Good morning all! It's Muscle Monday again (I was really bad about posting last week, again I'm sorry! ). We are going to continue a little bit with the Spinalis muscle and some asymmetry it can cause. This is brought to you from an article on thehorsesback.com by Jane on THB.
The Inverted Posture and Asymmetry:
Of course, saddle fit is not the only cause of an inverted posture. However, any horse that holds its head and neck high for natural or unnatural reasons is more vulnerable to saddle fit issues, thus starting a cascade effect of problems.
Are there further effects of this hypertrophy? Consider the connections.
- When saddles are too tight, they’re often tighter on one side than the other. This can be due to existing asymmetry in the horse, such as uneven shoulders, uneven hindquarters, scoliosis, etc.
- On the side with greater restriction, the muscle becomes more more hypertrophic.
- With its attachment to the spinous processes of the lower cervical vertebrae, there is an unequal muscular tension affecting the spine.
- Without inherent stability, the neck and head are constantly being pulled more to one side than the other, with the lower curve of the spine also affected.
- Base of neck asymmetry affects the rest of the spine in both directions and compromises the horses ability to work with straightness or elevation.
- There is also asymmetric loading into the forefeet.
- We haven’t even started looking at neurological effects…
This isn’t speculation. I have seen this pattern in horses I’ve worked on, many times over.
So, How Do We Help?
In working with saddle fit problems, the saddle refit may be enough to help the horse, if the riding is appropriate to restoring correct carriage and movement. Obviously, the horse’s musculoskeletal system is complex and no muscle can be considered in isolation. As other muscles are addressed through therapeutic training approaches, with correct lateral and vertical flexion achieved, Spinalis will be lengthened along with the surrounding musculature.
I hold with a restorative approach:
1. Refit the saddle, preferably with the help of a trained professional,
2. Remedial bodywork, to support recovery from the physical damage,
3. Rest the horse, to enable healing of damaged tissue and lowering of inflammation, and
4. Rehabilitate the horse, through the appropriate correct training that elevates the upper thoracic while improving lateral mobility.
This is particularly important where saddle fit has been a major contributor to the problem. I have frequently found that in these cases, correction will take longer to achieve, as the debilitating effects of poor saddle fit (especially long-standing issues) can long outlast the change to a new, better-fitting saddle. In bodywork terms, the hypertrophic Spinalis cervicis is often the last affected muscle to let go.
It’s as if Spinalis cervicis is the emergency worker who will not leave until everyone else is safe!
Okay, so next week we'll get back into the muscles. Does anyone have any recommendations or a muscle they'd like to know more about? Let me know in the comments below!
Muscle Monday Posts!
I'll post all of the Muscle Monday posts from our Facebook and Instagram here so it's a little easier for you to find if you'd like to learn more about your horse's muscles.
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