Tag Archives: hyoid

My Hyoid Mystery

I went to work on a Thoroughbred who is competing at the 2 star level in eventing. I ran my hands over his body to get to know him. When I got to the area where I feel for the hyoid bone, I felt nothing, no matter how much I probed with my fingers.

The hyoid is a series of bony structures that supports the tongue, larynx, neck, sternum, and the pharynx. Where did his go??

This horse carried a lot of tension all over his body. Even his tongue seemed to bother him. This gave me a clue, that while it appeared he didn’t have a hyoid bone, the overall tension in his head, was pulling the hyoid up into his skull, out of my reach. Tension of the soft tissue surrounding the hyoid can affect breathing, swallowing, and even vocalizing. If your horse sounds hoarse (!), an adjustment of the hyoid may be called for. It took several adjustments from a wonderful chiropractor, and quite a few massages, but this horse now has a supple and easily manipulated hyoid, and is a beautiful specimen of health and fitness. He does love to get his tongue scratched, but it is merely a sensual delight, and not stress, that is motivating him!

Can a Horse’s Anatomy Be Changed With Training?

So often I work on horses that have been tugged into a frame that their bodies were never meant to form. Signs of a horse that has been ridden in opposition to its’ natural anatomy are:

– a “broken neckline” : it takes time to develop a lovely topline. When rushed or forced, there will often be a dip in front of the withers.

– a hollow back: Carrying power will not develop when an artificial frame is enforced.

– toe flicking when asked to extend the trot: to compensate for pain and weakness, a horse will try to do the extension that is asked of him by throwing his legs out in front.

– a hyoid bone that has “disappeared” in a tight throatlatch

– Poor development of the neck muscles

– Pain in the zygotic nerve from bit pressure: a light and supple connection usually will leave a horse comfortable in the area from mouth to cheekbone (masseter).

Sports can provide relief from the pain of all of the above, but as I keep repeating: Prevention is the best medicine!



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