Tension in these areas generally accompanies tension in the areas listed above.
Horses that are ear shy are often extremely tight through the poll and may have the floppy lower lip as described earlier.
Horses with tension around the poll may be prone to sudden reactive behaviour such as rearing.
Whilst tension in the poll does not necessarily result every time in rearing, every rarer that I have ever worked with has been tight through the poll and upper part of the neck.
The horse may also trip or stumble since the area C1 and C2 affect movement of the front limb.
If tension has been present for a while volatile outbursts of behaviour may occur as the horse literally loses his head due to impaired blood flow to the brain.
They may appear to be shut down and often have an almond shaped, hard eye The Ears and Poll The neck is a really important part of the horse’s body since it directly affects balance and the ability to move freely from behind.
I find it distressing that so many horses are tied down from such an early age to create an illusion of working in a collected frame as it can cause so many problems for the horse throughout its adult life and inhibits the natural movement of the back and hindquarters.
Chinese Medicine places great emphasis on the health and mobility of the spine for correct organ function and it is certainly my experience that problems with both the neck and back can give rise to a host of unwanted behaviours.
Tension in the neck may be seen in incorrect muscling with over bulking and under development of the appropriate muscles, or over defined cervical vertebrae.
You may notice the mane ‘jumping’ as the horse lowers or raises its head which is another indicator of tight muscles and ligaments.
Changes in the way the mane lies generally corresponds to tension in the neck and the horse may need The Neck www.ListeningToWhispers.com EDIE JANE EATON 3 Nap Find it hard to move forward from the leg Struggle to walk in a straight line Rush Work on the forehand Drop behind or come above the bit when asked for collection • Bite Tension in the shoulders and withers will create balance problems and is usually linked to the tension in the neck and back.
The horse may balance or lean on the handler and the riders’ hands since he finds it hard to work in a balanced frame.
The gait will be uneven and the horse may be cinchy as tension behind the shoulder blade can cause sensitivity in the withers and around the girth area.
Acupuncture points for the Lung and Heart Meridians are present in the wither are and many horses with Lung imbalance and over sensitivity are tight in this area.
They may buckle or lie down when being saddled and have a ten4 EDIE JANE EATON www.ListeningToWhispers.com • • • • • • Horses that are tight in the neck may also: Tension in the neck affects a horse’s ability to learn, changes spatial awareness and can cause problems with depth perception and changes in light.
This can make it hard for horses moving from and into trailers and stables.
Horses that are tight in the neck can be spooky and concerned over bright objects.
They may be worse in the summer when more light is reflected off shiny surfaces such as white boards, cars and water.
Tension in the neck can also cause problems with pulling back when tied since the horse suddenly ‘sees’ the wall and startles even though they may have been standing quietly for a while.
Tension around C3 can cause problems with skin sensitivity and C4 and C5 can give rise to gut disturbances as C5 is linked to the hind gut in Chinese Medicine.
Horses that are pushy or barge when being handled are often tight in the neck and they may find it hard to stand since the neck is so important for balance. osteopathy or appropriate chiropractic work to help release the vertebrae.
Tightness in the neck is often accompanied by a high head carriage, an inclination to hollow the back, or ‘fixing’ through the base of the neck.
To initiate forward movement the horse may first raise its head before moving forward.
It will always affect the horse’s ability to engage behind. dency to be habitually in the Flight/Fight reflex giving rise to spooky and reactive behaviour.
They may be stiff through the whole body and lack impulsion from behind since the shoulders must be free to allow hind limb engagement.
They may be inclined to strike or paw the ground. • • • • • • • • • In addition, the horse is likely to: Trip or stumble Have a short, choppy and/or uneven stride Be spooky Be difficult to rug and/or saddle up Fall in through the shoulder through turns and circles Find it hard to strike off on a particular rein Leave a front limb behind when jumping Struggle to travel and/or load Find it hard to bring the front limb forward for the farrier Back and Hindquarters Horses that are tight in the back find it easier to do things at one extreme or another – either rushing or being sluggish and shut down.
They will find it hard to jump, work in a confined space or struggle through tight turns and circles.
Tension in the lumbar area is commonly found in horses that buck.
Sensitivity may also be shown in the flank, barrel and belly and the horse may lose weight easily, or have the appearance of a saggy or bloated belly as a result of weak abdominal muscles.
Tension in the back can arise from a variety of issues.
Saddle fit is vital but tension in the back can exist as a knock on effect from problems with the jaw, neck and feet giving rise to the appearance of poor saddle fit through loss of top line and muscle atrophy in the wither and back.
Rider posture is important since the rider can inadvertently cause uneven muscle development in the back which influences every other part of the horse.
Horses that are tight in the back may jig under saddle, become agoraphobic (not like being turned out), be highly defensive about horses and people approaching from the side or behind, and find it hard to relax.
Tension in the lumbar area will give rise to the ‘jumpers bump’ as changes in the lumbar vertebrae change the sacroiliac joint.
This is accentuated through loss of muscle tone over the hindquarters.
Inability to track up and/or wobbly movement behind can be indicative of tension through the back.
The horse will often be close behind or move with one hind limb working
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