Posture and Stance
Your horses reveals quite a bit of information about how they feel, even when they are standing perfectly still. Which legs they load the most, and which leg they rest the most can indicate pain or imbalance.
A tight, sagging or sloping back can indicate muscle tension, atrophy, or injury. Even the position of the pelvis tells a story about function, comfort, and mobility.
Their entire body adapts to internal and external influences. How their muscles, joints, connective tissue, and even organs feel and function will change the way they hold and carry their body. External forces like the ground they're on, the way they are led, worked, and ridden, saddle fit, things that cause them to feel anxious or tense, even the way they eat will shape their physical form.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
A comfortable relaxed, and balanced horse will stand with their weight distributed evenly over all four feet most of the time. Their head and neck will be held in a relaxed neutral position.
Muscles should be visible, relaxed, smooth in appearance, and look "full' vs concave or completely flat. Areas that appear more developed, or less developed, are signs that the body is compensating for restriction or pain and will likely be reflected in the stance and posture.
TRAIN YOUR EYE
Here is your homework assignment. Go online and look at hundreds of horses standing in profile. Notice the differences. Observe which look balanced and comfortable in which look guarded and tense. Take note of variations in muscle composition too. This will help you recognize whether or not your horse's body is healthy and happy, so we know if we need to make changes or intervene in some way. Being able to see signs of imbalance and dysfunction is a valuable and essential skill our horses need us to have.