Exercises to strengthen horses top line and hind end?
I have a TB and his back end is weak, what are some exercises the you use to strengthen your horses back end? Also I would like his top like to be a little more cresty, what are some exercises that you use to do that?
Topline: lots of forward, happy work into the bridle at all gaits and lots of transitions too. Let him carry himself and he'll build the appropriate muscles.
Hindquarters: walk hills - mostly up (but you'll have to come down, and that doesn't hurt either!).
Try not to be in a hurry with either, as it takes time.
Shoulder-in, haunches-in and half-pass will all work the hind end. You must do them both directions because they emphasize one hind leg over the other.
In the beginning do a 10m circle off the track, then ask for three or four steps shoulder-in up the long side, then go right back into another 10m circle.
Gradually work up to half the long side at a time.
You can work up to doing the whole long side, but it is not wise to practice the whole long side over and over again; it loses a little and the horse learns to conserve energy and peter out, rather than doing "POW POW SHOULDER-IN!" break "POW POW" etc.
Correctly done, the shoulder-in and haunches-in are effortless off the seat and leg, with a lightly stabilizing outside rein and just a tickle on the inside rein. You should be able to let go the inside rein for a few steps and maintain the exercise.
Once you have the shoulder-in and haunches-in good, do shoulderin/haunches in entwickeln (entwickeln means "developing"). Basically it throws a legyield into the mix, and further emphasizes the hind leg and the insideleg/outsiderein connection.
This is where you do a few steps of shoulder in, then allow the horse to go straight (his straight, so he is going a diagonal line away from the track) for two or three steps, and then legyield back to the track maintaining shoulder-in.
In the haunches-in, come up the track in haunches-in, then do a legyield off the rail still in haunches in (the entwickeln part), and then allow him to ride straight back to the track (the relief part).
Eventually work the horse up to doing it at all three gaits, although it is wise to limit the haunches-in in the canter because most horses like to do that anyway.
This work will really buff up the heinie, and because it works the hind end sides individually it gives you more feedback on where your horse is strong and where he is weak.
Give the horse periodic stretchy circles when you get to the short sides (ie, stretchy circle) and you will be schooling his neck long and low and counterbalancing all the more uphill work.
Intersperse periods of transitions on a 20m circle.
Extensive use of counter canter when he is ready to develop balance in the canter.
If you do hill work (which is great for the butt) you have to make sure that your horse is using his butt. If he plods up and down on the forehand it does no good for the butt. Lots of transitions are great for hindends also. Start getting the horse to accept the bit and push into contact (such as a dressage horse) from the back to front will help with the top line. Also stomach lifts, on some horses just use your fingers under the belly. If its a horse like mine use a hoof pick.
Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole
You'll know when he starts getting strong when he begins to walk up hills differently (stops using the forehand and instead really bends the joints behind, using power instead of momentum) and you no longer feel the need to adjust your upper body forward while he is walking uphill. Just a neat little sign that all that work in developing the carrying power of his haunches is actually working!
Of course, steep hills require assistance from the forehand, but for long, uphill walks of a mild grade, it's not necessary.
Love the ideas on this thread, thanks for posting OP. I am going to try some of meupatdoes suggestions tonight. I do all those things separately, but I like how the exercises are strung together, and I like the idea of ending the shoulder in with another 10m circle.
To OP, I like long, forward, low work outside the ring too to strengthen topline and hind end, with transitions within the gaits. For example, in a field if available, start with a working trot with the horse on the bit in a nice longish frame, really pushing from behind, transition to springier more collected trot, back to working, to lengthened, etc. Add in some circles periodically too, a stretchy circle is nice because it gives the horse a break. This work can be done on a field with a grade to it as well to get the benefit of hill work too. Like others have said though, start slowly and build up so there is no soreness. A sore horse can't use him/ herself correctly.