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Discuss How do you Strengthen/Build Muscle on the Neck/Topline? at the Horse Training forum - Horse Forums.

I will be showing a 4 year old 1/2 Arab 1/2 QH gelding in Halter ...
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    Senior Member WisconsinEclipse's Avatar
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    How do you Strengthen/Build Muscle on the Neck/Topline?

    I will be showing a 4 year old 1/2 Arab 1/2 QH gelding in Halter and undersaddle classes this year, but he has a pencil thin neck. Because muscle would help to improve the look and function of it, I would like to do exercises to help the process, but I don't know how to build muscle besides correct riding. (Long and Low, and I'm not sure he's ready to work on that just yet because he only has about 2 months undersaddle.) Help? I have a good picture of his neck, but it's from when he was shown in halter as a yearling. I also heard that the neck is one of the last parts of the horse's body to mature; is that true?

    Picture:


    Thank you for all your help!
    Last edited by WisconsinEclipse; 01-17-2013 at 06:58 AM. Reason: Misspelled word
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    agree, neck on my arabs have been the last to muscle out. There are many good threads here about dressage riding and how to get a horse fit.
    I think a good basic dressage program will help your horses' back to become stronger and hind end to come in. \
    Correct riding is the key. Longing and side reins may help but it shouldn't be the sole training. Hills and low jumps/poles are also helpful.
    If you have access to a aqua treadmill it would be great but I would make sure there is basic fitness. I know an arab that did that right before nationals.
    I know a lot of arab trainers and they tend to longe a ton but that is not teaching the horse to carry and use different muscles.
    I don't show halter so make sure you will still get the halter look you desire (unless of corse you are showing sport horse in hand, then they all tend to do dressage and hunter jumper for preparations).
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    Senior Member WisconsinEclipse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BayMare1 View Post
    agree, neck on my arabs have been the last to muscle out. There are many good threads here about dressage riding and how to get a horse fit.
    I think a good basic dressage program will help your horses' back to become stronger and hind end to come in. \
    Correct riding is the key. Longing and side reins may help but it shouldn't be the sole training. Hills and low jumps/poles are also helpful.
    If you have access to a aqua treadmill it would be great but I would make sure there is basic fitness. I know an arab that did that right before nationals.
    I know a lot of arab trainers and they tend to longe a ton but that is not teaching the horse to carry and use different muscles.
    I don't show halter so make sure you will still get the halter look you desire (unless of corse you are showing sport horse in hand, then they all tend to do dressage and hunter jumper for preparations).
    Thank you for all the help! I have started working on the long and low thing as well as connection (They're kind of the same thing, aren't they?), but it's going to take awhile, especially since he's only been under saddle for 2ish months. I used to longe him before every ride just to get the baby friskies out, but know we only do it every once in a while for him to have fun, because he loves it. (We do free lunging, not on a longe line.) I am mainly just looking for a lttle more muscle in the neck, because he looks pretty funky when the rest of him is more of a mix between Arab and QH and his neck is very Araby, and even thin for an Arab. Hopefully, his neck will grow to match!
    The proud free-leaser of an amazing horse:
    Thee Dia DePaz, aka Zsa a 1/2 Arabian 1/2 Belgian 6 year old mare, my horse!
    "There is no secret as close as that between horse and rider."

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    I completely agree about the necks on Arabs being last to fill out! Ayah has looked so awful for so long I was beginning to think bad things lol but in the last few months (she's 2.5 now) it's really started to look more proportioned to her body.

    Lunging with side reins - properly - can help a lot with neck and back muscling as well as balance. Again I say - PROPERLY
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    "necks on Arabs the last to fill out" - nothing like generalizing, eh?

    Any horse with a neck like the one in the OP is often going to have that as one of the last things to fill out. But there are PLENTY of Arabs built more sporthorse-like whose necks fill out in the same progression as a WB or sturdily built TB.

    how long have you shown him in Halter? The stance used in the OP, which gets practiced to some degree at home, is 100% counterproductive to developing a good riding neck, so that starts you behind the 8-ball.

