Are you also proud of your horse having a “double domed buttocks”? 😝 Because for me, it is the ultimate result of good muscle training and the sign of a well done job. So I am explaining here how to beef up the hindquarters of your horse!
After writing on the neck, shoulders, chest, back and abs, all I had left was the hindquarters. So it’s done. Let’s see together how to make sure your horse super muscled buttocks.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are some things you should know about.😉
1 – Small parallel between Human and Horse
Let’s start with a bit of anatomy by comparing humans and horses.
As for the rest of their anatomy, men and horses are very similar. Only the proportions being very different and their pelvis is not oriented such as ours because of their quadrupedness.
So, their hocks are actually our heels. And their stifle is actually our knee!
2 – The reciprocal apparatus, a peculiarity of the horse
Horses have an anatomical particularity that is rather special to explain. It’s called the reciprocal apparatus.
In fact, the reciprocal apparatus is a ligamentous and tendinous system of joints solidarity on the stifle, hock and the fetlock. In fact, these three joints are dependent on each other through these two structures: the metatarsal femoro cord that connects the bottom of the femur to the middle of the canno. And the superficial flexor of the finger that goes from the femur to the pastern, passing by the hock.
As these structures are rather rigide, folding the stifle and the femoro-metatarsal rope will mechanically drive the canno the hock will then flex. As the hock flexes, it causes the pastern to back to bend the fetlock.
Same story during extension!
It’s like if when bending your knee, it would pull your toes up and bend your toes automatically.
So, no need to look for muscles below the hock, there are none! While humans have muscles situated by the sole of the foot so to move their toes.
It is due to the horses’ adaptation to races therefore, to gaits of high speed. This allows the horse to mobilize the entire lower joints of the hind limbs only through the muscles of the thigh. It is a fabulous energy saving system needed to go faster 🙂
3 – Why do some horses have buttocks that are sharper or flatter than others?
I told you a little about conformation in previous articles. I find that conformation of the hindquarters is much more noticeable than that of the shoulder for example. It deserves a little word so that you can quickly understand why your horse has a flat buttock, or on the contrary, why he has a pointed rump.
In fact, these differences in appearance come from the relative conformation between the sacred vertebrae, the pelvis and the femur. Depending on the length and inclination of these different parts, the appearance and locomotive qualities will not be the same.
In fact, these conformations’ differences have impacts on the horse’s potential and the difficulty you will encounter when training him. However, exercises remain the same for all. 😉
I will discuss the importance of conformation in a next article. (#Suspens)
4 – Hindquarter muscles
Let’s talk about serious things. Hindquarter muscles are divided into 3 groups:
- Hip and pelvis muscles
- Thigh muscles
- Leg muscles
Let’s look into detail at these three groups and how to train them!
These muscles are the ones mobilizing the femur. The most visible of them shape the rump. These are the middle and superficial gluteal muscles. They cling to the top of the lumbar vertebrae and end at the top of the femur. They allow to put the hip in extension (to push back the hindquarters).
For horses, the middle gluteal muscle is the most efficient expander and agent of propulsion and relaxation. Jean-Marie Denoix
The gluteal muscles also have an abduction function. That is to say, they spread the hind legs outwards.
Concerning hip flexion, it is the Psoas-iliac muscle that takes care of it! Remember? We are talking about it the how to build back muscles article.
[…] This is the most effective agent of hip flexion. It is THE engagement muscle the hind legs. Jean-Marie Denoix
The femoral muscles are called so due to being located around the … shin! No it’s a joke. They are around the femur of course!
These are divided in 3: femoral cranial / caudal / medial.
The femoral cranial stand in front of the femur. They help bending the hip and put the stifle in extension. The Quadriceps Femoral is part of those muscles.
The femoral caudals stand behind the femur. They are the ones being well drawn on rather dry horses. They form two masses behind the buttocks. Depending on stride moment, their function will differ. To put it simply, they mobilize the stifle and the hip.
Finally, the medial femoral muscles stand inside the thigh. They play the role of adductor therefore, bring the hind legs inwards!
The are the muscles situated around the shin! They end in long tendons which fix themselves on the hock, or on the top of the canno, or even below the pastern, on the knuckles.
Their role will be to flex or extend the hock and the fetlock!
