The muscles of the horses back disperse the forces of concussion from the horse’s motion. The horse’s foot lands with its heel first, think of it like a landing airplane, then it transfers to the front portion. This appears to be the most efficient function of the loaded foot as it is two phase to assist with the force of concussion and therefore acts as a shock absorber which then transmits the force up through the column of the leg.
The forelimbs forces travel up and backwards terminating at the lumbo-sacral junction just behind the saddle, the hind limbs travel upwards through the gluteal and terminate at the 4th and 5th vertebrae in the neck. This is why the spinal vertebrae alignment and healthy musculature surrounding it is important to enable the vertebrae to cope with the forces put on it.
The horse is not fully mature until 5 years old, it is especially worth bearing in mind that the growth plates along the horses spine do not fuse until this time therefore carrying weight can have a detrimental effect and cause sprains, for instance displacing a vertebral growth plate therefore this is something absolutely worth considering when backing and working a young horse.
Locomotion is a result of generated forces as the hooves push against the ground which determine direction and speed, the harder the push the faster the movement and speed.
When the hooves push against the ground the horses body moves in the opposite direction:
- The hoof pushes down, the body is lifted into suspension.
- The hoof pushes backwards, the body propels forward.
- The hoof pushes to the left, the body moves to the right.
It is worth remembering that the hind limbs are the engine propelling the force forwards to the forehand and the fore limbs turn and adjust the speed very much like a rear wheel drive car.