I am increasingly concerned

 

I have increasing concerns about the use of various ‘front-end’ devices as lunge aids, especially in relation to rehabilitation from Kissing Spine surgery, core strength, balance and related issues.
In order to separate the spinous processes the back has to lift up. This can only be achieved when the horse increases the engagement from behind and steps further underneath his body with the hind feet. This then allows the forehand to lighten and lift and, if the horse is relaxed and not restricted, the head and neck can lower and soften leaving the withers as the highest point along the topline.


The horse’s core strength comes mainly from the Multifidus System; a network of crossing muscles that connect and stabilise the vertebrae, maintaining the gaps between them and preventing dipping. The biggest part of this muscular system is behind the withers where it is also supported by the Semispinalis and, together, they provide lift for the back. The muscles of the hindquarters provide the power and propulsion to enable the lifting of the core hence the importance of ensuring engagement of the hindquarters during lungeing. Merely going along with the nose on the floor may look fine but is of no long-term use and the horse will tend to go on the forehand.

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When lungeing you need to really look at the horse and ask yourself if he’s truly working through from behind and is he lifting his back i.e. are his shoulders up? If not then you need to rethink the way you are lungeing. The EquiAmi lunge aid has been shown time and time again to be effective in promoting lifting of the back, developing abdominal and hind limb strength and, unless you have an exceptionally powerful and uphill horse, no front-end aid can achieve this.