5 Simple Core Exercises for Dogs and Horses

Updated: Mar 3

How do I strengthen my dog and/or horse's core with 5 simple exercises?


Core strengthening and conditioning is a key part of any dog or horse's life and it is so often overlooked.


Without a strong core, there is nothing holding your pet together, their core is so named because it truly is there centre and if that centre is weak everything else falls apart. Your pets more likely to get injured, show signs of back pain and reduced performance and quality of life.


This is why every pet should have a core conditioning program.


Core exercises are used not only to improve your pets core strength but also to improve your dog and horse's topline. It’s a common misconception that you can improve your pets topline alone but I hate to be the one to tell you, but you can’t. You must improve your dog and/or horse's core strength first.


SO first you need to know how to activate your dog and/or horse's core.


All dog and horse core exercises activate your pet's core so which ones should you choose?


Let's take a look at 5 core exercises you can use in your dogs and horse's to activate and strengthen their core and build their topline and back muscle too!


Dog core exercises

  1. Balance exercises for dogs also known as weight shifting exercises are a great way to activate your dog's core without them even knowing it!

  2. Sit to stand exercises in dogs are something we all teach our dogs but don’t often think about them as core exercises but the truth is they are, plus they also improve you’re dogs hindlimb muscle mass, strength and range of motion too.

  3. Cavaletti exercises for dogs are a great way to improve your dog's core activation as each time your dog lifts a limb the core muscles must activate and engage meaning with each step your dog's core muscles are strengthening.

  4. Slow lead walking with lots of changes in pace and terrain are one of the easiest core activation exercises you can use on your daily walks.

  5. Paw exercises where your dog lifts each limb individually. Just like with dog cavaletti exercises each time your dog lifts a limb they must change their centre of gravity and to do this they have to activate their core muscles.



Horse core exercises

  1. Pole exercises for horses are our go-to when we want to increase core strength and topline and they do a great job but there are other simpler exercises we can use too.

  2. In hand exercises for horse's such as in hand lateral work is a simple and easy way to activate your horse's core without any additional equipment.

  3. Belly lift in horse's are exercises that lift your horse's back by activating their core muscles leading to a stretching of their topline muscles.

  4. Baited stretches for horses alter our horse's centre of gravity and therefore they have no option but to activate their core muscles. And baited stretches are so named because they stretch your horse's topline muscles just remember not to stretch more than 3 times a week.

  5. Working in a long and low posture encourages our horse's to carry themselves and not rely on us as horse riders and owners to help them out. This means that they have to rely on their own core muscle strength.


SO there you have it 5 simple exercises to get you started with your dog and/or horse's core conditioning journey.


Want to see them in action?





If you’re ready to take the next step why not create a full core conditioning program for your dog and horse?


With our core guides and core conditioning webinars you will learn:

  • how to assess your pet's current core strength

  • core exercises

  • learn how to progress from beginner to advanced exercises

  • why you need a core exercise plan

  • how to create a bespoke core exercise plan for your pet

Take the next step here and design a full core program:

For dogs: https://www.fitpetphysio.com/product-page/complete-canine-core-conditioning-program

For Horses: https://www.fitpetphysio.com/product-page/complete-equine-topline-and-core-conditioning-program



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