How Your Horse Breathes in Canter

I had an interesting conversation with someone who was wondering why her horse’s rhythm speeds up when it begins to tire in canter? In this case, her horse hasn’t cantered under saddle in quite a while and loses her wind easily.

When resting, walking, trotting and breathing hard after exercise your horse’s rib-cage expands and contracts to breathe.

During canter and gallop your horse “locks” it’s ribcage and continues to breathe using only its diaphragm, changing its breathing pattern to 1 breath per 1 stride. This is called respiratory-locomotor coupling.

Here’s how it works

As the hind end travels back to push the horse forward, the diaphragm is drawn backwards with it and air is drawn in. As the hind end swings forward the diaphragm is pushed forward and air is pushed out of the lungs.

The harder a horse works the more air it needs to move in and out.

If your horse gets a little winded cantering, and needs more air, it will need to take shorter, faster breaths which will create, shorter, faster strides.

How can you help your horse through fitness challenges like this? A carefully crafted exercise plan can help your horse increase fitness without creating undue stress. Combine this with regular massage and you will optimize your horse’s physical development.

Massage improves exercise recovery, muscle strength and function, enhances relaxation, reduces pain and improves performance.

Regular sessions will improve your horse’s trainability, soundness and longevity.

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