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  1. #1
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    Default The Topline

    So, a while back I asked what improvement in musculature would result as a horse learned more and more to collect, and someone said "the topline". I didn't at that time, but am asking now, what exactly that means. What muscles will grow larger? Where should I be looking to see results?
    Last edited by altjaeger; May. 24, 2012 at 02:37 PM.
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  2. #2
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    No one has anything?
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  3. #3
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    I think most people are talking about the muscles at the top of the neck. I like to think of the topline as the top of the whole horse, from poll to dock. All of those muscles get developed as the horse becomes "gymnasticized."
    Quote Originally Posted by Linny View Post
    Those martingales were so taut, you could play Ode to Joy on them with a comb



  4. #4
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    Silly Horse has hit the proverbial nail on the head. If you look at upper level horses they will (hopefully!) show noticeable development of the muscles through the back as well as the neck muscles.
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........



  5. #5
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    Will a horse get a flatter back, IOW will the back lift? I'm asking that specifically because I've had my horse a year and have ridden a lot more than he was ridden before he sold (probably a pretty common situation), and it seems his back is straighter now. I wish I'd taken pictures when I got him!
    Last edited by altjaeger; May. 25, 2012 at 01:08 PM. Reason: be = the
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  6. #6
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    yes, I can see what you are describing. As the horse pushes from behind, rounds and lifts, you will get muscle development from the shoulder back (see this picture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ba...rseLabeled.gif)
    and when you do, the back is likely to appear flatter; when the horse is not fit or those muscles not developed, the horse will appear to have more of a dip wither to hip. This is obviously relative, as some breeds are generally flatter backed than others to begin with...

    Edited to add: the back lifts in motion when the horse is developed correctly. when the horse is stationary, it is the increased bulk of the muscle that makes the back seem "flatter".
    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........



  7. #7
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    Horse care has before and after of quite a few horses from no work to performance horse.

    It shows quite a difference.

    If you do not see anything in 3-6 months then the training is not asking that group of muscle to work.
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  8. #8
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    Default

    Not to nit pick, but a fully gymnastised horse will build all his muscles-everything from underline (abs) to topline.



  9. #9
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    My TB looked very much the OTTB/eventer when I got him.

    Since, he has developed neck muscle so it appears to come out of his withers instead of a couple inches down his shoulders. (That's an exaggeration, but the general idea.) His neck was naturally very flat, and now has an arch to it from muscle development, with more muscle development toward the withers than the ears, and smooth development overall.

    His withers no longer look prominent as they did, both from the neck and muscling along the rest of his topline. Yes, his back looks flatter. He has developed much more muscle in his loin area (which was weak), and his haunches are far more rounded now when they used to slope off at the angle of his hips. From above looking down on his haunches they used to be more triangular with a point at his tail, but are now more rectangular and filled out with muscle.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  10. #10
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    Default

    It's correct that the muscles along the top of the horse fill out and strengthen, but the muscles in what is known as the "thoracic sling" are equally important to dressage work. These are the muscles that are responsible for contacting the abdomen to raise the back, as well as the muscles between the front legs that lift the withers. Dressage horses should also have increased development in the sides of the shoulder and the loin and stifle area as well as the hamstring. All of these should develop in a balanced manner for the health of the horse. If you've ever gotten shin splints, you know the importance of strengthening opposing muscles groups!



  11. #11
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    some horses like mine need a wider tree once they build the topline. Also the base of the neck, croup and crest should fill in with muscle.

    Agree that all muscle development should improve but the topline seems to be the most noticeable.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by SendenHorse View Post
    some horses like mine need a wider tree once they build the topline. Also the base of the neck, croup and crest should fill in with muscle.

    Agree that all muscle development should improve but the topline seems to be the most noticeable.
    This is true, as the topline generally "softens" with the increased muscling. And many people have to up the tree size or take out a pad (I just had to do this with my developing greenie!) Overall the horse will look rounder and taller, as the withers will be higher. But be careful to achieve the "round" look through training and not food! A sweet but misguided teenager at my barn was remarking at how much "muscle" her horse had put on. I had to burst her bubble when I told her that I wasn't sure the haybale her horse was pregnant with had much to do with muscle



  13. #13
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    Default

    The overall shape looks smoothed over but firm.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
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  14. #14
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    This is a little over 1 year ago, and last weekend. In the one 1 year ago he was worked up over some cattle outside the round pen, so he has more tension from that, but you can see the overall smoothing of his body as he's built up muscle. His legs actually look shorter because there's more muscle extending down into them, his neck looks longer beacuse the bottom of it has decreased in size and it has built muscle where it ties in to the withers and though it looks somewhat inverted here because of his head position looking out into the distance, it does look arched when he's just standing around.

