There have been several studies looking at the benefits of using hindlimb weights in horses, and we’ve posted about this previously.
At our most recent gait analysis with Mr P, we found that while he was loading all the limbs pretty well symmetrically, he wasn’t pushing off as well with the right forelimb compared to the left. We needed to improve strength of the muscles involved in propulsion of the forelimb while still keeping our speed really slow. If you watched our recent physio assessment you may have seen he struggled a bit more on a stability exercise of the right forelimb.
Coming back to our process of utilising slow heavy resistance while still in the stage of tendon healing, we figured that if weighting the hindlimb increases the muscular effort of the muscles around the hip, perhaps we may get a similar effect in the shoulder/thoracic sling region if we weighted the forelimbs? To our knowledge there hasn’t been any studies investigating the forelimbs, so we weren’t too sure of how it would effect kinematics. If anyone knows of any research please share it with us!
We started initially with 500g weights then progressed up to 750g. We’ve kept the sessions short, starting with just a couple of minutes, progressing up to 5 min max and only staying in walk.
At first we could see that it required a large muscular effort for him, particularly on the right side. We only used them twice a week, mixing it up with other exercises in his program. It didn’t take long for him to start to find it easier, naturally stretching his head forward and low as he walked.
We’ll look forward to measuring the results with our next gait analysis soon.
⚠️ Please note that we do not recommend that you do this on your own horse unless advised by your vet or qualified (and insured!) rehab practitioner.