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What is Proprioception

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

It is Body Awareness & Body Position in Relation to the Environment the Horse is in. It is very important for prevention, maintenance, rehabilitation, training, conditioning, recovery, post-surgery, performance enhancement.

This can help your horse become more Balanced, Flexible, Agile & Confident in their ability therefore giving a better performance in whatever discipline you are asking of them.

Young horses that are starting their ridden careers can struggle with Proprioception especially the big horses that are still growing.

Have you heard someone say ‘they are all legs’ or ‘they don’t know where to put their feet’ or ‘they are clumsy’ they are 'rude' this is because they are still learning about how the body moves and becoming aware of its own ability, stability and strength throughout the whole body.

Building Better Proprioception.

There are many ways to help your horse become more aware of its own body.

  • Grooming Some things are as easy as your daily grooming routine with different types of brushes, even using your hand to stroke your horse with long gentle strokes with the flat of your hand, this will provide the horses brain with a map of its own body.

  • Groundwork Is a very effective way of helping your horse become more aware. Working in hand over ground poles that are not all in a straight line but that are left lying randomly, whilst training or even in the field or track system that they are turned out in, this will create a great movement challenge for your horse to solve, helping with their agility and stability. Even building a horse agility course could benefit your horse to become more aware and confident.

Ridden work and Hacking Hacking can be one of the best types of Proprioception training for a horse, navigating uneven ground, up and down hills, through water, opening gates, narrow pathways, etc are all great ways to help your horse learn about its own body and what they are capable of by building your horses confidence in its own ability & awareness.

  • Equine massage Bodywork & Massage can also play a part in Proprioception physically touching and stimulating the body asking for stretches, passive movements of the body and limbs.

  • Using other exercises can be very useful to help with body awareness. Backing up exercises, lateral exercises, turning

  • Equipment that can be used to help – these should be introduced slowly with guidance.

  • Body bands and wraps

  • Balance pads

  • Turnout, Interacting with other horses at play. Random poles or branches in the field or around water tubs or hay feeders. Track systems with different surfaces. Gravel, stones, stepping over obstacles like poles or branches, sand, wood chip etc. all of this can create more proprioception/ body awareness.

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