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Back movers...born or made?

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  • Back movers...born or made?

    What do you folks think? Born or made?
    And, as a corollary question, if you have a back mover, what must you do (or not do) to maintain it?
    And as a further corollary, if the horse is not so blessed, can you do something to develop it?


  • #2
    Loaded question, but it’s good that you are thinking in this direction. Any judge or breeder will tell you that a “back mover” is they key to success.

    My opinion, that most of the back movers are naturally bred. Yes, you can definitely improve the leg mover to have more swing in the back and with collection and proper training the gaits will become more elastic and fluid.

    However, most people look at the back movers tearing it out in the turn out and think :” I just want to reproduce THAT under the saddle” On contrary, with the leg mover, there is nothing to reproduce under the saddle. Even in free turn out leg moves move with a stiff backs and choppy gaits - then add a rider to that and it’ll usually even more choppier. From nothing, comes nothing

    It also doesn't matter what breed the horse is - natural swing in the back is similar to people who have natural talent for gymnastics or dancing. They just move with a born groove Others have to take years and years of lessons to just get where talented people started.

    ~ signed
    a rider with a natural leg mover. My next horse will be a natural born back mover


    • #3

      It has to do with conformation, but not just conformation. No matter how hard I try, I could never do the ballet move known as a "split." Horses are the same way, they do not all have the same amount of natural flexibility, balance, and coordination.

      The best equine athletes today, are not just back movers either. They are back movers that are also pretty amazing leg movers as well. Things like diagonal advanced placement (DAP) and ambidexterity are also genetic and cannot be trained in.
      "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


      • #4
        I think back movers are bred, and maintaining and improving that ability is what good dressage is all about. Encouraging free forward movement and strengthening and elasticising the horse before even thinking about "collection".

        Leg movers can be improved but will never have that wonderful swing and soft floaty carrying power.
        Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

        Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


        • #5
          Could you explain....
          What is a "back mover?"
          I've never heard that term used before...


          • #6
            I've heard and read about back movers versus leg movers, but a video SHOWING the difference would be much appreciated


            • #7
              Originally posted by Robyn View Post
              I've heard and read about back movers versus leg movers, but a video SHOWING the difference would be much appreciated
              It is mostly a "feel" thing. Although you can usually identify a leg mover. The leg mover flings his front legs around extravagantly, sometimes flipping his toes up in the air with a big reach of stride and lots of articulation of the joints. But these horses are often not using their hindquarters at all or their hindquarters are trailing out behind them. They may have quite a lot of suspension in the trot but it is caused by a horizontal stretching of the frame, not by collection. They often hollow their backs, but they just do not engage their back muscles even if they are not hollow. Since they are not moving through and over their backs, it is very easy for a leg mover's gaits to become impure (lateral or not the right sequence or number of beats) when they are collected.

              A back mover is simply the opposite. The back and the abdominal muscles are engaged and lifted. The reach, articulation and elevation of the back legs matches the front legs and they move the same way. The horse steps well underneath himself with his hind legs and rounds his back under the rider. Hard to see, but you can definitely feel it.
              "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


              • #8
                the ultimate abillity of a horse making use of his back is set by genetic features.
                the maximum extension you enable it to make use if his back within its genetically given limits is set by training.



                • #9
                  Originally posted by fannie mae View Post
                  the ultimate abillity of a horse making use of his back is set by genetic features.
                  the maximum extension you enable it to make use if his back within its genetically given limits is set by training.
                  Very well put, Fannie Mae.
                  "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


                  • #10
                    Back mover - courtesy of his sire!
                    ... _. ._ .._. .._


                    • #11
                      Short of injury I think almost any decently athletic horse can be ridden so that he uses his back. In fact I thought that's what dressage training was all about.


                      • #12
                        Indeed an athletic horse can be taught to use his back, but he will not do it in the same way as a "back mover".
                        ... _. ._ .._. .._


                        • #13
                          I never post here-just lurk But this is a subject near and dear to my heart. Back movers are born to it! Its breeding like to like to produce the best. It's an inherited suspension that cannot be man made.

