Image credit: Hyygain
Topline is the Holy Grail well, almost! It’s what we are all striving for in our horses but what is it and how do we get it? Well, really topline boils down to muscle – specifically the muscles along the neck, withers, back, loin and croup or hind quarters. These make up the horse’s topline and how it looks can vary greatly from horse to horse.
Factors that can influence a horse’s topline include:
- Pregnancy or lactation
- Lack of or incorrect exercise
- Poor saddle fit
So what can you do to improve your horse’s topline?
Well there are 3 key ways:
Muscles are made from protein – so if you want muscles – you need to have protein – simple! There are lots of scientific explanations that explain how to build topline and lots of products on the market from horse food designed for topline, comprehensive feed balancers, forage balancers, probiotics and digestive aids. We suggest to make life easier talk to your feed merchant to find out what feed will suit your horse or pony best with a view to building up topline.
This is the real number one key to building topline. There are lots of schooling exercises you can do to help develop your horses’s topline and therefore his strength starting with allowing him to use his entire body and swing his shoulders freely working long and low – this will build his long muscles and help him begin to stabilise his balance. Work with an instructor to help you and get a programme that will give you goals to work towards. Remember, while exercise will condition muscle, it does not make muscle – thats where the correct diet comes in ( see how it’s all linked?!)
It’s important to consider how your horse lives – if he is stabled all day then he’s not using his muscles – so aim to turn him out where he can move and stretch freely – all movement helps to exercise those all important muscles. Think also about the equipment you are using – does your saddle fit properly – that will affect the way he moves, as well your position when riding – check that you are balanced and that the horse can move his back as he needs to.