Your horse is one of your best friends. Like all friendships, the best way to maintain your relationship with your horse is by giving careful, thoughtful consideration to its needs. The way you choose to take care of the back of your horse is going to make a big difference in how happy your horse is, as well as how long you will be able to have fun together as you take it for rides. The bigger issue, of course, is the humane treatment of your favorite animal. Horses, despite their size and power—they can weigh as much as 2,200 pounds—still need to be treated delicately. They have bodily systems that are, in some ways, as fragile as those of humans, so constant thought and care needs to be applied when dealing with them. This is certainly true of a horse’s back. Here are some ways to make sure you take good care of your horse’s back, particularly while riding it.
Make Sure the Saddle is Straight
Many horses end up needing a back and knee brace
because the saddle has been continuously misaligned on its back. The saddle needs to be straight, otherwise, the horse’s back is not going to be able to take the strain. The proper disbursement of weight across a horse’s back is going to make it much easier for it to manage the rider. If the saddle is twisted, the rider will sit unevenly on top of the horse. This means the horse’s body, which is trying its best to keep the rider safely on top, is going to have to make constant, minute adjustments to its position in order to provide the safe support the rider needs. A misaligned saddle makes this much more difficult because the horse will have to adjust its natural body position in order to compensate for the unpredictable shifts in weight. Keeping the saddle straight, on the other hand, eases this burden for the horse.
Another reason a knee and back brace may be needed if the saddle isn’t properly aligned is because it puts extra strain on the horse’s knees and joints during the riding process. Each time your horse puts a hoof down, a huge amount of weight has to be balanced and managed in a smooth fashion. To make this happen, a variety of muscles, tendons, and ligaments need to interact in an intricate fashion. The knees and other joints will have a much harder time making the adjustments needed if the saddle is misaligned. Instead of the walking, trotting and running processes being simply a matter of doing them with more weight, the misalignment of the weight will cause uneven stress to be put on the knees. This could even result in a twist or an injury that a back and knee brace couldn’t even handle.
Make Sure Your Horse is Warmed Up
Similar to humans, horses need to warm up before engaging in intense physical activity. Even a back and knee brace will not guarantee the horse’s safety if it isn’t properly warmed up. Warming up involves getting the heart, lungs and circulatory systems functioning in a way that allows for physical exertion. It also helps get the muscles primed for action. Muscles that are not warmed up are much more likely to experience injury. As they warm up, they get stretched. This helps the individual muscle fibers to be more flexible and therefore prepared to handle extreme movements. Using a back pad, neck cover, or thermal knee brace can actually help in warming up your horse because they keep in some of the heat. The best horse blankets also help keep the horse warm and can be used during warm-up exercises.
Properly Support Your Horse
Just like people, horses often benefit for extra protections when it comes to the back and knees. A back and knee brace does more than just help support lightly injured joints. It also helps prevent injuries from happening in the first place. A properly used back and knee brace is going to support even the more strenuous movements your horse has to perform because it adds extra support to these sensitive areas.
In the end, properly looking after your horse is much like caring for your other friends. Put its needs first, and the relationship will last.