Barring an actual injury, many problems riders encounter can be the result of a muscle spasm in the horse. By releasing these spasms, the body can be restored to a correct balance (structural integration), tension will be relieved, soreness will resolve, and muscles will be restored to a healthy state. In this series of posts I will cover the most likely culprits that tend to spasm and affect the horses’ performance. Often, by releasing stress points and trigger points, a difficult horse will become sweet and compliant!
A stress point that I often see (especially in thoroughbreds) is on the neck, right behind the atlas (one of the cervical vertebrae). When your horse resists bending to the left, for instance, I will check to see if there is a spasm on the right side of his neck. At times there will be tenderness all the way to the poll. Even at rest, the head can appear to be pulled to one side. If you see your horse in turnout or in his stall stretching his head very low repeatedly, he could be trying to relieve the discomfort of tight muscles (the main culprit has a long name: rectus capitis ventralis). It makes me so happy to watch the horse shake his head and stretch once this knot is released. There is often quite a desire to move forward as well, so watch out!