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Back And Neck Pain

EXERCISES FOR BACK/NECK

Rehabilitation of back injury/pain is based on the following steps:

  1. Decreasing/eliminating pain
  2. Improving proprioception (awareness of body and limb placement) 
  3. Improving flexibility 
  4. Increasing endurance 
  5. Increasing strength 

Progressing from passive exercises, to active exercises, to ground work, to ridden exercises 

Pre and post exercise stretching and long warm-ups:

  • Make sure your horse is standing square for these exercises, start slow with them and work up to 10 repetitions daily making sure your horse is holding the position for 10 seconds. This will take time to accomplish and can take up to weeks, and even months. Using treats to encourage your horse in the correct direction is also helpful. 
  • Protraction of the hindlimb: hold the hind leg a few inches above the ground and bring it forward underneath the horse, this rounds the back and croup
  • Leg yields from the ground 
  • Encouraging dorsal extension 
    • lowering the head to the chest
    • lowering the head to the carpus (knees)
    • lowering the head to the fetlocks/ground 
  • Encouraging lateral extension 
    • entice the horses head and neck towards the girth region
    • entice the horses head and neck towards the flank/hip region 
  • Belly lifts: stimulate the ventral midline in the region of the girth/abdomen so the belly tenses and the back rounds 
  • Lower back rounding: run your hands on either side of the tail head up towards the back, this should round the back 


Ridden exercises:

  • Serpentines 
  • Circles in both directions, going in big circles then spiraling in to smaller circles then back out again. This stretches the back muscles and SI region on the outside of the circle, and lowers the pelvis on the inside of the circle 
  • Track walking on a loose rein, over ground poles/cavalettis or up/downhill 

 

Additional treatments for back/neck injury/pain:

  • Heat and massage: increases flexibility 
  • Continued motion: turnout, stall rest increases stiffness 
  • Saddle fit: studies showed that improved saddle fit increased muscle mass in the back

This article has some great pictures of the exercises discussed above: 

https://horse-canada.com/canadian-horse-annual/core-strengthening-rounding-exercises-for-your-horse/

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