Spine Lengthening; for horses and riders - ForTheHorse

Spine Lengthening; for horses and riders

Spine lengthening is a wonderful thing for our horses, and ourselves!

Have you ever experienced sitting at the computer or on your phone and you're getting into it, you get distracted with social media?  Do you notice something that creeps into your body? 

Like Susie Sloucher. So where do you feel that?

...In your neck

Where else might you feel it? Shoulders and lower back.... So basically neck and spine right? What is happening there is that parts of your neck and/or your spine are getting shorter and more tense or they could be also getting looser.

Let's take a look at the wonders of the spine lengthening...

If you'd like to work one on one with Chris and her team, to find out how to move your body in synchronicity with your horse's body,  click HERE.  You'll find this especially helpful if you want to progress quicker and easier with your horse.

#1.  Anatomy of Spine Lengthening

The brachiocephalis goes from our head to our clavicle and in the horse to front legs. If that is short or too loose, it will inhibit the movement of the front legs. 

The front legs won't move and also the vertebrae won't move. The head and neck won't swing... and the hindquarters won't swing as much as we would like. If they're too tight or if they're too loose or if they're too saggy, you'll have similar problems.  

If it's long it is able to perform to give the most movement of the front legs to pull the front legs forward.

Another part of the anatomy in action are the spinal muscles.  The spinal muscles attach the hips to the vertebrae and to the base of the neck. So if those muscles are too tight, like us sitting at the computer, there will be a highly reduced wave down the spine, in both humans and horses.  

The TMJ and poll are other important joints.

These are just a couple of the anatomical areas to consider, but we do always need to keep in mind that the body acts as a whole, not in separate parts.    

Use these key principles that we use in our For the Horse Program; Spinal Spiral and Slide Points, Equal Distribution and Balance so you can ride your horse with ease and flow.

#2.  Benefits of spine lengthening

The spine lengthening has many benefits all of high value (if done correctly):

  • Movement of the front legs - will increase when the spine is lenghthened 
  • TMJ pain - lengthening the spine will encourage the TMJ to open (seen as a tense closing of the mouth or clenching of the jaw)
  • Carry the rider better - spine lengthening is the longest possible position without being too long.  Building muscle here helps the horse to carry the rider on his/her back.  You can access the most athleticism of the horse so they can jump.
  • The neck becomes more flexible - therefore flexions to the side are easier and more fluid with a telscoping neck.
  • The center of gravity is moved more forward - horse finds it easier to move forward 
  • Tool to create alignment - there are different shapes of necks and bodies.  From the U neck or the really arched neck, and all in between. 
  • A young horse or restart horse - spine lenthening is really important to teach the different ways of moving.
  • warmup - spine lengthening is critical for a proper warm up.
  • In between difficult tasks - get the calmness... get the relaxation... get the lengthening of the stride, and then go back to the more difficult task. 
  • a gymnastic - moving in and out of the spine lengthening will strengthen and supple at the same time.
  • positive attitude - as a tool, you can use some neck extension to have a happier horse. If they are tense, that's going to be stressful. If they're too loose on the other hand and kind of all over the place, which a young horse might be, that's stressful as well.
  • a test of your quality of contact. So if you are in collection and you ask for spine lengthening, do you have it? That's a good test to say that you're working well.

#3.  How to do a spine lengthening

Spine lengthening is an extending and opening of the head and neck forward with the nose going forward without closing joints in the process.

To do this you give your hands forward...give the reins forward.  It's not much of a give forward and all depends on what the horse that you are working with is giving you.  You will respond to what you need.

If you have good contact and everything is in place you will get spine lengthening by allowing the head and neck to stretch forward... that's what you're looking for.

The other way to do this is with flexion.

And a third way to ask for spine lengthening is with a cue to ask for the head to go down and out.

Spine lengthening applies to the whole body. Not only are you extending the neck, you're lengthening the brachiocephalis and the vertebrae and all of the connective tissues involved as well

Spine lengthening is a tool that we use, a very important tool, a very effective tool to get elongation,  and to get tone in the muscle and provide support of the spine.

Chris and her team help you to achieve results as well as a lifelong, everlasting relationship with your horse.  Click HERE to apply so you can progress quicker and easier and avoid the frustration of not knowing where to go next.


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About the Author Chris Adderson

Chris Adderson teaches riders and horses how to move with ease and grace to create astounding results and lifelong relationships of their dreams. She teaches valuable skills and educational strategies to get more results, quicker and faster.

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