EQUINE POSTURE FIX – ROCK BACK
Equine posture is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of our duty in horse husbandry. Poor posture breaks down everything over time. Sometimes not too much time. Of course equine posture begins in the foot. But that’s another discussion.
Recently I’ve had inquiries about mastering the “Rock Back.” A fundamental tool to all equine healthy posture. For it address the often neglected forehand. And the inquiries all had a common thread. The horse backs up, instead of lifting their forehand and “Rocking back.”
Why is that so important?
If a horse carries itself on the forehand, all posture breaks down. Leading to overall poor health.
Help to understand the fix
In a few steps, and perhaps adjustments to how we do the “Rock Back,” we can fix this.
So again. The problem is, the horse backs up. Instead of “Rocking Back.” This challenge is VERY common.
Be careful to make your request “Subtle.” Stand totally relaxed. Allow your lead line to hang loose.
Touch her chest and at the same time ask for the rock back. Make your touch just a very, very soft touch, and remove your hand quickly. WATCH for just a little movement in the chest muscles. It may be VERY small muscle movements at first. STOP at that.
Relax and do it again. With the same carefulness. WATCH the chest. But at the same time, watch the topline.
Small steps to success
Don’t worry about lifting up the entire thoracic sling at first. Remember, the horses who need this most, have the most difficult time with it. Their body is stuck. So it is difficult for them. That’s the reason it’s so important to do.
IF she backs up, pause, let him settle. Then bring him forward to EXACTLY where you started from. Then allow him a few seconds to readjust. Then try again. Soft touch.
Remember to PRAISE even the smallest success.
Once she gets it (and no telling how long this takes- and best to practice several times a day until then) you will be able to get the rock back by simply pointing to her chest.
How Does it look?
When the horse successfully “Rocks Back,” you will notice easily the uplifted chest (Thoracic sling) and shift of weight to the hind end. While she does not move her legs. You will see a softening in the chest and neck. The horse’s posture will be engaged and strengthened.
One last tip
You can, after the horse masters it, do the “Rock Back” while leading. Use a wand as in this picture to keep the chest and forehand up and engaged. In time the horse will create muscle memory and do it correctly, automatically. You should learn to notice this correct posture while in the saddle. Important.
Hope this helps! ~ Gitty Up, Dutch.
This and other great exercises are in my book, It’s For The Horses.