Jenny is an Equine Physiotherapist, Rehabilitation Specialist and Spinal Manipulation Therapist, and has been working with horses professionally for over 10 years.
We asked Jenny to describe a bit about her work.....
''Firstly I absolutely LOVE my work with horses! I have become specialised over time, in a few key areas: back pain in horses, postural and movement improvement, and rehabilitation after injury. These are areas that really motivate me as I see such big positive transformations in horses going through rehabilitation or posture/movement improvement!
I live in Staffordshire in the Midlands (UK), and over the last couple of years have developed a variety of training courses, ebooks, my blog, a membership and zoom calls, all to enable ways to work together without location being an issue!
I love working with horses owners who want to learn more about their horses, and want to improve their horses so that they can be the very best version of themselves!''
Jenny has written a series of blogs for Horzehoods readers, on some of her specialised areas, so we hope you will find them interesting and informative...we are looking forward to reading them too. Each episode will release every Wednesday.
BLOG 2: Is your horse left or right handed?!
Did you know that your horse is either left or right handed? All horses are 'one sided', crooked, stiffer on one rein, whatever we want to call it...they are all crooked to one degree or another. And it affects the whole body unfortunately.
One sidedness is present in our horses bodies throughout their life, and it means that they can do movements in one direction better than the other. They prefer to take their weight on one hindlimb/diagonal pair more than the opposite hindlimb/diagonal pair. So there is a constant compensation going on throughout their body, for their crookedness, especially within exercise.
Have you noticed it in your own horse?
Over time, the horse ends up with one hindlimb stronger than the other, and this is what gives the uneven feel in the contact, uneven stepping, one hindlimb unable to step under the body as well as the opposite, one rein 'stiffer' than the other, unequal bend, and unequal movements on each rein. Your horse can also be quicker on one rein than the other, or take bigger strides on one rein, or even hold his head and neck more towards the outside of the circle.
These are all manifestations of crookedness. It affects the limbs, but also the body. The unequal use of the hindlimbs, creates an uneven body, for example the ribcage bulging in one direction, the horse being stuck slightly in bend in one direction, and stiff on one rein, so unfortunately it's a negative spiral.
My view as an equine physiotherapist is that we need to help our horses by working on their crookedness in the limbs and body, to help reduce the risk of injury, and improve their flexibility and symmetry both in the body and in movement. A crooked horse will find it difficult to stretch down and use his back properly as he's stuck in compensation mode.
If we don't address their crookedness, we risk uneven wear and tear and the downward slope towards injury, and we are just constantly strengthening the crookedness pattern with standard exercise...it doesn't go away on it's own, we need to work at it!
SO WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP OUR HORSES?
I like to dig down to the foundation level with horses, and working on their natural crookedness pattern is something that has a far reaching effect! I work in a sympathetic, corrective way with horses, and find that once their body is fully mobilised and functioning, and we have removed as much compensation as we can, we can then access their crookedness pattern and start to teach the body to move symmetrically.
If we can re-train the horses hindlimbs, so that both limbs are supple/flexible AND strong, and that they operate equally, we create a more even push through the body from the hindquarters. This then translates through the whole body, to give a more symmetrical body and movement. (And an easier ride!)
I use the following to address crookedness in the horse...:
- Regular physical treatment to re-align the body, THEN...
- Core exercises daily
- In hand exercises to work on flexibility and maximum mobility of the body and limbs
- Use of poles for mobility and equal limb flexion
- Lateral work in hand and ridden
This is a big area of my work, I see crookedness in ALL horses that I work with, and see huge transformations with horses that are doing the core work and in hand exercises to correct their crookedness, in terms of improved movement, improved flexibility, improved core strength and posture, improved ability, improved ease of movement, increased competition scores...so many benefits for your horse!!
And this is why I set up my online courses and members group, to help horse owners to dig into this foundational work that can transform your horse!!
If you would like to learn more...as a special offer for Horzehoods customers, here is a discount code for my Core Exercises online course!! It's an instant access course, which includes a detailed lesson on posture, plus the 2 sets of exercises that I use and recommend on a daily basis for core strengthening! Use the code at checkout on my website, details below: CODE HH20
Online Courses: https://www.equinephysicaltherapist.co.uk/training