by Lorrie Bracaloni
Occasionally you'll come across a horse in pain that just seems unexplainable. Caring owners have come to me feeling frustrated that their horse is still "off," after trying every traditional and holistic health option they could think of.
There is always a reason that a horse is sore. Mainly it has to do with how his muscles support his skeletal system. Muscles contract and release. When muscles tighten and cannot achieve a full release, they will remain tense and will shorten over time. This puts strain on the surrounding areas.
Because tightening and spasms are an extension of the normal contraction process, these types of problems do not show up on x-rays or standard testing procedures. The horse's problem can be a muscle misalignment.
Every move the horse makes produces stress upon a specific point. All muscles pull, so all skeletal motion is performed in this manner too. Tight muscles can lead to spasms, knots, muscle misalignment and blocked energy.
When this happens you can start to see:
- Choppy strides
- Loss of impulsion
- Jump refusals
- Back soreness and hollowing
- Resistance to lateral flexion and bending
- Girthing problems o Biting and other "bad behaviors"
- The horse being off and on "for no reason"
- Improper tracking forward, back, or laterally
Covering up minor problems most often ends up creating major ones.
Muscles are arranged in pairs of opposites, and muscles have two functions, to contract and release. In order for a muscle to release it must not have opposition and be able to stretch out. Muscle fibers attach to bone, so when muscles remain in a contracted state and are not released properly, this is where your horse’s pain points come in. When the pain points are released, then the muscles stop pulling on the bones, and the horse's natural balance can return. The pain can cease, and the muscle fibers can return to normal.
Did you know that 60% of your horse's body weight is skeletal muscle? Horses' muscles need oxygen and glucose from ingested food stuff. Oxygen is carried to the muscles by the circulation of blood. Any excess degree of muscle contraction or spasms will interfere with the free flow of oxygen into the muscle tissue and the outflow of toxins, which will have an effect on the horse's performance.
You can check your horse's pain points before you ride him or when you are grooming him. By checking them you can prevent many problems before they develop. As Jack Meagher, Sports Therapist for people and equines alike said, "Remember any injury you can prevent is money in the bank!"
You may find that releasing your horse's pain points:
- Increases athletic performance and stamina
- Improves Muscle Tone
- Improves suppleness and responsiveness
- Enhances mental and emotional well-being
When working on your horse, make sure it is not feeding time, and that he is not agitated or stressed.
There are books you can buy that show you stretches and body exercises to help your horse along and keeping him balanced. Just keep in mind that whatever method you choose to apply to your horse, allow yourself time to practice and be patient. Your will love you for it.
Natural Equine Remedies-www.naturalequineremedies.com
Lorrie Bracaloni is a Certified Equine Holistic Practitioner on horses and humans; Lorrie helps horse owners learn how to keep their horses balanced and happy.