Building a strong topline in your horse ensures that he can carry himself properly and comfortably. It also results in an improved conformation, and can make a big difference in the show ring. When your horse’s topline is properly developed, the change should be gradual. These tips will help you develop your horse’s topline correctly.
Work in an Engaged Frame
The first step to building your horse’s topline begins with your riding. When you ride, make sure that your horse is engaged from behind and is carrying himself properly. This begins with teaching your horse to soften and give to the bit, lowering his head, but it’s just as important that your horse is powering himself from behind as he moves. Good, proper riding in a natural form will build your horse’s topline.
Do Hill Work
Hill work is another excellent way to build your horse's topline. When doing hill work, do just a little bit at a time until your horse is used to the increased physical effort. Walk your horse up and down hills, and then gradually progress to the trot. Hill work requires that your horse use his hind end and will help build muscles over his topline.
Work on the Longe in Side Reins
Along with working your horse in a proper frame under saddle, using side reins while working your horse on the longe line can allow your horse to build his topline without supporting the weight of a rider. If you choose to introduce side reins, do so slowly and gradually, encouraging your horse to step forward under himself. If the horse sucks back in resistance to the side reins, he will not be using his body properly, and his topline will not improve.
Enlist the Help of a Trainer
If you are unsure of how to judge when your horse is traveling correctly, enlist the help of an experienced trainer. As you are working your horse to build his topline, it’s important that the horse not go around in an inverted frame, since this will have the opposite effect of what you are looking for. Additionally, many horses may brace or harden when initially asked to work in a proper frame, so having the help of a trainer is an excellent idea.
Take the Process Slowly
Building a topline is a process that needs to be taken very gradually. If your horse is not used to traveling in a frame, then he will not have the musculature to carry himself in a frame for any length of time. Go slowly and give your horse time to adjust and grow strong enough for longer training sessions. Always give your horse time to relax and stretch during training breaks and after training.
Building your horse's topline will help to make him stronger. Remember that in building a topline, the shape of your horse's body changes, so you may need to check his saddle fit numerous times during the process.
Original Source: How to Build Your Horses Topline