Is it conformation, or is it posture?

Posted by on Mar 7, 2011 in Alternative Methods, Equine Acupressure, Equine Massage | Comments Off on Is it conformation, or is it posture?

Okay, you’re working your horse in the round pen.  You know, a little exercise for you and him.  Maybe he’s on a line, maybe not.  You give him the command to trot and dutifully (don’t forget to say “GOOD BOY” or “GOOD GIRL”) goes into that great trot you’re so fond of.  A couple steps into it, a little stumble, recovery, but now you see a bit of lameness in one shoulder, so you call off the rest of your work.

As you put your horse away, you wonder how many days it’ll be this time.  After all, you’ve been dealing with this for most of the past year.  A little stumble, and then a couple weeks’ worth of slight lameness.

You feed right, you both get plenty of exercise, and still, something always crops up.  Others around your barn start pointing out things like shoulders at slightly different angles, worn heels, cow hocks, and the like.  They say, “You’re stuck with it because it’s all part of his conformation.”

But, is it REALLY?

Do you remember last Spring when the spouse lasso’d you into cleaning the basement out?  Do you remember how you felt the next day?  Or, maybe this past Winter you slipped on the ice and took a crash on a sidewalk.  You still have a little ache, but nothing too great.  But, do you remember what you felt like the next day?

Maybe during your “recovery” (what was it, aspirin and menthol rub?), you started to limp a bit and ever since the ache from the injury left, you’ve had a little “hitch in your get-a-long”.  Why should a horse be any different?

If you’ve been around horses for much time, you know they are injury magnets at times.  Maybe it’s the way they’re trained, maybe conformation, who really knows?

Maybe the latest issue was actually caused by an imbalance due to over-compensation.  Ever REALLY feel the opposite hip after you’ve been limping along for a week or so?  It’s sore, I’ll bet.  The horse is no different.  The original injury and pain may be gone, but something else is “stuck” or “out”, and now that’s a whole new problem.

Certainly some problems are caused by poor conformation, but many others are caused by the aftermath of injury, even slight ones.

What do we want in our horse besides a pleasant partner and good ride?  I’m sure the list is endless.

We would like a strong and flexible poll.  A pull-back and even sit-down while tied can change all that.

We would like smooth, flexible and flowing shoulders.  Overcompensation from some other foreleg injury or even higher up can change that as well.

We would like a strong, flexible spine on which to sit.  The wrong roll or twist could change all that.

We would like a flexible lower spine so the horse may more easily engage the rear for those powerful movements we ask of them.

You get the picture, I’m sure.

Massage, fascial release, and acupressure can help relieve the pain and get your horse back, but it also takes some prevention on your part.  You say, “But, I already do bows and carrot stretches, what MORE could I do?”

Well, perhaps your horse needs to be seen by a chiropractor.  Then again, maybe your horse just needs a good assessment and targeted bodywork therapy to return to maximum performance.

So, look closely at your horse.  We can all usually tell when the horse is in great pain, but what about those little aches which if we had them would make us walk funny or stiffly?  Once identified, therapy is usually easy, and any bodyworker worth his or her salt will show you little things to do in-between visits if more than one is needed.  You should also learn what to do with your horse to keep them in top form for whatever you two do.

Your horse deserves no less.