Are you ashamed of your horse’s topline?
Not all members of any species are equal, and that includes horses. Some of these animals are structured so that they demonstrate a bad topline. You definitely would not enjoy your horse’s weak toplines, and it does not matter whether your horse is swaybacked or gets a bad topline when out of training.
There are some ways you can get your horse to improve his topline. Here are three of them.
Improve Topline with Backing Exercise
As with all animals, your horse’s rear muscles are active when he is backing up, all the more so if he lowers his head when doing so. Training your horse to back up keeping his head down has two benefits:
1. it improves the topline;
2. horses relax when their heads are held low.
Almost surely, your horse is going to resist putting his head down when backing. It may take a lot of effort on your part to get him to back with his head down. One way to get him to do it is to dangle a treat in front and well below so he has to reach down for it.
Depending on the horse I am training, I split the exercise into two components: backing and dropping the head. In the dropping part of the exercise, I crouch low and yank on the lead rope. His curiosity will make the horse lower his head to see what I am up to. When he does, he gets a treat from me by way of a reward. I progress from there to getting him to lower his head while I am erect. I reward him for doing what I want all the way through. I finally progress to the stage where I get him to hold his head low while backing.
The training can take many days: some horses are actually unaware of how exactly to back with their head held low. It is a matter of muscular coordination that the horse is not used to. At such times the horses can only stagger back a step or two with their head down. It can take a few days before the horse masters enough muscular looseness to back up for a distance with head held low.
When your horse finally gets the hang of walking backward with head held low, get him to do it for at least a 100 steps a day. This way, you will help him build up the muscles in his neck, back and hindquarters that affect his topline. Generally speaking, you should see positive results within 2 weeks of starting this exercise, no matter how recalcitrant he is.
Change the Feeding Style
Your horse’s poor topline may have something to do with his being fed from a raised container or manger. The topline gets strengthened by regular exercise of the muscles that contribute to it. You can add to the effect by employing a feed dispersing ground toy. Options on the market include the Nose-It, the Likit Snak-A-Ball and the Amazing Graze.
All of these gadgets roll around the ground when prodded. Your horse will be prodding them plenty as he tries to feed out of them. Keeping the head down and chasing the feed gadget can consume a lot of time, as the gadgets disperse food slowly. This means a lot of exercise for the horse’s topline muscles.
Over the years, I have used a lot of feed gadgets including the three named above and a few others that are no longer available. They work well because the horse has to keep his head low to chase them. As mentioned above, they disperse food slowly and force the horse to keep at it for an extended time.
You gain an additional bonus with topline stretching exercises in that these exercises help prevent stuck withers. This happens a lot with horses that are “built downhill.” Though they are actually not structured that way, they look like they are sloping down to the front because of stuck withers. Their posture will improve considerably when their withers are unlocked.
Feed Unrefined Coconut Oil
Unrefined coconut oil is an excellent remedy for horses with excess weight everywhere but on the topline. It appears that raw coconut oil goes straight to the equine topline. Almost all horses with lean toplines and fat everything else seem possessed of a personality mold that is Shao Yin all the way. These animals are capable of great performance, but look bad because of their sway backs and ewe necks. Coconut oil is the sure shot fix. You need the following resources for this type of horse:
• raw coconut oil, which you can order online or from your regular source of health feed;
• more knowledge regarding Shao Yin as well as the other equine personality types; you can get all the details you need when you access the Horse Harmony site. The site will tell your horse’s personality type if you provide it with relevant details of your horse’s personality and other characteristics.