the meantime... the chiro has suggested bringing him to a halt in the ring, then backing him for as many as 8 or 10 paces, then squeezing him into a trot for several paces, then transitioning down to the walk. Rinse, lather, repeat, for like 10 minutes.

YMMV, but maybe something here will help. I know what a trial this is...

Oh my gosh, thanks so much! The backing up-transitions thing sounds fantastic! But yeah, no, we have NO hills. We have two hilly paddocks with a lot of rocks, and it just wouldn't end well, so I'm stuck with flat terrain. My problem with his saddle is his sharkfin withers... lol it's nothing else, cause it my saddle fits everywhere but there.
     
    08-03-2012, 03:30 PM
  #10
Green Broke
So, if you think it fits everywhere but the withers, have you tried a built up pad? You should not be riding in that saddle if it's sitting on his withers.
     

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