These images are of the hind quarters of a lovely 17hh warmblood. This horse has previously been trained to PSG level dressage. He has now retired from dressage and is enjoying a varied life as an active hacking horse, going on fun rides and hanging out with his friends in the field. His owner has taken the time to work out a management routine that suits him and is now looking to see how best to support his body to maintain his soundness and quality of life for many years to come.
As part of the static assessment phase of a treatment I look at the whole horse and make mental notes of what I can see visually, and combine this information with information I pick up through my hands as I palpate over the body.
I took these photos and thought it would be interesting to share them to show people what asymmetry looks like. An initial glance at the photo on the left shows a well rounded hind quarters. Then the photo above shows more detail and closer photo of the same horse. Although he is not standing perfectly square, you can see there is a noticeable difference between each side of the body.
There are a number of factors that can lead to asymmetry such as previous injuries, saddle fit, the horses natural way of going, stiffness from old age, how the rider sits, training methods etc.
Whilst I continued assessing and treating him we discussed how having a schooling plan, alongside his hacking life will help keep him supple. The use of exercises in the school will help his hind quarter muscles, and over time we can monitor progress by taking regular photographs to see if the asymmetry begins to improve.
We also discussed the importance of checking saddle fit, and also the rider ensuring their own back has been checked and that they have someone be the eyes on the ground to help correct their posture in the saddle too.
Every person and every horse naturally has some level of asymmetry about their body so the challenge is identifying it and then working to minimise the impact of it through training and exercises that are specific to each individual. Over time the body should become more even on each side and straightness becomes easier and more natural.
Getting your horses back checked is one part of many essential elements to ensuring they are as comfortable as possible. It goes hand in hand with other management and as such works in conjunction with your horses dentist, farrier, vet, saddle fitter, trainer etc. Each of these professionals bring their area of expertise to work as a team in helping you do the best for your horse.