Applying Biomechanics To The Horse Rider 2

Part 2   

If you have not read Part 1 start here

The training of the horse to go long and low requires "eccentric muscle work". This is opposite to "concentric work".An example of concentric work is, lifting a bucket of water off the ground, or getting out of a chair or walking up a hill. All these movements are into resistance. Examples of eccentric work are putting a bucket down, walking down a hill slowly, sitting down in a chair without flopping. The jumping posture requires eccentric work, and can be trained on the flat.

Any movement that requires your muscles to control the movement into the resistance. If you are in a tug of war, pulling the rope in is concentric work letting it out is eccentric work.  Stretching long and low is eccentric work. The building of a top line requires the horse to stretch his head and neck towards to ground, (eccentric work).To do this he must be allowed to and taught to do it. This is the action that builds the tone strength and bulk along the back and neck-line.

The rider must be balanced with a stable lower leg to allow the horse to perform this movement.  If the rider is not balanced then he will use the reins and inhibit the horse from stretching lower. The rider must be able to have a light seat as well, so the horse can use his back without the rider driving into it. We want symmetry in our training so yet again the rider must ride with equal weight distribution in both directions or the horse will become, or stay "one-sided". This is often demonstrated as a bridle lameness. When investigating lameness in a horse a vet does not necessarily know about the influence a rider has on the lameness. It may be worth getting an opinion from a respected trainer or coach, especially if the vet finds no clinical reasoning for the lameness.

The importance of understanding the biomechanics of both the horse and rider can save many dollars and many hours of frustration. Arena work, as well as hill work, is great for eccentric muscle training. For the rider, the Applied Posture Riding exercises are a must. It takes time and patience to build up muscles.

Skeletal Structure and Muscle Structure.

Conformation is the size and shape of the bones and this can’t change much,(skeletal structure). Posture is how the bones are held together and how they are supported and how they are moved by the muscles, ligaments, and tendons (muscular structure). Soft tissues can be changed. So the horse's muscle shape and strength and control is changeable as is the riders. Bad conformation can't be changed totally, but it can be controlled and managed. Poor confirmation in the legs can be managed with correct shoeing.

A bad posture in a horse and a rider can be changed. For example, a horse with a U neck (upside down necks which are more heavily muscled underneath) can be trained to reverse this posture.before and after APR A rider with round shoulders can be trained to be tall and upright.  Core Exercises For Good Posture Why do we develop these Postures? It is important to know your horses past. Has he raced, has been badly handled, has been badly trained, and what is his breed? The thoroughbred has a different brain to the stock horse. It can be due to emotions the horses are carrying, for example, negative emotions like fear, or anxiety, anger, depression etc. In a person who is stressed, fearful and anxious you might see a contracted chest, tight muscles and a tight jaw, round shoulders and a stooped posture. Similarly, you can see these same patterns in horses and of course these tension patterns extend on all throughout the body. Poor posture could be the result of an accident or injury or due to pain or discomfort for example sore feet, or it could be from badly fitting saddles and poor riding.

How do we change these Postures?

As I have said it is important to have knowledge. I believe the rider is the first point of change. A rider can identify their own strengths and DSC 0087websizeweaknesses by following my Applied Posture Riding program. Only when a rider is able to balance through their core and lower leg will they be able to ride in balance with their horse. A balanced rider will be able to sit light and get off their horses back and allow it to develop. A balanced rider will be able to keep their weight centred and symmetrical as the horse grows bulk and length. A balanced rider will not pull on the reins. A balanced rider will feel the movement under them. When horses are ridden in better biomechanical balance their postures can start to change. Although in some cases horses need extra help with bodywork to make these changes. Massage, special stretches from the ground, showing the horse what you want is needed sometimes. A good saddle fit is very important. Knowledge in all areas is a must to have the best outcome.

Good luck and enjoy your riding Annette Willson Applying Biomechanics Of The Horse And the Rider Part 2