Later on I will spend a little time explaining how they influence different movements.
5 – 5 exercises to strengthen your horse’s back
Now that you know all the muscles and their roles, let’s see how to develop them. Here are 5 exercises to strengthen your horse’s back.
Exercise # 1 – Hill and slope trainings
Same as for us, going uphill and downhill is great more gluteal muscles!
When going uphill, the horse must deploy much more force to propel itself forward. For this reason, it is a very good exercise to develop concentric contraction of gluteal muscles, including the middle gluteal muscle (the largest), and caudal femoral.
Exercise #2 – Reinback
I’ve already talked a little about this in the back muscles article. It is great to muscle the iliac Psoas muscle. Therefore, to improve the hind legs engagement. It makes the horse train in “reversal of the fixed point”
When the horse moves forwards, the fix point of the iliac Psoas are the
vertebrae and the ilium. The mobile point is the femur. He will pull forward the femur. When the horse reinbacks, it’s the other way around! The femur becomes the fixed point while the mobile point is down spine and the ilium. The muscle has to pull the horse’s body backwards which is a little more difficult for him to do.
Inversion of the fixed point
To picture this exercise, imagine you lying on your stomach at the end of your bed, arms hanging in the air and mimic pull ups movement with your arms. Too easy ! Very roughly, in this case the fixed point is your body and the moving point are your arms. Now, go do some pushups. There it becomes a little more complicated … because you have reversed the fixed point (your hands) and the moving point (your body).
In addition to the work of the iliac Psoas, reining back allows to train the caudal femoral and middle buttocks in concentric contraction since they will allow the retraction of the hind legs!
Also, you can combine reining back with fast start to trot to train “plyometrics“. It trains explosive power of muscles by quickly linking concentric and eccentric contractions. So it’s a great muscle-building exercise. What to do for beautiful rounded buttocks!
Exercice #3 – Jumping from walk
Jumping from walk is amazing to build the buttocks. Compared to trotting or cantering jumps, jumps from walk have the advantage of requiring much more strength because of the lack of speed. It is therefore a very good exercise to develop explosiveness thus, gain muscle volume.
For that, tackle a small fence at walk. The fence must be very small at first, then make it higher as your horse understands the exercise. Be extremely soft with your hands (almost long reins). And prepare to be moved! 😅 Feel free to hold the mane at the beginning.
All muscles of the back hand are required to make the horse jump. It is an extremely complete exercise. It will also teach horses that tend to pull towards the fence to jump slowly, giving them confidence in themselves. Horses that do not break down their jump enough will also learn from this exercise.
Exercise #4 – Raised staggered poles
The raised staggered poles at all the three gaits make it possible to accentuate the normal movement of the limbs during the stride.
The hind legs will go “more back “, training the middle buttocks, femoral and hamstring caudal. They will flex harder and have to search further, making the iliac psoas, the cranial femur and the cranial leg muscles work harder
This is a very good routine exercise! It can be done almost every day!
Exercise #5 – Lateral movements
Finally, lateral movements are perfect for training on the adduction (pull the forelegs inwards) and abduction (spread the hind legs outwards). They will thus allow to develop the medial femoral (those who are inside the thigh) which play the role of adductors. And the medius gluteal muscle and some femoral cranial muscles which play the role of abductors!
All lateral movements do not work muscles the same way, but all are good for a complete training!
📚Read more: 7 reasons to train lateral movements everyday
A little extra boost 💪
Do not hesitate to feed your horse supplements in order to help him gain muscles. This is the case of Myostem Mass Audevard laboratories. This supplement is enriched in essential and limiting amino acids. It is a protein components found in muscle cells. Muscle gain is often difficult because of the lack of these amino acids in the diet. Myostem mass brings this complement and promotes muscle gain!
It was therefore designed to participate in the muscular development of horses in training, aged horses and growing foal. It also helps to limit the muscular loss of horses in prolonged training break!
There you go, those were a few exercises to help you train your horse’s buttock! Send us pictures when your horse gets a great buttock!
Till next article,
Resp. R&D at Equisense
J.-M. Denoix, Biomécanique et gymnastique du cheval. Paris, France: Vigot, 2014.
Courbette : ©Alain Laurioux, IFCE
Photo de couverture : ©Nathalie Hupin – Equisense