Is your horse in balance? Learn how posture can help you find the answer!

Let’s talk posture! Last month

we looked at ways to assess our horses for musculoskeletal asym- metries by observing their muscu- lature. Now let’s delve into how your horse’s posture can show you signs of structural imbalances. Posture should not be con-

fused with conformation. When we talk about posture we are talking about the manner in which your horse holds its weight. Conforma- tion refers to the structure of the skeletal system a horse was born with. So a horse may be born with certain conformational traits that may cause it to move and hold it- self in a posture that may not be ‘ideal’, but is the most efficient way for it to remain in balance. For example, a horse that is

conformationally higher in the hind end than the withers will naturally stand with more weight on its fore- hand. The horse may find it easier to stand with its forelimbs more underneath its body in order to hold the extra weight that is sitting in its sternum and thoracic sling muscles. In this case, the higher hind end is conformation, and standing with the forelimbs camped under is its posture. Unfortunately, it is not always

that easy to immediately decipher between what is conformational and what is postural. What we can do is observe how our horses hold themselves as they go about their day.

Let’s start with something

simple: can your horse stand square? You may actually find this exercise to be more challenging than it seems. Some ways to ob- serve this is to watch how your horse stands in the crossties while you’re grooming and tacking up. Does your horse stand with even weight on all four limbs? Does he or she need to place a certain limb ahead, behind or underneath the body in order to hold weight on it? Does it rest one hind more than the other? When it rests its hind does it stand with the opposite forelimb stretched out ahead of its body? Does your horse change its posture when you’re tacking up? How does it stand with its tack on as com- pared to without it? Does your horse assume any particular pos- ture after exercise? It’s also important to observe

your horse’s posture when he or she is on its own in its stall or pad- dock. How does your horse rest while standing in his or her stall or paddock? Do you see the same postures as you did in the crossties or are some things different? What is your horse’s preferred head and neck position? Do they appear to be holding more weight on left or ride side of their body? If you tried to find your horse’s center of grav- ity, where would it be? It’s unrealistic to expect a

horse to stand square all day long. However, being aware of your horse’s postural patterns can help to identify musculoskeletal imbal- ances. Structural balance is not just important for performance, but also the long-term soundness and com- fort of the horse.

sternum. He is also ‘camped under’ with both his forelimbs and hind limbs, and has both of his left limbs further under his body. The horse also presents with fascial banding throughout his neck, shoulder, midsection and hind end.

This horse is standing in a ‘hammock’ posture; inverted through his topline with his weight in his Broker

Harnessing Country Living For You 1-800-268-2455 • (519) 939-SELL (7355)

E: Equi-Bow practitioners are trained to assess

and observe how the horse presents itself in its posture and how that posture may change throughout a session and over time. Practitioners work closely with owners, trainers, and equine caregivers to keep a detailed record of postural changes over time. This information helps practi- tioners work with horses through their compensa- tion patterns with the goal of improving the body’s overall balance and efficiency.

If you would like to learn more about how to

observe your horse’s posture or have its posture assessed, contact a Certified Equi-Bow Practi- tioner. You can find a list of practitioners in your area on the Equi-Bow Canada website at

Angela Saieva, CEBP/CETP/CEMT

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