Exercises to strengthen your horse's hind end - useful exercises for riders
The horse's hind end does a lot of work when the horse moves. The back end and the horses glutes and hind quarters are his motor, the one that pushes the horse forward and brings strength and spring to the gaits. Thus, it is essential that your horse's hind end is strong and well-trained in order for him to perform at his best.
Whether you do dressage or showjumping, strengthening your horse's hind end is essential. In this article, we will look at some excellent exercises that can help you to strengthen your horse's back end.
Why is it important for a horse to have a strong hind end?
As mentioned, the horse's power comes from the hind end. It consists of many big muscles, and some of the most important ones are the gluteal muscles, biceps femoris, and semitendinosus. All these muscles work together with other muscle groups to move the horse forwards with strength and power.
Whether you are doing dressage or showjumping, having a strong hind end is essential. In dressage, the strong back legs allow the horse to push forward and upward more, move with power, stay in balance, and complete harder dressage exercises, such as pirouettes.
In showjumping, the jump starts from the hind legs pushing off the ground. The stronger the hind legs, the easier it is for the horse to stay in balance and to jump higher fences.
Best exercises for strengthening the hind end
There are many exercises you can do to increase strength in your horse's hind end. Below, we will look at some excellent ones for both dressage and showjumping.
Best exercises for dressage and flat work
If you are not much of a jumper and would like to focus on flat work, there are many exercises you can do to increase strength and improve balance.
For instance, transitions between gaits and within the gait are fantastic for strengthening the hind end.
Try this: start trotting along the long side of the arena and do 3-5 halts from trot. Stay still for about 3 seconds and ask the horse to move back to trot without taking walking steps in between.
You can also try transitions within the gait: instead of halting 3-5 times, ask your horse to collect 3-5 times. During the collection, the horse's speed should not change much, but the horse should aim to move upwards instead of forwards.
Another great exercise is a walking pirouette. You can start by quarter pirouettes at each corner of the riding arena. Remember, in a walking pirouette the horse's front end turns around the back end.
Below is a video showing how to do a walking pirouette:
Best exercises for jumpers
Jumping and cavaletti work are wonderful ways to improve the horse's stregth.
For instance, placing small cavaletti's along the long side with only 1 meter in between each pole and trotting over them is a good way to start.
If you are more advances, you can do gymnastics instead. For instance, you can place 5-6 small verticles or crosses with 3,5 meters in between each of them along the long side and let your horse find his way over them in canter. All you need to do is stay up on your safety stirrups and let your horse work.
Below you will see a video of some great cavaletti exercises:
An easy exercise for everyone
No matter if you are a dressage rider, a jumper, or just a trail rider, you can easily improve the horse's stregth by walking up and down a hill. It is essential to keep the horse walking up, as it is harder for them to push off of their hind legs and balance in walk than it is in trot or canter.
If your horse's hind end is weak or still developing, you will notice that your horse will try to trot up.
Make sure you have the right tack
Always remember to take care of your own safety as well. Whether you do dressage or jump, or are a beginner or a professional, you should always wear a helmet and use safety stirrups when riding.
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