Amazing the difference one session of physio and the right exercises can make in the OAP equine patient!
As ponies/horses get older the lordotic (dipped) back posture with decreased topline is very common. This is due to several factors including decreased muscle mass with age (happens to us humans too!) so it is harder to maintain and gain muscle size and strength. Probably they have less exercise or less focused/ intense exercise (ie hacking v schooling v competing) than when they were younger meaning less fitness. The altered posture makes it hard to fit a saddle as not a lot of pressure goes through the middle due to less contact area there. And because they are in this position the abdominal muscles become longer and weaker making it harder to correct the altered posture.
Its a chicken and egg situation- did the weak muscles lead to poor posture or did the poor posture lead to weak muscles.... probably both.
Thats why treatment is aimed at reducing spinal stiffness and muscle tightness through manual therapy and exercises ASWELL as increasing abdominal and back muscle activation with exercises and rehabilitation.
To quote Carly's (24 year old pony) owner "her belly looks less fat and more toned now!" (Weight also needs to be managed with the older horse to make sure has enough nutrients without putting on fat).
If you have and older pony or horse (or they have this posture ) book in for a physiotherapy assessment and treatment to help them keep active and stay active in their old age!