    What has been most interesting to me in my horse is noticing the change in his hind end. He has built up supporting strength around his SI area, and his hip is now more easily able to "hinge" - changing the angle of his hip depending on how he stands. Here, he had just backed up a step and his legs are splayed from it, but he stopped with his back end a bit tucked. He doesn't always stand like that (which to me would indicate discomfort) but easily can when shifting weight and moving - a sign that the collected work bringing his back end under him has helped allow rather than hinder that like can happen with many horses. That tucking also makes him look heavier in the second picture, though his overall body score now would be very minimally heavier than it was, rather than the appearance of hay belly since he's not engaging his abs at the time.

    http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6081/6...25bb556c7d.jpg

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7092/7...5994481014.jpg
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by netg View Post
    This is a little over 1 year ago, and last weekend. In the one 1 year ago he was worked up over some cattle outside the round pen, so he has more tension from that, but you can see the overall smoothing of his body as he's built up muscle. His legs actually look shorter because there's more muscle extending down into them, his neck looks longer beacuse the bottom of it has decreased in size and it has built muscle where it ties in to the withers and though it looks somewhat inverted here because of his head position looking out into the distance, it does look arched when he's just standing around.

    What has been most interesting to me in my horse is noticing the change in his hind end. He has built up supporting strength around his SI area, and his hip is now more easily able to "hinge" - changing the angle of his hip depending on how he stands. Here, he had just backed up a step and his legs are splayed from it, but he stopped with his back end a bit tucked. He doesn't always stand like that (which to me would indicate discomfort) but easily can when shifting weight and moving - a sign that the collected work bringing his back end under him has helped allow rather than hinder that like can happen with many horses. That tucking also makes him look heavier in the second picture, though his overall body score now would be very minimally heavier than it was, rather than the appearance of hay belly since he's not engaging his abs at the time.

    http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6081/6...25bb556c7d.jpg

    http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7092/7...5994481014.jpg
    What a change! Nice job! This is exactly how it should work. You have the skeleton of the horse, and you can change and mold what goes on top with training.



  16. #16
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    Default

    Now see, I can't see what difference you are talking about! To my uneducated eyes, his neck looks thick from withers to chest in the first photo, he seems to have more muscle on the side of his shoulders, and his waistline is smaller (as if he were a young horse). Am I not correct in these things?
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  17. #17
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    I agree that just fat really does make people think the horse is fitter these days LOL

    ESPECIALLY the TB's people will fatten them up and be like TADA! Rolly polly on tiny little legs LOL


    My mares girth size has stayed but her gullet hasnt needed as much padding so I think that is a good sign

    Here is December last year

    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...type=3&theater

    I just took this this morning

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php...type=1&theater
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by altjaeger View Post
    Now see, I can't see what difference you are talking about! To my uneducated eyes, his neck looks thick from withers to chest in the first photo, he seems to have more muscle on the side of his shoulders, and his waistline is smaller (as if he were a young horse). Am I not correct in these things?
    He has more muscle everywhere now - but has developed considerably more in his chest since the "before" so it makes a difference. His "waistline" only changed across his croup, really, where he has quite a bit of new muscle, but his stance in the recent photo has his hind end under him more which makes it appear that he's wider there.

    He's actually 10 now, but dressage is his third career, so he's about where I'd expect a horse to be after about two years under saddle if taken straight into dressage from the start. He has just had a big change in his movement where he's more elastic and softer which carries over to when he's moving at liberty as well, and it comes from the strengthening/building of the muscles to which beckzert was referring. I expect significantly more muscular development along his topline in the near future as he is starting to really reach under himself and collect to the point where I can feel his hind legs start to get tired from carrying and won't work on collection daily so there is time to heal. We're in a circle right now where the collected work helps the lateral work, and the lateral work is helping the collected work. I'm tending to alternate them and throw in relaxed, stretchy and very forward rides, to ensure he doesn't get too sore and keeps his relaxation and swinginess.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  19. #19
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    This thread made me go back and take a look at some photos of my boy. The first photo is from 2009, when he was 5, showing training level. The second photo is from summer 2011 when he was just moving up to second level. I need to take a new one and compare that, as well!


    http://s26.photobucket.com/albums/c1...nt=APR2009.jpg

    http://s26.photobucket.com/albums/c1...nt=AUG2011.jpg



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by altjaeger View Post
    So, a while back I asked what improvement in musculature would result as a horse learned more and more to collect, and someone said "the topline". I didn't at that time, but am asking now, what exactly that means. What muscles will grow larger? Where should I be looking to see results?
    Check out this, I think it gives nice examples. I think the muscles at the base of the neck (as illustrated) are an excellent index of the development of the topline>
    http://www.equisearch.com/horses_rid...sage/dt091103/



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