Monday, April 9, 2012

Back tension: What are the signs?

Recently I read an article called "Evaluation of rein or bridle lameness " by the author of Tug of War, Dr. Gerd Heuschmann. The article appeared in a European Veterinary Conference proceedings. Heuschmann contends that it is the rider’s responsibility make sure that the back muscles are able to work freely  without any negative tension. When negative tension is present in the horse’s back muscles  it will show up in...
  •  a loss of rhythm at the walk
  •  loss of suppleness
  • problems in the contact 
  • the wrong type of suspension (more hovering steps than powerful fee moving energetic steps)
  • accentuation of the natural crookedness of the horse is also accented. 
  • slow hind leg and stiff front leg)
  • loss of rhythm, especially in the corners and on the bending lines
 I have to say that while I'm very, very tired of the whole rollkur hoo-ha, what I have read about Dr. Heuschman is very impressive. He is a veterinarian and apparently quite an accomplished rider in his own right. Everything he writes about riding makes sense and his philosophy is hardly controversial -- it strikes me as non-controversial, fundamental stuff.

At any rate, what do you all think?


  1. I have ridden with trainers who focus solely on the rider--position, straightness, etc. It can be amazing to see how much better the horse moves and how much more correctly when the rider is correct as well.

  2. Stacey, I came across this and thought of your blog. I was just in awe of this little girl's riding seat. She is going to be quite an amazing dressage rider when she grows up!!! What a lucky little girl to be riding such nice horses at that age! Sitting that trot can't possibly be as easy as it looks.

  3. Indeed; my current trainer is pure classical and I've spent many many lessons on my position. Interestingly this is the only time that I've been on the lunge and not felt like I was falling into the circle -her horses are straight and balanced even on the lunge! I'm learning to undo so much stuff in order to allow the horse to use its body. For example; you ride with your bones not with your muscles -so balanced seat in the saddle, no sucking in, no tension. Her horses actually stop by holding your breath and tensing your stomach! I know; I was completely skeptical the first time but wow. I'm a convert.

  4. If you have not watched Dr. Heuschman's DVD "If Horses Could Speak" I highly recommend it to all. Please watch it everybody!
    I recently attended one of his symposiums and it was wonderful.


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