Why is a topline so important? - Page 3

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Why is a topline so important?

This is a discussion on Why is a topline so important? within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Why top line is important
  • Why is an even top line important for horses

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    12-19-2008, 06:27 PM
Lol, I have to take what you write literally. I can't assume what's not there. ;)

All I'm saying is that wild horses have no topline. It's something really created by man, to carry a rider. There IS no lifting of the back in the gallop, THAT is why all TBs on the racetrack except for a slim few (and they usually are too heavy to do well) have NO topline. It's not used in galloping. If it's created by carrying a rider in a nice, round and correct way of moving, an hour or so a day, how's a wild horse going to have topline?

Besides, conformation that it good for us is good for a ridden horse, in work. Bad conformation flaws that would mean lameness later on really means nothing to a wild horse because he's really never, ever in heavy work.
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    12-21-2008, 07:33 AM
The horse is not built to carry a rider. By building a top line on the horse we are strengthening the horses back and making it easier and less strainful on the horses back.
    12-23-2008, 04:22 AM
I really like the idea of a topic with pictures posted of horses with good and poor topline, I was actually considering starting one myself.
I think it would be really helpful in developing our ability to assess our own horses' topline.
    12-23-2008, 08:59 AM
I think Jeddah beat me to this, but a good topline is important as it assists the horse in carrying a rider's weight.

Horses were not designed to be ridden. The majority of their natural weight (particularly grazing & walking) is centred over the forehand, which are the least 'strong' out of the legs.

Add to this, a rider's weight, and more pressure is on the forehand.

A topline slightly changes the distribution of weight to the hind quarters, thus freeing up the forehand to work more 'freely', with less strain. It also strengthens the back to support our weight. And finally, the neck is developed, so that it can balance the additional weight more effectively.

As for natural toplines, horses wild in hilly/mountainous terrain do tend to develop some topline (probably not as pronounced as domesticated horses. This does not necessarily mean that they have good conformation (after all the two are not synonimous), but hill work is a great neck, back, quarter conditioner.
    12-23-2008, 10:37 AM
The big issue with ridden horses and wild horses are that wild horses doesn't carry a heavy person on their backs.

Even a trail horse needs to learn how to raise their backs against the rider, to make their backs strong. If they just do it by putting their heads and necks down, they won't get a good topline, but they'll use their back enough to avoid injury.
But then to move freely and avoid damage on the frontlegs, they should put weight on their hindlegs. Horses naturally carry more weight o the forehand, but with the extra rider on that, it can easily be too much for the frontlegs, especially the joints. The hindlegs however, are formed differently and can become stronger by training the muscle, o that they can handle the extra weight. The frontlegs can't really become stronger in that sense.

So, for a horse to carry a rider without hurting itself, it needs to arch the back and put as much weight as they can (without straining the muscles more than they're ready for) on the hindquarters. They do this naturally when they jump or go through rough terrain - if they're not stressed up and just wants to run.
That builds some topline but not necessarily extremely much.

On a plain arena however, you need to teach them to do this without any appearant reason (in their minds there are no reason to carry since there is just plain smooth ground).

Try yourself; stand on all four, arch your back and let someone sit on you. You can do that for a while without getting hurt. Then do the same thing but sway your back..it won't feel as nice after a while.

A horse that just lowers the neck, even without fancy arching, raises their backs and that can very well be enough for most trail horses. :)
    12-23-2008, 11:18 AM
Originally Posted by RedHawk    
I really like the idea of a topic with pictures posted of horses with good and poor topline, I was actually considering starting one myself.
I think it would be really helpful in developing our ability to assess our own horses' topline.
i would like that too !
    12-23-2008, 12:33 PM
Wikipedia has some good information

Back (horse) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Also good information on the back's structure here

::: Sustainable Dressage - Rollkur - How And Why Not? - Work & Stretch :::

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