Sunday, October 16, 2016

Proprioception (and How I Am Just Plain Semi-Feral)

Sometimes I have no idea what gets people excited.

This would get lots of equestrians excited

Some days I have the pleasure of learning such.

But the topic of today, is proprioception. 

It is defined by Dr Clayton of MSU as "Proprioception refers to a horse's awareness of his body's position and movements, including limb and foot placement. Unconscious proprioception coordinates a horse's posture and basic locomotion, whereas conscious proprioception facilitates more complex locomotor tasks."

Equestrians use this quite often without realizing it.  One such exercise is the basic use of poles to increase or change the horse's stride and gait. 

Another is the use of tactile bracelets, which might jangle on a horse's pastern, causing them to pick up their feet higher.  Often seen with saddleseat horses, these devices can help retrain the muscles of a horse that is prone to toe dragging.

What does this have to do with my blog? 

Well, I just think it's interesting.

Chili has had multiple injuries and while she is sound, I want to strengthen and encourage her to utilize her hind legs equally.  She had multiple injuries to the same left hind, so it has left her more prone to counter cantering, or resisting and bracing the canter when I ask her to load and use that left leg. 

I saw another person that engages in equine rehabilitation utilizing a soft polo wrap in the above fashion, but more in the figure eight style.  The goal is to have the horse have the tactile stimulation of something on their hindquarters and to evenly engage both hind legs.

Poor horse had to think hard. 

The wrap wasn't on long, but she did work evenly behind based on her inner thigh sweat.  I just lunged her for a few minutes, popped her over some cavaletti, and then asked for a clean canter transition both ways.

Holy smokes, they were clean with very little fuss, no rushing, no worrying. 

I don't think it's a miracle cure, but why not use a bit of stimulation to help a horse remember that hey, you do have TWO hind legs and that it's OK to use them?

I posted these photos on my Facebook.

I forgot that I just do things in my typical semi feral way.  I like experimenting with different theories and ideas.  I have utilized a lot of physical therapy in my personal life, given that I have hyperflexibility issues.

Well, the above photos did get someone quite upset, since it isn't the true way to ask a horse to collect and to shift weight to the hindquarters.  Despite my explanation, I don't think it went very far.  I think that I just need a warning of "horse person: trying unusual things.  Sorry for the strict DQ."  :)

So my apologies if this post was upsetting. 

Anyone else enjoy alternative therapies?  I don't have any experience with Kinesology taping, but I have a friend who is an equine massage therapist that is using it with quite a lot of success.

Goal here is to help open the shoulder to help the horse with the jump


  1. Never though kineseology tape could help while riding, I only know of it as a resting therapy.

  2. I've used the same set up with a standing wrap. Definitely gets the butt working!


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