Tag Archives: triceps

Trouble With a Canter Lead?

Recently I was called to work on a jumper that was having trouble with lead changes.  When I encounter problems with leads, there are a few spots that I check: triceps in the front leg, the illiacus by the pelvis, the glutes. But those places yielded no clues with this gelding.  I did find a lot of tightness in the muscles of his neck, particularly the brachiocephalicus (the blue muscle in the diagram).

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The horse flinched when I started work on this muscle on both sides of his neck and seemed to have a lot of trouble moving his head to either side.  I asked if the horse was having trouble riding turns and circles, and the owner confirmed that corners had been quite problematic of late.

The brachiocephalicus swings the head and neck from side to side, and also pulls the front leg forward, as it also attaches there. You can see what a long muscle it is. Carrot stretches were almost impossible for this horse. He was literally trapped by the spasms in his neck. I used all the tools in my hands: compression, direct pressure, cross fiber friction, and the horse closed his eyes and starting taking deep breaths. There was great improvement in his flexibility. The rider has reported improvement in his performance in every way: turning, jumping, lead changes, and length of stride.  If your horse is having similar problems, don’t overlook the influence of the brachiocephalicus.

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More on Massage

When muscle cells can slide easily past each other, movement is smooth. If certain cells or muscle fibers adhere to each other, a muscle may have difficulty shortening as well as lengthening. Any time muscle fibers get clumped together, the muscle will be prevented from easily lengthening or shortening. A muscle can get stuck in an extended position, a situation I see fairly frequently with the pectoral muscles of a horse, and the triceps. A buckling may occur on shortening: think of a rug getting wrinkled.

Analyzing Problems in the Trot

If the horses head bobs while trotting, the head will go down when the leg in pain hits the ground.

Watching from behind: the hip that looks higher is the side where the problem is, since the hip will come up to relieve pressure.

A hind leg travels inside: There could be hock pain, low back pain, or muscle spasms of the semimembranosus.

Throws hind leg outwards: There could be pain in the stifle or hip, or spasms in the tensor fascia latae.

The front leg travels inside: there could be knee pain, or tight pectoral muscles.

The front leg arcs out: there could be back or shoulder pain, or spasms in the spinatus muscles. (see first diagram)

Short stride in front: spasm in the triceps.

Short stride behind: if it is on one side, there could be a problem with that hip. If both hind legs are short and tight, there could be a problem with the sacroiliac joint, or the muscles surrounding that joint.

Many of the problems described here can be resolved through massage, cold laser, and/or chiropractic treatment.

 

 

Is Your Horse Jumping Flat or Hanging a Leg?

If your horse is taking shorter strides, or looks slightly lame at the extended trot, or is jumping flat with a leg hanging, the first place I check is the triceps muscle. If I find a knot there, usually I can release it with a couple of sessions of stress point therapy.

If the knot is on the lower end of the muscle, you will often see all of the above symptoms, plus a reluctance to pick up the canter on that side. The lower the spasm, the more sessions it will take to release, in my experience. I have worked on quite a few horses with low triceps issues, and in every case, the magic number seemed to be 5. By the fourth treatment, there was marked improvement, and by the fifth treatment, there was total resolution. While I do regular bodywork on those horses, that particular problem has not returned in any of them in the last few years.

If possible, walking up hills is great exercise following a bodywork session for the triceps.

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