Encourage Your Horse To Raise His Back
Julie Winkel answered a member's question for EquestrianCoach.com.
Submitted by member: Lauren
Question: Can you give me some exercises on how to ride so that you raise your horse’s back? I have found some about the anatomy but not about what you actually do physically as the rider.
By Julie Winkel
Answer: Raising a horse’s back up requires two major structural parts from your horse: the hindquarters and the abdominal muscles. In order for a horse to use his back, his hindquarters need to be engaged, shifting his center of gravity rearward. This comes from educating your horse to leg and hand. Therefore, the first exercise you can do as a rider is lots of transition work, from gait to gait, as well as within the gait (shortening and lengthening).
The best exercise to strengthen a horse’s abdominal muscles (necessary to raise the back) is several sets of rein backs (10-12 steps 3-4x) during the course of daily work. This can be achieved on or off the horse.
As a rider, the lighter you can ride in your seat and the stronger from your leg, and the lighter in your hand, the better. This encourages a horse to understand how to and be allowed to raise his back and use himself in the best possible way. I hope this answers your questions.
For more information, check out my article in The Chronicle Of The Horse titled “To Sit or Not To Sit?” And Bernie’s video topic of the same title: Building Blocks to a Great Position: Part 5 To Sit or Not to Sit.