dressage horse muscle development

Linda O'Leary

Watching, training, starting and fixing Thousands of Dressage Horses over the many Years, has taught us both many things, but the most important being the Horse and Rider benefit would be the evolution of the Muscle Development, to support the Horse in it’s difficult job. Indeed, this subject is closely linked to another recent article we have written, called “Equine Kissing Spine“.

We know, that the MAJORITY of ridden Horses within the ‘English Disciplines’ in this Country, are NOT ridden via systems that promote Muscle Development, rather, they deteriorate it.


  • So to simply explain, there are two basic systems of Riding and coaching of the Dressage Horse and Rider. One is via the constant contact of the Mouth of the Horse using 2 Reins (locking the Horse in a Box) and triggering constant negative pressures along the Topline, through the Spine and over the Sacroiliac. This system has an ongoing negative effect upon the Veterinary Welfare of the Horse…….or……..
  • Riding ‘ Inside Leg to Outside Rein’, which gives the Horse all of the necessary freedoms through the Body, to become ‘over the back’, ‘through’ and into ‘self carriage’, all setting up the Horse to be ‘off the forehand’ and carrying the weight on the Hinds. (engaged)

So here are those 2 forms and of course the Muscles tell the story.

Holding or not holding

A Horse can only show, beauty and freedom, within it’s movement, if the Rider allows with their Hands as not to block or interfere.

Linda O’Leary

One alternative system, the Philip Karl system, is the perfect example Muscle deterioration of the Dressage Horse, for it causes ‘hollowness‘ and of course, this is one of the contributors to ‘Kissing Spine’ as well. Here is an example of one such Horse, before and after 4 Weeks

So, in these reputed ‘enlighten times’, I do hope our systems bring focus upon the aged thinking of the Past.

John and Linda O’Leary

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