A study by the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science (2015) found that dynamic mobilization exercises (DMEs) and gymnastic training (GYM) in therapy horses can improve stride quality and increase epaxial muscle size in these horses.
Gymnastic training and mobilization exercises in therapy horses
Horses were were divided into 3 groups (sedentary, DMEs only and DMEs plus Gym exercises) and for the next 3 months were asked to do their specific exercises.
DMEs – 3 cervical flexion exercises, a cervical extension exercise and 3 lateral bending exercises
GYM – These exercises were designed to recruit and strengthen the abdominal muscles and pelvic-stabilizing muscles and included pelvic tilting, backing up (10 steps), walking around tight turns (3 reps. left / right) and stepping over obstacles at walk (40 cm for 10 min.).
Both groups that performed DMEs had significant increases in the size of their multifidius muscle (which would be beneficial in preventing instability of the intervertebral joints and thus protecting against facet joint osteoarthritis). Horses that were asked to do DMEs plus Gym exercises had the biggest increase in stride length.