How Can I Help My Horse's Back Muscles be More Supple

Question: “My horse’s back seems sensitive when I’m grooming him, especially on his left side. He also resists using his back when I ride, which makes bending and collection challenging! My vet said that my horse’s back muscles are sore and tight, but that there’s no underlying spinal problem. He also checked his teeth, hoof balance, saddle fit, bridle, etc. and they were all okay. I’d like to help my horse be more comfortable and athletic. Is there something I can do to help keep my horse’s back muscles more supple?”   


I’m glad you had your vet out to exam your horse. That’s an essential first step! Equine back discomfort is a common problem and there are many causes. The fact that your horse is more sensitive on his left side may indicate that he’s tightening his back in response to uneven weight on his back. In the 25 years that I’ve been working with riders, I have noticed that many equestrians unknowingly weight their left seat bone more than their right. You may hear this referred to as a “collapsed hip.” Your seat can look perfectly level, but you may still be putting more weight on one side of your pelvis. And your horse has no choice but to stiffen and compensate against this uneven load!

This means that the more you ride, the stiffer and more uncomfortable your horse gets. To remedy this problem, you have to relieve your horse’s back tension and learn to sit in a balanced way. Fortunately, I have two videos that can help you do just that. First, we’ll relieve your horse’s back tension. This short video demonstrates an easy-to-learn way to reduce equine back stiffness and improve athletic performance. It’s also a great way to spend quality bonding time with your horse.  

Next, we’ll focus on how you’re sitting. The gentle exercise in this video is done unmounted, in the comfort of your home or office. You just need a small hand towel and a chair with a flat seat. Unbalanced sitting is not only uncomfortable and damaging to your horse, but can lead to back pain and injuries in the rider. It’s definitely something you want to address!

Taking the time to do the movements described in these videos can help you and your horse be happy, healthy and athletic for many years.  

Mary Debono, GCFP helps horses, riders and dogs enjoy freer, healthier movement even if they are challenged by injury, arthritis, anxiety or aging. A Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner, Mary’s clients range from pleasure riders to World Cup competitors. Her ability to address the underlying cause of a problem in both horse and rider sets her work apart and can lead to surprising improvements in ability. A sought-after international clinician and bestselling author with over 25 years of experience, Mary can help you and your horse be more athletic, balanced and confident. Based in Encinitas, California, she offers clinics, private sessions and online programs and consultations worldwide. Please sign up for Mary’s newsletter to receive free educational videos and articles. Her website is Please “like” Mary’s Facebook page to get even more free videos!      

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