Dynamic Mobilization Exercises Activate the Sport Horse’s Core

Anyone who has pilates classes knows how it strengthens your “core” muscles, but did you know similar stretches and exercises can also strengthen and condition your horse? Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS, Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University, discussed the importance of dynamic mobilization exercises to condition and strengthen at
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Anyone who has pilates classes knows how it strengthens your "core" muscles, but did you know similar stretches and exercises can also strengthen and condition your horse? Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS, Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University, discussed the importance of dynamic mobilization exercises to condition and strengthen athletic horses and increase their range of motion at A Winning Edge: Promoting Peak Performance in Equine Athletes, a horse owner seminar held on Sept. 24 in Lexington, Ky.

According to Clayton, core strength (of the muscles that support and move the neck, vertebrae, ribcage, and sternum) improves control of horses' neck and back movements, allows the horse to generate propulsion more effectively, and protects against back injuries. The core-strengthening dynamic mobilization exercises that Clayton is a proponent of are a series of baited stretches and stimulated movements performed from the ground, preferably in a safe enclosed area.

"The horse follows a controlled movement pattern that stretches the neck and back and strengthens muscles used in performance," she explained. Baited stretches include enticing the horse to bring his chin to his chest, knees, front fetlocks, girth, flank, or hock and holding the position for several seconds.<

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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