Horse's Back - Mechanics - Burden of A Rider

This page basically transcends into somewhat  exaggerated graphs the various frames and deformations of the horse's back when ridden. The campaign level balance shows the balance adjustment of the horse so his back aligns back to his natural position. The rest shows all sorts of deviations and deformation caused mostly by people that failed to understand various publications on riding. If you do not understand what the various colorful outlines represent then explaining them would be also in vain.

A B A1 B1
  • The A shows the horse's frame when not burdened with a rider.
  • The A1 shows the same frame this time with the outlines of changes when the rider is added to the horse. The back concaves and the head goes up, which is pretty much the first reaction of any horse in the first moment of mounting. This is commonly referred to as "flat back", hence the B1 shows the "again rounding of the back", because horses have rounded backs by nature and the weight of the rider flattens the natural curvature of the horse's back (spine), hence flat back in the A1 graph.
  • The B shows the campaign level (collection - frame) of riding balance suitable for most riding horses of today. The B1 shows the same with the outline of the energies and the rounding of the horse's back via the lowering of the hind legs joints, thus the rear ends drops a little and the back levels off to the original position (curvature) as in picture A due to the lowering of the rear joints, which also causes the horse's head to be more erect. This is the concept of horse being rounded up, or rounded back, as the horse rounds his back (goes back up) to the original and natural curve when not carrying the rider, hence balanced and collected.

The level of collection is very much relevant to the output of energy. Horses cannot go for long time in the high level of collection and must be periodically rested, usually taking a break in the so-called "free walk. This will let the horse rest his back as well as his hind legs via the front lever mechanics; hence remember this especially when riding/training dressage horses. Letting the horse rest his back and hind legs during a "free walk" as in "cowboy riding home from work" is only courteous toward the horse and the best reward he can receive for hard work. However one should not run, gallop or trot horses in this way as it is inappropriately done in the Western and English pleasure style riding.



  • The A shows a fairly balanced horse, the back is round due to hind being lowered and set under.
  • The B shows a typical hunched back on forehand riding by most riders who ride the horse's head. This hunched back is perceived by the mediocre riders as some "rounding of the horse's back". The motion of the horse in relevance to the motion of the rider bares a testimony to this ever so popular and very crippled frame of horse when carrying the rider. In short "horrific". This is commonly accompanied by the leaning backwards seat resulting from the horse's camel-like humping motion of the rear.

Three legs off the ground in trot, typical for the "Hunchback" frame.

  • The C shows again a rider that is riding the horse via its head. This time the back is concaved as this rider is obviously trying to keep the horse's head in the campaign level, forgetting completely that the horse also has an ass. Note in B and C the lack of extension of rear legs. The B having the hind legs leaving the ground prematurely, out of sync with the front, while C in the opposite, the hind is too late and out of sync with the front.


This above needs no words, as I am sure you can see this just about in any level of dressage. The rider's seat is thrown back and forth due to the debilitated upward motion of the back. 
 Suitable and very descriptive title for this style would be: 
Humping the Hunchback.

Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek