The horse can find it difficult to achieve balance whilst carrying a rider. Poor conformation, injury, and failure to prepare and condition the horse may accentuate problems.
Horse training for the ridden disciplines presents several challenges. The natural tendencies of the horse to weight the forehand, and the shape of the spine should be given consideration.
4 Key areas to be mindful of are suggested below.
Natural balance of the horse
The hindquarters are wider than the shoulders. Inherent handedness can cause the horse to move crooked.
Horses naturally carry a greater proportion of weight over the front limbs. (Approx 60%).
2. Effect of weight on the back
The thoraco-lumbar curve is usually horse may present with: straight or slightly dorsally convex. However with the increased weight of a saddle and rider this orientation can become inverted (ventrally convex).This is a weaker shape for supporting weight.
3. How motion can significantly accelerate negative effects
If the horse is neither trained nor conditioned to carry the load appropriately, the musculoskeletal system will be subject to extra stress. Adopting an inappropriate balance may cause discomfort and show as resistance, bad behavior or eventual lameness.
4. Signs or Symptoms that there may be a problem
Left uncorrected, the unbalanced horse may present with:
Reluctance to go forward
Reluctance to adopt the correct bend
Soft tissue injury