Applied Posture Riding - dressage horse training

  • Age Injury Pain Fear The Damaged Horse Rider


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    The older rider just needs a little bit of help in certain areas.

    Age affects our strength, our flexibility, our physical endurance. Age gives us experience, hindsight, knowledge, and drives our passion. The older person takes less physical stress, less impact to create more damage, poorer healing, and a longer rehab and then, of course, a loss of confidence.  When I was young, I was strong, confident, and skilled.

    I had very few falls, I broke a few bones and they healed. I never suffered fear or a loss of confidence. Now I am Injury is affecting me as a rider. Shoulder tendon tears, lumbar herniated discs, and broken limbs in the past affect me now.

    Age Injury Pain Fear, A New Experience For Me?

    I did not expect old age symptoms to affect until I was old. It has snuck up on me, though. In 2013 my horse got bogged in the dam and struggled his way out. I grabbed for the neck strap but he went one way and I went the other way as I was flung out of the saddle. I landed next to him but I had ripped my shoulder apart.

    This was a simple bad luck fall. My age was the problem, my tendons just tore apart. Maybe 10 years younger they may have just stretched???

     I had surgery repaired my shoulder did all my own exercises and fully recovered, the fall was not a confidence hitter,...... just bad luck. I returned to riding, after 3 months of rehab, strength was good, confidence was good, all was good, then bang! The horse hit a bank, hit the deck, and rammed me into the ground, shoulder first. I suffered a grade 3 rupture of my AC joint in the same shoulder.

    Just bad luck really! Age or bad riding? 6 weeks in a sling more rehab but to no avail more surgery needed.

    Well, while planning surgery dates protecting my shoulders I did ride, gentle safe riding, I didn't lift anything just kept riding while waiting for a surgery date. Bang the other shoulder is ripped apart lunging a horse....2 shoulders needing surgery now. The right one to re-repair the torn cuff and the ruptured AC joint and the left one needing a cuff repair.

    Well, the left has been done and soon the right shoulder is to be done.

    I still have another repair on the right shoulder to look forward to.....Time off work, many $1000 for medical expenses, pain, time to heal, time to think, time to plan. Time to worry about what else may happen, and of course everybody suggesting it is time I gave up horses!!! I now have experience of age, injury, pain, and fear. I also have others telling me to give it all up.

    This is a scenario I get emails about nearly every day. Riders returning to the sport after a long time away.....scared. Riders returning to riding after having children..scared. Riders returning from a major injury..scared! Riders new to the sport, taking it up at a later time in their life..scared. Well as you can read the history is similar, that is, an injury, trauma, older bodies, pain, weakness, and a loss of confidence. Me at the moment.

    Recovering From Injury and Fear

    shoulder injury websizeI am physically accepting time for healing. As a Physio I have knowledge. I will start a range of movement stretches soon, once I have the range I will start gravity-free exercises. From there I will add strength and movement pattern exercises. Core exercises have never been stopped as well as posture movement pattern exercises. I  will then pick up all the Applied Posture Riding Movement Patterns and plan to get back in the saddle within the next 6 weeks.

    I have to address my fear, though.

    The past  18 months have been filled with bad luck, pain, expense, and time healing. Before my first fall in the dam, I was a strong confident, skilled, and very safe rider. I practice safe procedures, I wear a helmet, chaps, a neck strap, my gear is always well fitted and safe.

    I understand the horse I am riding and the stage of training he is at. I warm up correctly and don't take chances on anything. I have been in this industry for a long time.

    Well, my bad luck continued and I had to put my horse down due to a bad luck injury, so now I am in the position do I start again or do I retire and just teach. Well, I still face one more surgery on my right shoulder, I have to buy another horse. I am recovering physically I am suffering financially and psychologically. I don't want to just be a trail rider. I want to ride and train and compete at a low level and teach.