    What does he look like now? What's his breeding? He might be a lean horse who's never going to have a "nice" neck, though you can make it as nice as it can be, genetically.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MzCarol View Post
    I completely agree about the necks on Arabs being last to fill out! Ayah has looked so awful for so long I was beginning to think bad things lol but in the last few months (she's 2.5 now) it's really started to look more proportioned to her body.

    Lunging with side reins - properly - can help a lot with neck and back muscling as well as balance. Again I say - PROPERLY
    Okay, thanks! I will talk to my trainer about lunging with side reins, and maybe adding ground poles as he progresses. He looks a little better now, but his neck still looks a little out of place.
    The proud free-leaser of an amazing horse:
    Thee Dia DePaz, aka Zsa a 1/2 Arabian 1/2 Belgian 6 year old mare, my horse!
    "There is no secret as close as that between horse and rider."

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    Senior Member WisconsinEclipse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBandRio View Post
    "necks on Arabs the last to fill out" - nothing like generalizing, eh?

    Any horse with a neck like the one in the OP is often going to have that as one of the last things to fill out. But there are PLENTY of Arabs built more sporthorse-like whose necks fill out in the same progression as a WB or sturdily built TB.

    how long have you shown him in Halter? The stance used in the OP, which gets practiced to some degree at home, is 100% counterproductive to developing a good riding neck, so that starts you behind the 8-ball.

    What does he look like now? What's his breeding? He might be a lean horse who's never going to have a "nice" neck, though you can make it as nice as it can be, genetically.
    Yeah, people often generalize; Willie's sire and most of his siblings have AMAZING necks; his is okay, but not perfect. He hasn't been shown since his first and last show as a yearling, which he won. I am training him for riding and showmanship, so I was planning on starting him back in halter classes also. We worked with him on halter the other day, and he still remembers his halter training, he just needs time, so each time I work him, I'll set him up once or twice, but we don't want to ruin or bore him, so no more than that.

    His pedigree:
    http://www.allbreedpedigree.com/will+he+b+dun
    His sire:

    His dam (Sorry, it's the only one I can find of her neck):

    Recent picture(s) of him:

    Last edited by WisconsinEclipse; 01-20-2013 at 08:19 AM.
    The proud free-leaser of an amazing horse:
    Thee Dia DePaz, aka Zsa a 1/2 Arabian 1/2 Belgian 6 year old mare, my horse!
    "There is no secret as close as that between horse and rider."

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    Senior Member WisconsinEclipse's Avatar
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    Bump, bump!
    The proud free-leaser of an amazing horse:
    Thee Dia DePaz, aka Zsa a 1/2 Arabian 1/2 Belgian 6 year old mare, my horse!
    "There is no secret as close as that between horse and rider."

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    Riding, lunging in side reins, bitting, long lining...Those are pretty much your options here. You can throw in a day of free lunging at a canter/gallop and backing in hand (well, backing in hand is good any time, lol) to really encourage him to STRETCH those muscles out, too. I like to give them a day each week to really let them stretch it out and not collect the muscles as they do the other days, but while still moving actively. I like the canter/gallop as it does help the stamina, also.

    You just need to be really consistent in the work, but still allow him breaks so he doesn't get too body sore. It will take time I'm currently on a break with my mare. She was working fantastically, but as her first show of 2013 is two months away, I wanted to give her a couple weeks off now to relax. When she goes back to work, it's going to be harder and more intensive up to the show. Time to give her muscles and mind a little break while the weather isn't so great anyway THEN, back to building her topline and stamina up!
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    ^^^^^Wow, that sounds like a commercial!

    OP, remember horses really go through some "funky" stages as they grow, but there can be some improvement with the various exercises already suggested. However, back when we were showing, I noticed that youngsters who seem to have the best correct conformation and movement for their age were the ones that were turned out on pasture and allowed to learn how to be a horse and could run and play with the herd. We did this with DD's futurity filly even before she was weaned---Mom went to the shows too, but at home they were out with the herd where she could run and play, exercising as Mother Nature intended. The filly as a weanling was reserved grand champion in the region and top 10 nationally, so that sure worked for us.
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