The “MOTOR” Sits in the Back!

by | Nov 9, 2022 | Uncategorized

Exercises that help activate the hind, increase strength and flexibility in the lower back and help connect the front to the “motor” in the back

Transitions are the easiest way to get your horse to shift its weight to the back – when ridden correctly the transition is like us doing a quick squat, briefly shifting the weight to the back end, and then bouncing back up and forward.

Start with the easier transitions like walk- trot or trot-canter, and depending on your and your horse’s skills and fitness you can increase intensity with transitions like walk-canter, canter-walk, trot-halt, or canter-halt.

Changing Tempi

Frequent lengthening and shortening strides in all gaits (e.g. extending along the long side of the arena, collecting/shortening on the short side of the arena) are wonderful exercises too. Make sure to use your outer rein with half halts to shorten the stride and to get more hind leg engagement.

Rein-Back, then go Forward

Moving forward immediately after stepping backwards is another excellent training tool – it asks for engagement of the abdominal- and loin muscles. The better this exercise is performed, the more upwards the following forward movement will feel. Start with asking for walk after stepping back, then trot and with growing skills and strength also for canter.

Asking for a Correct Rein-Back

A mistake we see all to often is that riders ask their horses to step back in a quick, uncontrolled and hasty manner. Go slow, it is about your horse doing the steps correctly/keeping front and hind in a line, not about rushing far and fast.

Lateral Exercises and Circles

These are another useful training tool to strengthen and to increase flexibility. Especially exercises like shoulder in on a circle or counter-shoulder in help your horse to shift weight to the hind. The spiral, decreasing (the inner hind leg steps under and across) and increasing the width of the circle, too is an excellent exercise. Cantering on the circle whilst using half halts with the outer rein asks for more engagement of the hind legs – however, these exercises are not easily done correctly so please make sure you and your horse are ready for them!,

Jumping Grids and Ground Poles

Especially for jumping the horse needs to shift weight to the hind, hence integrating jumps or work with ground poles can be a valuable addition to training even if your discipline is completely different like dressage or western riding. Make sure you are using correct distances according to your individual horse’s height and stride length to avoid injuries.

Canter Work

The canter asks the horse to engage the “motor” in the back more than any other gait, and thereby teaches the horse to use its hind differently, to take up more weight and to push from behind.

With growing strength and skills canter work offers you a variety of exercises like changing tempi (extending/shortening strides), lateral movements, flying changes etc

Trail Riding

Get your horse out of the arena, a change of scenery is good for mind and body!

Riding up and down hills, circumnavigating trees and bushes, stepping over branches and fallen trees – all these are valuable training tools in disguise

Ground Work

Ground work teaching things like stepping sideways, backwards, over poles and lateral movements before the horse has to deal with the rider’s weight is a good start.

Make sure your horse is moving correctly and frequently change sides and directions.



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