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How Pilates Can Help Your Horse

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

This week I was excited to join Gillian Higgins' latest webinar – Pilates For Horses. As many of you know I am a huge fan of Gillian’s and share many of her values which I continue to share with my clients.


If you'd like to watch the recording you can do so HERE


gillian higgins horses inside out Pilates for horses, Horses Inside Out academy, webinar

As an Equine Massage Therapist, not only is it important to me to be able to detect and treat musculoskeletal restrictions during my treatments, I am then also keen to prescribe appropriate aftercare exercise to my clients to help their horses to continue to reap the benefits from their treatments, improve their strength, flexibility and posture and to be able to continue on as long as possible being the best version of themselves they can be.


I find it interesting that Gillian uses the term ‘Pilates’ when describing the exercises she shares in this webinar.


I, myself take part in a Pilates class twice a week with a well-established instructor.


If you are interested in really improving your own strength, flexibility and fitness I can highly recommend Peter Webber and his Zoom classes which are available LIVE on a Monday and Thursday morning at 7am or can be viewed in your own time on subscription.


You can check him out on Facebook too - click here.


gillian higgins horses inside out peters virtual yin yoga

Pilates is a fitness system developed in the early 20th century by a man named Joseph Pilates.


Joseph called his method "Contrology"


The system is based upon a mixture of flexibility exercises and strengthening/stability exercises.


Gillian explains at the beginning of this webinar how important it is to balance flexibility and strength in our horses, and this is why she calls her recommended exercises ‘Pilates for Horses’


During this webinar not only does Gillian give exercises to do, she also gives an anatomy and biomechanics lesson so we understand why we are doing the exercises and what effect they have on our horse’s body.


gillian higgins horses inside out Passive stretch - performed by a handler, with no active involvement from the horse, a passive stretch usually involves holding a position close to the end range of movement. active

Gillian explains how maintaining a healthy musculoskeletal system includes looking at:


· Posture

· Range of Motion

· Flexibility & Suppleness

· Strength & Core Stability


gillian higgins horses inside out assessing hindlimb posture, assessment, dynamic, hind leg, back horse, equine

And how there are 4 types of exercise we can do with our horses, but in fact some of the exercises we do may be more than one type at a time.


These include and a combination thereof:


· Passive movements

· Passive stretches

· Active movements

· Active stretches


The webinar is broken down into sections to help us work out which will be best for our own horses.


The sections include:


· Spinal Ligament System targeted exercises

· Hindlimb Attachment & Positioning (posture) exercises

· Thoracic Sling targeted exercises

· Abdominal & Core targeted exercises


gillian higgins horses inside out pilates exercises, whole spine extension stretch, carrot low between the legs, carrot stretches

In Gillian’s usual style, these exercises are demonstrated with beautifully painted horses, with their anatomy on the ‘outside’ which gives us a much deeper insight into what is going on beneath the surface when we are performing the exercises with our horses.


As I often say to my own clients, if may not look like much is happening from the outside but you would be amazed at the deep, intrinsic muscles inside the body, supporting the skeleton, and the effect you are having on those key muscles.


Two hours of intense learning and masses of information and exercises with life time access to re-watch at your own pleasure for just £10!



Horses Inside Out gillian higgins online learning hub - academy

I will be recommending this webinar to all of my clients and the bonus for them is I know their horse’s history and current limitations so we can adapt any of the exercises to suit their horse’s needs.


Whether that means scaling the exercise back to reduce load or stress on the body, or increasing the challenge with an increased load, repetition or adding a balance challenge.

The adaptations are almost endless and can always be amended depending on your horses needs.


I hope you feel excited and inspired to get involved in Pilates for your horse – and also, for yourself!!


You can purchase access to the recording of this webinar HERE


Thanks so much


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