Building up back muscles.
What is the best way to build up my horse's back muscles? He is a rescue who hasn't been ridden in a few years and really needs to get his back in shape. I am open to ground work especially as I am hesitant to fit him with a saddle until I get him in better shape.
I tried to get him to do back lifts by touching his tummy, but it isn't working. The vet showed me how to do it by running my hands along the sides of his tail, but I can't seem to replicate it.
Any help at all would be appreciated!
Here's a pic of said horse and his back:
I rescued one of my horses who had this same issue. Is there any way you could borrow a saddle that would fit him for now. Riding him for short periods at a walk would get him looking better faster than ground work. It would also begin a good working relationship. I also upped the protein in my rescue's diet when I started riding him. I did have to change saddles after he was fitted up. I would ride him frequently for shorter periods. Almost like when you start a colt.
Work on the lunge in side reins set low. Use a saddle or surcingle with side reins attached just above your horse's elbow. Attach the reins to a simple snaffle bit. Work him in loose-ish reins at first, until he gets used them, then slowly tighten them until they are snug at the trot. I like to have the inside rein 1-hole, or just 1-1.5" shorter than the outside rein, to encourage a nice bend.
Working in property fitted and positioned side reins at the trot with just a little canter will help him use his hind end better, which will develop topline muscle and belly muscle. You want the reins to encourage his head to drop down while asking him to move out at ground covering gaits so he has to use that rear. Don't lunge more than 30 minutes at a time, starting with just 10-15 minute sessions to build his fitness. Make sure to work both sides equally. I would lunge no more than 3 times a week.
If you've never used side reins before, get a trainer to help you. If you do not have side reins, split reins work just fine as well.
Hi, and thank you. I have used side reins before! He is really darn good about collecting himself on the lunge line though. I don't know his history, I am unable to connect with his former owner, but I think he's had some pretty extensive training.
I will definitely work on building him up to lunge. :)
I am really having a heck of a time fitting him, my arab saddles are too small (he is a big arabian) for him and my mom's QH saddle is too big. I am going to have a fitter come out and have a look, but as mentioned I hate to buy something that will no longer fit when I build up his back muscles. :/
The vet I see has one of my horse's sisters, and a saddle she thinks might fit him since her girl is big too. Fingers crossed. It's a simco arab tree trail saddle.
Or, maybe a semi QH bar would work.
For now, 3x a week lunging. :)
Collected does not always equal correct. He needs to have a lowered frame, but also be really driving from behind. You want to see those hind legs really reaching under his barrel, in to the tracks left by his front feet, or even further forward.
Thank you. :)
Correct training means the horse will be muscled correctly. If you are riding well the horse can use himself better and will build the right muscles. It takes time too.
Thanks :) He is a recent acquisition, I've only had him since the first of the year and haven't had the chance to work him much (no indoor and the ground is a mess). He came to me without being ridden for 3+ years. :(
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