As part of my new series “A Prescription For Parelli“ we will discuss games and exercises taught within the Parelli Natural Horsemanship program that can be used to target specific imbalances in the equine body. In this article we will cover partial disengagement as a ground exercise which can help improve both vertical and lateral spinal mobility, strengthen the topline, and increase pelvic flexibility. This article is not meant as a horse training tool or to teach equine massage, nor as a replacement for veterinary care. It’s purpose is strictly to provide you with simple bodywork exercises that can help increase the performance of your horse.
Many horses have a preference for one direction over another, just as people tend to be right or left handed. In many cases it’s more about muscle memory and ingrained habits than anything physical that needs to be “fixed”. With simple repetitive exercises and stretching, most of the issues noted below tend to resolve themselves without further intervention. You can greatly improve your horse’s performance and flexibility and be playing with your horse at the same time. You’ll not only be helping your horse physically, but building your communications skills and developing a better relationship with your horse.
Using the partial disengagement ground exercise can help balance horses that have a tendency to hold their ribs to one direction. This posture can affect things like canter leads, lateral flexion, being straight on the circle, and lateral movements just to name a few. You might even encounter some very subtle things with your horse which can be caused by the way your horse holds its ribs, like short-striding or resistance on the circle game to one direction with no apparent physical cause or an obvious associated lameness. It is also a very good exercise to help develop vertical flexion if you have a horse that carries itself hollow.
In the video segment below, 4-Star Parelli Natural Horsemanship Senior Instructor Christi Rains demonstrates the partial disengagement exercise on-line with her young National Show Horse “Sonny”. Christi has been a Parelli Natural Horsemanship Instructor since 1997 and offers natural horsemanship clinics at her ranch on the Brazos River near Glen Rose, Texas.
Lisa Carter is a Certified Equine Massage Therapist (CEMT), with multiple certifications from several different equine bodywork schools. She incorporates her knowledge and experience with Parelli Natural Horsemanship, equine bodywork and as a veterinary technician to provide her clients with the resources they need to make informed decisions for their horses. She encourages and facilitates network building between equine health care professionals, working together to find the best combination of therapies to meet the needs of the “whole horse”.
Are you ready to get better results with your horse? Put your equine health care team to work so you and your horse can be doing what you were meant to. Click here to get started!