                          However have improved movement using caveletti at a trot on the lunge line. I am not a fan of rolkur or trapping down as this is a pure movement from the "motor". However i have used a "xando pull" to help develop the back muscles on the lunge over the cavaletti.

                          Important to develop slowly and methodically to prevent over use injury and promote a willing attitude.

                          I have an INCREDIBLE "back mover" here in my stables. Sadly he has a permanent back injury from over use in the rolkur prior to my ownership. But a shear joy to watch him move at liberty!!!! One day with a great dealof work I MAY be able to ride him!
                          "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there"


                          • #14
                            I bought once a filly who I thought was an incredible back mover. I was right ! I raise, start her as usual but the feeling on her was terrible !

                            I am sure everything is easier with such horses.

                            Fighting ovarian cancer ! 2013 huge turnaround as I am winning the battle !..


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Robyn View Post
                              I've heard and read about back movers versus leg movers, but a video SHOWING the difference would be much appreciated
                              There are variations of severity of the leg movers. But all of them simply do not use their backs when they move. They "lock" their backs and tense their back muscles. If you can closely watch only their backs, their backs don't move up/down with every step. It's only their whole body that quite stiffly moves up/down with the locked back.

                              Oh-ah, I guess for educational purposes, I can post some old videos of my mare. She is a leg mover. She is not a back mover at all. She has an amazingly stiff back:
                              1. My leg mover when I bought her, ridden by her previous owner: http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...56980930042007
                              2. My leg mover 2 years latter with me: http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...23054633666750

                              Look at the stiffness of her back that goes directly to the stiffness of her legs and when leg lands on the ground, there is no buoyancy, no springing feeling - it looks like a horse is almost hammering her legs in to the ground. Instead of picking her legs up, then forward, then down - she picks her legs and brings then down right away. Even she got better with dressage training, you still can see that she is NOT a back mover.

                              You need this extra swing in the back to have this extra air time and expressive gaits.


                              • #16
                                I see not a "leg mover" but a horse that's not through her back.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by grayarabpony View Post
                                  I see not a "leg mover" but a horse that's not through her back.
                                  Well that horse in not thru her back even when she is running in the tunt out. That IS the point: she doesn't use her back. She never used her back. She was born with not using her back. She is NOT a back mover (even with out a rider)


                                  • #18
                                    Thank you Dressage Art - when the back muscles are "tensed and locked" they are "on" (contracted). A good "back mover" relaxes the back muscles (and uses more of the psoas and abdominal muscles, closing the hip angle). It amazes me how many times people want to "develop" and "build up" the back muscles when in reality it is usually the opposite - back muscles need to be relaxed - the muscles need to "turn off" for "the ring of muscles" to operate in concert. A great resource is the article "true collection" available at www.equinestudies.org that depicts the ring of muscles and back function. As Dr. Bennett is noted for saying (and many other great horsemen) "axial body (the back) governs limb dynamics."

                                    Understanding the biomechanics, not confusing relaxation and contraction of muscles, and applying this to training can improve any horse regardless of conformation. Obviously, the conformation/bone structure of the horse has something to do with the relative ability to "back move" - but all horses can and should "back move" when educated to use their backs/ring of muscles correctly.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Caecilius View Post
                                      Understanding the biomechanics, not confusing relaxation and contraction of muscles, and applying this to training can improve any horse regardless of conformation. Obviously, the conformation/bone structure of the horse has something to do with the relative ability to "back move" - but all horses can and should "back move" when educated to use their backs/ring of muscles correctly.
                                      Thank you and my feelings also. Any horse depending on how it is trained and ridden can be a back or a leg mover. Certainly some find it easier than others but you can take the most talented horse and make a hollow back leg mover out of it.


                                      • #20
                                        The natural elasticity of a back mover is such a joy to watch at liberty and to train undersaddle. I am glad to hear this being discussed; because I think the understanding of this is being lost. Certainly I have to suspect that, when the back movers are harder to sell than the leg movers
                                        "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.