    I revisit 18 months ago and focus on my skills, my strength, and talents as a rider. I respect my age and luck. I plan to buy another horse and start again. I still have passion and time to enjoy. If fear is going to inhibit me I will look internally and gain confidence from knowing I am skilled and ready. I have given this advice, so now I will use it. The Applied Posture Riding Movement Patterns are still my principal routines to follow.  

    I don't want to just be a trail rider (no offense to those who do). I want to ride and train and compete at a low level and teach. I respect my age and luck. I plan to buy another horse and start again. I still have passion and time to enjoy. If fear is going to inhibit me I will look internally and gain confidence from knowing I am skilled and ready. I have given this advice, so now I will use it. 


  • Introducing Weight Strength Training for Horses

    Introducing the APR Topline Weight Strength Training Program

    Strength training for horses has been traditionally done using hills, fast work, endurance work. Empirical knowledge has been the main form of application.

    The Equine Veterinary world is now investigating the benefits of applying Physiotherapy knowledge to the equine athlete for performance and for rehab post-injury.

    Humans have been using weights to increase muscle bulk, muscle strength, muscle endurance for years.  Physiotherapy research has endless studies to demonstrate the evidence for this.  Recent studies have now demonstrated the need for loading of the tendon for tendon health and strength (in humans). It is now known that athletes need to train cardio, muscle and now tendons in separate routines. Fast work to increase heart rate works the cardiovascular system. Repetitive and endurance work builds muscle strength and power. We now know loading the tendon with weight and working in dynamic (moving) and isometric (static) work in interval training repairs, and restores and builds tendon strength.

    Humans are able to do reps and sets on each limb or body part to isolate weight loading. A horse cannot do this so a horse needs to use their natural movement patterns (kinetic movement chain) to build strength. 

    I have spent many months learning these biomechanical Kinetic Chain Patterns horses use for movement. The walk is the most efficient pace to load a horse for postural and muscle group strength training. The head bob and the hind leg movement provide the best body part to load a horse with a weight in order to recruit more muscle fibers for each step taken.

    I have designed leg boots and a neck pad to carry variable weight loads to apply at the walk-in variable intervals of time to strengthen the whole horse.web 8 

    We all know the stronger an athlete is the better their performance outcomes are. 

    Having completed and still conducting home-based clinical trials with great success my program is now ready to be introduced to the equestrian world. The program provides guidelines for the amount of weight and time frames used.

    The program products include a neck weight pad, two hind leg boots, 4 rope stabilizers, and a monkey strap. The package will include 4x 1.1kg bars and 2x 500g bars to insert into the neck pad and 12x 304gram bars (6 in each boot) in the hind boots.

    The neck pad and boots are lined with a grip mat and deeper rubber padding material to prevent slippage and provide comfort. The weight pockets are double lined and the boots have an enclosing velcro strap.



    APR Hind Weight bars web

    APR hind weight boots 2 web








    Neck pad fitted webweight bars for program web




    The neck weight pad allows you to vary the amount of weight applied to the training. I have also designed a weight collar. These are fixed weights and designed for easy application of the fixed weight. These are ideal for isometric training and maintenance work. These are still being produced for the market.


     Contact me directly to purchase the full package from my APR shop  APR Topline Strength Training System.

    This program is designed for performance and recreational horses only. A horse undergoing rehab from an injury will need a veterinary referral.


    Casey Compare photos webanatomy horse web

    This is a mare I started two weeks ago. (March 2020). She is already showing visual signs of muscle building. Casey has the Neck Weight Pad and the Hind Weight Boots applied. She is doing dynamic as well as isometric training. This also involves correct feeding as well as "other work". I am happy to consult, answer any questions if you are interested in this system.

    The weight training aims to deactivate the upside-down muscles and activate the correct working muscles of the horse.

    Once we have better strength the horse may well balance and perform better in their discipline.

    Strength training is valid for all horses for good health as well as performance.

    Humans have been applying this type of work for many years, finally, the equine athlete can benefit as well.