Key Equine Core Stability Exercises

Between the icy winter weather and on-going lockdowns, many of us are finding it difficult to get our horses out and about. Jayne Faulkner, BSc AdvCertVetPhys MIRVAP MRAMP of JF Vet-Physio has kindly provided a video of 5 top core stability exercises which you can do with your own horses in the comfort of their very own stable. Below is a short description of each to accompany the video to help make it easier and safer to try at home.

Dorso-ventral (or ‘tummy) Lift


The aim here is to see a lift in the horses back in an upwards direction.

This exercise recruits the abdominal & thoracic sling muscles to help improve their posture whilst also encourages a relaxation and stretch along the back muscles. The benefits of this exercise can be even more effective if the horse is eating (on enjoying a lick) on the ground.


Pelvic Extension

The aim here is to see the pelvis extend and look as if it has tilted forwards.

This exercise will extend the lumbo-sacral junction taking the postural tension out of the back muscles. In turn, it will encourage the psoas muscle complex to lengthen helping stretch out this (often very tight) area. This will improve the horse’s suppleness through its pelvis & back as well as its core musculature.

Pelvic Flexion

The aim here is to see the pelvis flex under the horse in a ‘tuck’ like action.

This is essentially the position we aim to achieve with true hind end engagement; it is what allows the trunk to be lifted and the hind legs to step under correctly.

This exercise recruits the psoas muscle complex as well as the abdominals further working on strengthening the core.

A slow, smooth movement is what you are aiming for – not a jerk like reaction. The latter often indicates weakness.

The benefits of this exercise can be even more effective if the horse is eating (on enjoying a lick) on the ground.

Tail Pulls

The aim here is to use the tail as leverage to encourage the horse to resist the pressure by recruiting their core stability musculature.

  • Lateral tail pulls are when the tail is taken to the right and left of the horse to encourage the pelvic and hip stabilising muscles to contract against the pull pressure.

  • Straight tail pull is where the tail is taken straight backwards in line with the horse’s spinal column. The gentle pull & release movement encourages a stretch across the top line whilst also recruiting the thoracic sling, abdominal and pelvic stability muscles.

The benefits of this exercise can be even more effective if the horse is eating (on enjoying a lick) on the ground.

Wither Pulls

The aim here is to use the withers as leverage to draw the horse towards you to encouraging the horse to recruit the thoracic sling and forelimb stability muscles. This should be carried out on both the left and right sides of the horse to ensure the musculature on both sides are worked evenly.

Some helpful pointers include:

  • All the exercises should begin with the horse standing square.

  • Each exercise should be repeated 3 times in succession.

  • Begin with asking only for the exercise motion & gradually build up the length of time each exercise is held for. I try to increase the time by 5 seconds a week to a maximum of 30 seconds hold per exercise repetition.

  • For maximum effect, build these exercises into your daily grooming routine.

  • Some horses do not like these exercises so do take care and ask gently when trying them for the 1st time. Make sure you are in a safe position before attempting them and stop if your horse shows signs of discomfort or serious objection.


Finally… enjoy spending some quality time with your own horses and if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.




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