There is a lot to tell about the muscles of the horse - and I invite you to thoroughly study this subject - but in this article I will focus on some details which are important in Straightness Training.
Long back muscle of the horse
The ability of the horse to bend laterally is not only dictated by the vertebae, but also by the muscles. The long back muscle - the longissimus dorsi - plays an important role in lateral bending.
Much of the lateral bending around the rib- and lumbar area of the spine is caused by a contraction of the 'longissimus dorsi' on one side of the spine. In a left-bend, the muscles contract on the inside to bend the body. The muscles on the outside stretch in order to allow the bending.
Muscle tension can influence the ability to bend. When the horse is left-bended because of the natural asymmetry, the horse has therefore a natural tension on the muscles on the left side. Therefore the horse finds it more difficult to bend to the right.
The solution is straightness training.
Muscles in the hind quarters
To enlighten the fragile front legs while carrying a rider, we need to strengthen the muscles of the hind legs.
Bending the most important joints and carrying weight, requires the following important muscle groups:
* The hamstrings (green) are important for bending the stifle joint.
* The quadriceps (purple) are important for bending the hip joint.
* Strong buttock muscles (red) make it easier for the horse to carry weight.
By using Straightness Training exercises we can develop these muscles.
In collection the horse moves forwards-upwards and the horse should keep a long, stretched topline.
'Artificial' collection is not about making the horse shorter in the neck, the neck should always be longer rather than shorter, and arch from withers to poll, with the nose slightly in front of the vertical.
The horse should lengthen the top line (left picture) is stead his underline (right picture).
More information can be found in the Straightness Training Home Study Course.