Biomechanics...engage the core...lift the back

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by BluemoonOKy, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Some years back a HUGE number of articles came out from...various authors....LOL...that discussed the role of the abdominal muscles. PRETTY SOON, all you HEARD about were 'abdominal muscles'. And you could engage them by tickling your horse with a pencil, and that humping up of his back that he did when you poked him with a pen in the belly, that was GOOD.

    EVEN WORSE...we were told, 'Oh! That's his abdominal muscles that do that!'

    Yeah-um-no.

    Now...I will admit, that during a particularly enlightening dressage lesson, a top trainer praised my horse's abdominal muscles, and I - I told the truth. "Well, he's numping the mare he's turned out all day with, all day, so..."

    The clinician, Carol Grant, said brightly, 'Well it's working!"

    So...good trainers do look at abdominal muscles, and abdominals DO have A role. They do seem to do SOMETHING. They aren't the be all and end all of muscles, though. The hysterically prominent role given them, as if they're the only muscles that are involved is - it's not accurate.

    And there are two very important things going on when horses move.

    For one, especially at the gallop, their body moves both up and down, and from side to side. Their spine has a regular undulation from side to side(best shown in Jackson's 'Effective Horsemanship').

    Their guts slosh back and forth(backwards, forwards) as their body rises and falls with each stride, and changes angle with each stride(forehand goes down, then up, hind quarters go up, then down). It's kind of a pump action. It's much more in the gallop, too. But there is this regular sloshing type motion that goes on. And that actually contributes to the horse's motion and momentum. And muscles both allow and limit that action.

    And yes, their back moves. NOT solely or even chiefly, due to abdominal muscles. There's an entire complex of muscles that wrap AROUND the spine and stabilize it, for one thing. Then there's another layer (layers) that move that spine. There's the effect on the back of the neck, shoulder and hind quarter as well. There's the effect of the weight moving through space, which causes other muscles to contract and give rhythmically, to keep that movement controlled.

    SOME of the muscles involved in all these different motions are incredibly complex, like muscles of the neck that are divided into many compartments, where one end of the muscle has one job, and the other end has another job, and both ends have completely different characteristics. Some are fast response, and others slow response, low energy use muscle. It's like an orchestra, and it all works together. No one part is indispensable, and no one part is more prominent than the other.

    What the back does with a large, heavy, fast moving horizontal animal, is not, in the end, much at all, like what it does for a little two legged mammal, us. Being bigger and heavier and faster DOES make a huge difference. Being horizontal makes a huge difference.

    The back of the larger animal has a much larger weight to carry(suspend), and because it moves at much greater speeds, a great deal of stabilization to do as well.

    And no. Your abdominal muscles don't flex(hollow) your spine. But they sure as heck do a lot to stabilize you as you flex your spine, and that's a lot of what riding is about, and even, what the horse's motion is about. Muscles A and B may contract to make Motion Y, but in fact, there's a whole ORCHESTRA of muscles working WITH THEM at the time, to stabilize that body while it's in motion.

    Think about a giant Sherman the Dog balloon at a parade. Two ropes essentially haul him down the street, but ALL the other ropes are still involved in keeping him parallel to the street.

     
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  2. BluemoonOKy

    BluemoonOKy Senior Member

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    I should not have used the term abdominals in my last post...I mean core and that is included in the title of the thread. And, want to correct that mistake immediately.

    It can be apples to apples when it's similar. And apples to oranges when its not.
    We are asking for complex movements and yes, to me, that is like/ similar to yoga and my objectives for correct alignment and psyche are the same...even though alignment may be different, I am striving for an alignment which allows the lungs to fully function and to place the organs with optimal protection as they're meant to have. When the bones, muscles, etc. stack in a certain way the body functions most efficiently with the least amount disruption to the systems. Does the human body and equine body bare resemblance ? Of course. It's identical in many ways.
    Just like in yoga, through riding/ training techniques, we can train an horse to function with higher levels of coordination, propriorectption, strength and flexibility.
    To me, the core begins at the pelvic floor. I am talking of the CORE. Meaning center of gravity. Layers and layers of muscle leading to the pelvic floor.
    Yes, I agree that pelvic movement also can articulate the spine and it's important to point out...those movements also begin...in the core. And, while a person may be under the impression they're isolation get certain structures in the body in a vacuum, consider that fascia affected in the soles of the feet can affect fascia at the crown of the head. Most people and horses are not as adept at controlling the body as they or their handlers would like to fancy they are able to.
    Again, no one is stating horse should be forced into any position with the neck. Like I said earlier, I don't use nor recommend/ see a need for gadgets and didn't notice them in the video a) as I viewed it and b) there were examples where they were not using gadgets to ask for a stretch.
    I think we are saying some of the same things here.
     
  3. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Can you tell me where the horse's Center of Gravity is?

     
  4. D_BaldStockings

    D_BaldStockings Senior Member

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    This is a stretch
    http://c8.alamy.com/comp/CTRGP3/shetland-pony-foal-stretching-back-leg-CTRGP3.jpg

    and this
    http://www.visibreteam.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/8714221331_d85611077c.jpg

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/f4/97/eb/f497eb06bff6fcf6b8b6d4a4d3e8d629.jpg

    Note that neither of these stretches drops the head to the ground.

    So Why is it that people ask the horse to 'peanut roll' or 'nose dive' as a 'stretch' to 'lift the back'?

    I wonder if people really understand what they are doing or if they simply put Happy Labels on it, sometimes: We're doing this and calling it XXX because we are trying to do XXX - ?
     
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  5. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Horses do all sorts of weird stretches.

    We looked in my friend's stallion's stall once and he was dropping his back down practically to the floor, it seemed like, and tucking his head way behind the vertical.

    I said, "What's he doing?"

    She said, "Practicing for the national championships at Grand Prix next week", very sardonically.

    (I think the horse had some sort of itchy skin condition - but it was hysterically funny).
     

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