Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Posture and Locomotion.

Howdy Friends!

Posture and Locomotion. Watching your horse casually stroll along is a great time to check her posture, and overall movement. Do you see the hind end propelling your horse, the big hind muscles lifting and pushing? Toes, the last to lift, pushing down into earth. Can you witness the flow of energy from her gluteal and hamstring muscles and pelvis forward and along the topline? Can you see her abdomen engage, lift and support with each stride? Are those hind legs moving powerfully, and yet effortlessly forward to set down under her barrel in a fluid heel to toe placement? Hind foot placement should be just about where the front foot left, sometimes exactly on, sometimes half a sole behind. Is her head horizontal to her topline, her neck soft and sleek? Do her front legs float like butterflies with graceful, soft lift and effortless heel toe foot placement? Watch closely and you’ll see those feet, front and rear settle then roll from heel to toe. (This can’t happen effectively if the horse is shod). This is a description of a horse moving in correct, healthy posture and body carriage.
My Kessy strolling along
What we don’t want to see is a horse dragging with her front legs, as if that’s where the power originates. Many horses, because of what we do, fall into a “forehand” posture—and it’s bad. The hind end will become disengaged, and begin to fall farther back and atrophy, becoming weaker and weaker. (I’ve worked with horses who had no idea where their hind end was, from all the disengagement and break down). The abdomen cannot engage, the topline will drop. In her effort to find mobility in forehand posture she will be forced to carry and toss her head high, inverting neck muscles and further forcing down her topline. Muscles forced into overwork will tighten, preventing release and even restricting nourishment. Heel toe foot placement will become replaced with a plodding, slapping, jarring footfall.

Have a look at your horse as she strolls. Be honest with your evaluation. Her health depends on you. One of my strongest mantras is, “A horse’s health begins with posture.” Proper, healthy posture and body carriage is easy to establish, and maintain. But we must make the effort, for their sake. This is why I promote, and teach the exercises created by Peggy Cummings, taught me by my mentor Diane J. Sept, for the horse. A little effort can mean a whole new life for a horse. It’s up to us, our horses give for us all we ask. To ignore their posture and body carriage is not only letting them down, it is a form of neglect. ~ Gitty Up, Dutch.