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Understanding and Assessing Equine Posture

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Every month I look forward to Gillian Higgins’ webinars.

‘Webinar Wednesdays’ have been running monthly throughout lockdown, and each webinar has been jammed packed with information and learning opportunities.

This month I have been especially looking forward to as it’s one of my favourite subjects, and something I am often discussing with clients – Understanding and assessing your horse’s posture. This webinar is now available to watch anytime, anywhere as a recording in the Horses Inside Out Academy

Assessing Horse posture for health and performance

Not only was I excited to see what new things I would be able to learn from Gillian, but I was also excited that this information was going to be made available to any horse lover that would like to know more.

Prior to the webinar Gillian sent out an email to all participants with a hand out to print out.

This included some information on postural assessment and a postural assessment check sheet. (If you purchase the webinar recording there is also a link to download the handout.)

equine postural assessment form - check sheet

The webinar was divided into sections:

· Introduction to posture

· A system for assessing posture

· Hind limb position

· Spinal muscle chains

· Thorax position

· Head and neck position

The webinar ran for a whole 3 hours and included so much information – I made pages of notes and I already have a sound knowledge of this subject!

However if your knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics of the horse is very basic I think you will come away with a much greater understanding following this webinar.

You can purchase a recording of the webinar from the Horses Inside Out Academy, and the benefit of buying the recording is you will have life-time access so you can watch it in sections, at your leisure, and pause and play back as many times as you like so you can take it all in!

I think Gillian had planned for the webinar to run for 2 hours, but she filled it with so much information and also answered questions from the participants along the way so it ran a little longer, but I don’t think anyone minded as we are all thirsty for information and soaking it all in!

What you will get from this webinar is a good understanding of posture, why it is important for your horse to have good posture, and how to look at your horse, break their body down into sections and assess the posture of each section giving you an overall picture of whether your horse does indeed have a good healthy posture.

affect of riding horses on anatomy, posture, balance, and growth

Some of my favourite points that I took away from the webinar are:

  • Poor conformation cannot be changed but can look better with good posture

  • Posture is dynamic and will be different in each movement or moment

  • Good posture is key to good performance and the reduction of injury

  • Good posture can help prevent muscular fatigue

  • The horse’s back is designed to hold weight below the spine (the digestive system) and not above (the rider) – this is why we should aim for good posture BEFORE adding the rider

  • You can tell a lot about a horse by just assessing their posture – such as what exercises they will struggle with and what they will find easy

During the webinar Gillian shares detailed descriptions of several parts of the horse’s body including:

  • The spine, and a brief description of kissing spine (Gillian has promised a whole webinar dedicated to Kissing Spine in the future) But there is loads more about the horse's back in her first webinar: Understanding the Horse's Back which is available as a recording in the Horses Inside Out Academy

equine thoracic vertebrae, horse back T6 to T18,
  • The Sacroiliac Joint and Lumbosacral Junction - Learn more about this in Gillian's book and video course HERE

sacroiliac joint horse, anatomy, pelvis, lumbar vertebrae, sacrum, hip
  • The reciprocal system of the hindleg (hock and stifle joints)

reciprocal system, peroneous tertius muscle, superficial digital flexor muscle, horse hock stifle
  • The Thoracic sling and thorax position

The webinar also includes some useful ‘How To’ videos:

Gillian Higgins horses inside out tahi chi exercise demonstration

How to locate the Sacroiliac Joint and Lumbosacral Junction on your horse

  • How to teach your horse to back up well (Now available in the free tutorial video channel)

  • How to perform the ‘Thai Chi’ exercise with your horse

  • How to teach your horse to lower their head

Exercises relating to each section of the body that will help improve posture are also provided.

There is so much to talk about in relation to this webinar – I think the best thing to do is just go and watch it – it’s only £10 so amazing value for money! Find it HERE

Gillian’s final remarks at the end of the webinar were ‘With commitment and repetition we can make a difference’

I think that sums it up very well.

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