I have an older mare that I have been working again after time off from an injury. During the injury / recovery, she lost a lot of her topline muscling & it's slowly coming back from being back in work.
I rode yesterday & admittedly, it was quite a workout for her -- lots of lateral work, canter/walk transitions, simple changes -- but I was amazed to see the difference in the roundness of the topline, especially in her hind end! Initially when grooming her, I was thinking, how am I ever going to be able to take you off the property w/ a butt like that? And afterwards, I was like, wow, hope yet!
Anyone ever noticed this? I know if I do a lot of crunches, it temporarily gets my stomach much tighter; but I've never noticed it on a horse! It really surprised me!
If your mare has been retired/out of work, long enough to lose her topline, be careful about overdoing it, bringing her back. I may have misread, but if you have "just" started getting her back into work, it sounds like what you did with her may be too much for her level of fitness. You risk injury (muscle soreness, tying up, pulled tendons) by doing too much, too soon. Usually a horse getting back into work after a long time layoff will start out with lots of walking, a little trotting. Not lots of transitions and lateral work.
Oh no... this has been a long process back to work - not JUST starting... Injury was 1.5 yrs ago and she's in fine shape now. Topline just still isn't where it used to be, but it's getting there! I was just surprised at how "pumped up" she looked after yesterday's ride!
I have seen this after some good, proper work. The "fluffing" of the muscles is largely due to the increased blood flow, which is a good thing. See if that look maintains itself after 4 hours or so - my guess is it will deflate a bit. But yes, I have seen this, and as long as the muscle tone is still pliable, as in, not "bigger" because it's spasming and cramping, then IME it's a good thing.
______________________________ The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET
Yes, as JB said, a good workout stimulates circulation ... not just of blood, but the water retained in the fascia will redistribute more evenly, as well. I'd say this means you have been doing well!
I see the same effect after I massage a horse; in fact, I got some business this spring massaging horses so they would look their best and most muscular for sales pictures! A good workout does the same thing (guess they didn't want to have a sweaty horse for the photo shoot, though!).