The Lowdown on Your Horse’s Topline

The horse’s topline has an important role in providing support to the spine and enabling movement. Topline refers to the muscles that run along the spine and covers the complete area from the top of their neck, over their back and loins and into the croup. Topline must not be confused with fat especially on the horse’s neck – muscle here is desirable, but fat isn’t. It is important to take into consideration the horse’s entire body condition when establishing if more topline is required.  

There are a few things you can do as an owner or rider to support your horse’s topline development, but remember there may be an underlying reason your horse can not develop any additional muscle, so consult a vet if you are struggling.

Balanced Diet:

The correct nutrition is an important starting point – your horse can not be expected to build muscle if they aren’t receiving sufficient energy from their forage & feed. It’s important to ensure the diet remains balanced with sufficient vitamins & minerals, and that it suits your horse’s temperament and workload to avoid any unnecessary excitability.

Pole Work:

Using poles, raised poles, cavaletti or small jumps as part of your horse’s work routine can help support the development of muscle. There are so many exercises to choose from, but all will encourage them to engage their core and to lift their back muscles which will support their development.

Hill Work:

Walking up and down hills both in hand and under saddle will encourage your horse to use various muscle groups and engage the hindquarters. Your horse should develop balance and strength each time you do this.

Ground Work:

Lots of movements can be done from the ground without the additional strain from a rider and gives you a great opportunity to see how your horse is looking. Ensuring the horse is stepping under from behind will support their topline development and you can try exercises like rein-back, shoulder in and crossing on a small circle.


Stretching is a low-pressure way of supporting the muscles around the spine. Consider carrot stretches to each side and between their front legs – ask a professional if you’re unsure on how to do these. Incorporate stretching and ‘long-and-low’ work into your schooling and hacking sessions too for additional benefit.


Everyone loves transition, and for good reason! Not only do they help your horse engage in a session mentally, but also support their balance and strength. Remember as well as upward & downward transitions, you can also do transitions within the pace!

Saddle Fit:

It’s important to make sure your saddle is not restricting any movement or muscle development, for example if it is too narrow. Ensure you have your saddle regularly checked so it isn’t hindering their development.


Maximising movement in any way possible is sure to help build muscles, so if you have safe turnout available it may help! Horses are very accurate during turnout and even just wandering around grazing they can cover many miles in a few hours!

General Health & Wellbeing:

It’s important to ensure your horse has no underlying health issues if you want them to develop muscles. Things like worm burdens can also cause your horse to dramatically lose weight, as well as poor dentition. Low level lameness & environmental stresses can also cause them to lose muscle and condition.


With this, some horses could benefit from the additional support provided by PharmaPlast Ultimate Topline. PharmaPlast Ultimate Topline contains every essential Amino Acid, alongside Vitamin E, Selenium, Spirulina and L-Arginine, all in a sugar-free, non-heating formula which supports Topline development and muscle condition, recovery & development, as well as contributing towards healthy hooves and a shiny coat.

Remember to be patient as these changes can take time and effort, and consult a veterinary professional if you are worried about their development.

Learn more about PharmaPlast here.

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Posted on 6th February, 2024.

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