Horse Trailer Break Down – Part 2; Equine Pilates

Horse Trailer Break Down –


Equine Pilates


“….All this time I was still able to see Classic in my CCTV and he appeared to be none the wiser that anything had happened. As soon as I was off the phone, I got digging around in the car to get my treat pouches and I got in to the trailer with Classic to make sure it was going to stay that way and keep him calm for the, hopefully, short time we would be here.

As I waited patiently for the break down man all I could think was ‘if they think this horse is coming off the trailer to go in to another lorry/trailer on this motorway’. “….

So we were stuck on the motorway and thankfully Classic was very calm. However, I had to consider that he might not stay that way ! He was, after all, in a confined space and not really able to move around. Since horses normally move one foot every 3-5 seconds it might not be long before he started to get fidgety and anxious to move. So I wanted to occupy both his mind and his body as much as I could.

Touch the Target

Touch the Target

What do you do with a horse in a confined space with no option to move them around ??

I’m a clicker trainer and so I have a wealth of things I can do to keep that mind busy AND keep the body moving. So we started out with a bit of ” target=”_blank”>targeting (as I could easily do that as all the phone calls to and from the breakdown services continued) and then we moved on to pilates.

Pilates for horses ??  You’re kidding me !…right ?

I’m not kidding at all ! Classic has been practicing pilates for about 4 years now. We started it off at a clinic with Alexandra Kurland and Classic learned to ‘flex his pecs’.   It was amazing to watch what started out as an incidental movement, which we clicked and reinforced, become a very conscious action. 

During the clinic Alexandra had given everyone a clicker each. We were all to click when we saw the muscles start to contract.   The sound of the multiple clicks was phenomenal, and the horses reacted very positively to this indeed.  At one point Classic turned to his audience as if to say ‘if you thought that was good, watch this !’ and he gave the biggest pec flex he could.   He was positively grinning from ear to ear as he realised he was training his audience to perfection. 

As the clinic went on and then when we got home, we kept up pilates.   It was proving to me to be such a powerful tool as a diagnostic for areas of stiffness AND I can use the same exercise as a physical therapy to help him work through the stiffness.   How wonderful….I can loosen off my horse without pushing and pulling body parts around !

I never did find carrot stretches a particularly fun thing to do, and the horses agreed, but this was just fun from start to finish.  I would lean against the wall and the horses would run through their repertoire of pilates moves.

Breed differences and more

One of the questions I am asked a lot when I show people pilates is ‘what order do I train the muscles in’, and without fail I have those infamous words from Alexandra ring in my ears…..people for opinions and horses for answers. So the answer is, go and ask your horse what order their muscles are activated in.  Both of my horses do pilates, and both approach it very differently.   Their bodies, despite muscolo-skeletally being put together in the same way, are different shapes, they were bred for different ‘jobs’ in life and so the way their bodies work is not the same.

It’s not about the food !

What was even more fascinating about watching the horses respond to this work was that, it very quickly became apparent that this is NOT about the food ! The topic for another blog on another day :-)If you would like to find out more about ‘Equine Pilates’ you can see it in practice and how to train for it on the Microshaping DVD.


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