Understanding the Biomechanics of Your Horse

As a rider and trainer you are responsible for understanding how your horse moves. The USDF definition of Biomechanics, borrowed from Webster is “the application of the principles and techniques of mechanics (the branch of physics that deals with the motion of material bodies and the phenomena of the action of forces on bodies) to the structure, function, and capabilites of living organisms.”

Thus, when asking your horse to do something, you must be certain you are not blocking him from moving in the desired way. One common mistake is that riders hang on the inside rein, thus blocking the inside leg from coming up under the horse to bend properly or take the canter depart.

A study of the horses muscular structure is important when working with your horse. Each horse is an individual which means that you must take his conformation into consideration when asking for a movement. Dr. Hilary Clayton is an expert in studying and understanding the mechanics of equine performance and lameness. She is the author of two very important books, The Dynamic Horse and Conditioning Sport Horses. These are vital to any serious horseman. The following illustration of the neck muscles is from a recent lecture by Dr. Clayton.