Core training and rehabilitation in horses
According to the bow and string model the equine thoracolumbar spine acts like a flexible bow that is maintained in a slightly rounded position by tension in the string, formed by the abdominal and sublumbar muscles. Insufficient tension in the string allows the weight of the viscera to extend the intervertebral joints, and the back becomes more lordotic.
It is desirable for horses, especially when they carrying a rider, to work in a rounded posture to maintain separation of the dorsal spinous processes. In horses that have poor natural posture or weak inactive hypaxial muscles the rehabilitation program should target activation and strengthening of these muscles.
The horse’s body consists of a series of axial segments (the head, neck, and trunk) and the 4 limbs that support and move the entire body. The core is the axial skeleton together with the soft tissues that have their attachment on the axial skeleton, which includes: the spinal ligaments, epaxial and hypaxial musculature, together with the extrinsic limb musculature of the thoracic synsarcoses and the pelvic girdle that transfers locomotor forces generated by the limbs to the axial segments.
Different kinds of exercises, first without rider and in a later stadium with rider, are useful to improve the horses core-stabilization. Usefull exercises are: stretching exercises, core strengthening exercises, balancing exercises, training in different gaits and speeds, exercises on circles, with poles, jumping and the use of foot cushions.
> From: Clayton, Vet Clin Equine 32 (2016) 49–71. All rights reserved to Elsevier Inc.. Click here for the online summary.