In this segment of “A Prescription For Parelli“ we will discuss how using the Sideways Game on the circle from Zone 1 can help with improving thoracic spinal mobility. As we’ve discussed in previous segments, horses can pick up habits of movement and posture such as holding their ribs bent to a particular direction, like being right or left-handed. This can cause them to have difficulty with things like lead changes, picking up a particular lead, lateral movements and being straight on the circle.
When your horse habitually holds its ribs to one side, you may even find your saddle slipping over to one side all the time as the saddle falls into the hole on the inside of the bend in the horse’s ribcage. You may also notice that your horse has difficulty bringing its head to the outside of the bend in the ribcage causing your horse to be bracey on that side. By helping mobilize the ribcage in both directions, we aide the horse in freeing up these “locked” areas of their bodies and re-learn a more balanced posture that will allow them to become more athletic and comfortable.
As riders, we can also have a profound affect on the horse’s posture and the ribcage in particular. Our horses will often mirror our own bodies. This can be a very good thing when our own bodies are in a balanced state. However, conversely, our imbalances can be translated to our horses as well. Make sure you check yourself to ensure your horse’s bent ribs are not just mirroring your own.
Using the Sideways Game on the circle has multiple benefits for your horse. In addition to increasing thoracic mobility, this exercise will also aide with pelvic mobilization and strengthening your horse’s loin, hindquarters, and shoulder, building the horse’s topline in the process. Getting your horse to really reach under itself with the inside hind leg and stretching down through the neck is a very powerful stretch and if they can learn to move that way, vertical flexion (collection) will come as second nature to them.
In the video segment below, 4-Star Parelli Natural Horsemanship Senior Instructor Christi Rains demonstrates how to teach your horse sideways on the circle 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”.
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