Biomechanics is the study of the mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of living organisms. Biomechanics can be applied to all aspects of riding and training. We use it to help fit a saddle to a horse, to help our horses find proper balance and relaxation, to help a rider have better positioning over a jump and so much more!!
Teaching riding proper posture while in the saddle and training horses to use themselves biomechanically correct is essential to successful horsemanship. Furthermore, biomechanics directly corresponds with equine behaviors. When a horse is undeveloped muscularly, he cannot balance himself. Let alone a rider.
When we push a horse that is undeveloped in its thoracic sling, we create many more problems in the body such as nerve impingements, lameness, and overcompensation, to name a few.
Pain causes behavior problems, tension, and emotional issues. Teaching your horse to use himself correctly and taking the time to build him up properly both physically and mentally with allowing for longevity and better health for your horse.
When you develop an eye for proper equine posture, you will be able to help determine if your horse is physically able to perform the task you are asking or if they need help with the proper exercises to help them build up their body and thoracic sling to help them properly balance and function with freedom of movement and freedom from pain.
In the first picture, you can see the mare I am riding has her poll as the highest point and her face is right on the vertical. Her center of balance is back underneath me and she is traveling forward and reaching underneath her. She is lifting forward and up. Her pasterns making contact with the ground have approximately the same angle so that means she is evenly distributing her weight and is not front end heavy. Her front and hind leg in the air have basically the same action going on and same lift.
All this is enabling her to lift from her thoracic, open her back, engage her core and not balance using her poll and neck. She is in collection.
In the bottom photo you can see she is now behind the vertical and below her withers. You can see now that her balance is tipping forward onto her front end. Kind of like falling forward on her face. Her neck muscles are bulging instead of being nice and smooth. Her front pastern is loading way more than the hind pastern and
the front leg in the air is closer to touching the ground than the hind leg in the air.
Why is being behind the vertical so dangerous to our horses?
This mare is essentially loading her forehand and putting a lot of stress and tension in the neck and poll. She cannot collect but only drag the rest of her body along.
This is why teaching proper posture and teaching the horse to use themselves is so important!!
When horses are heavy on the forehand, they brace on us because they are falling forward because their center of balance is too far forward. They then borrow from other parts do their body to try and make up for the lack of balance. This causes tension, potential lameness down the road and pain.
My goal as a horsewoman is to help horses be pain free and feel good in their bodies. I want to teach others the importance of preserving and protecting the horse’s body and their mind.
Teaching a horse to be happy in their body and pain free is so important as it greatly benefits the rider as we end up not having to train for a headset but we train for correct posture. And when that happens, we preserve and protect the horse and the training becomes so much easier as we are not having to force the horse into a position. Instead, the horse naturally finds their place of comfort and then can perform easier and freer as they have built the proper muscles for collection and can carry themselves.
Train for proper posture. Not for a “headset”.