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KrazyTBMare

Longeing Pics and Muscle Question!!

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First, its still kind of wet here at my place but Laylas been feeling fresh with the colder weather so I "longed" her today (made her w/t/c on the longe with her halter not really working).

Anyways, I took some videos of it but it takes forever to upload and the editing program always messes up the speed of the video so I just grabbed some stills.

Anyways, she had her hocks done Friday as most of you know and she is already flexing and bending them so much more now. No more short stepping with the RH and she looks like shes prancing.

Now shes seemed to have always gone haunches in, neck/shoulders braced and neck and head to the outside while going right. Since her right hind is the worse of the 2, I always chalked it up to RH issues for her doing this. She will work out of it usually after cantering for a little bit, and it is no where near as severe (the bracing etc) after a while.

When I had the saddle fitter/muscle guy out (see other post on Tack forum) he released a big knot area near my mares chest on the right side. I have def noticed her RF being more free and open since then.

Well watching her tonight got me thinking.. maybe the whole counter bending and all that isnt b/c of the RH (which I always thought it was b/c of her issues) but b/c of a muscle issue up front???

So anyways, while watching the videos back, I see her shake her head and neck while trotting (like when they just rolled and do a big feel good shake) and soon after that she was def moving with less tension to the right.

Heres some pics from the video. You can see the difference from left to right but ALSO the difference from the beginning of going right to the end of tracking right after cantering for a little bit.

I also used an accupressure technique the muscle worker used to free up the knot near her chest, and the same technique my chiro and massage therapist use on me. Theres this big bulging muscle area in front of her scapula below her neck, close to the withers that is SUPER hard. When I leaned into it my fist, she naturally leaned back into me and turned her head around to me and started liking and chewing. I worked the muscle for a few mins and it would release slightly and "let me in" and then tighten back up and push me out. The left side is not like the right. I can get into the muscle and its soft and no where a defined at the right. I tried to take a pic of that too to show.

So anyways after a WORDY explination of whats been going on with her - first - What is this muscle there and what is its main job? Any good tips on how to release it other than what I am doing? Also does all this make any sense as to what I see when longeing her (and riding her). She def is "easier" to bend to the right but she doesnt want to take a true bend to the left. Chiro and muscle worker both agree its b/c shes tighter on the right side and doesnt want to stretch it going left.

Anyways... any thoughts on this would be helpful.

Heres the pics. Not working just dinking around and stretching her legs. These go in order from beginning to end.

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This is not the best pic of her but it pretty much shows the best of how she goes with her neck and shoulder locked and counter bent, etc

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Same here

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After cantering for like 2 min

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Next post will try to show the muscle area...

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Heres 3 pics circling the area that is bulging and hard...

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What do you guys think?

And yes, Holly, THAT is a pond (that is up approx 3-4' from the rain).

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hee hee. no comment on the muscle thingy cause i'm clueless but i had to laugh at the pond comment [Wink]

good luck figuring it out.

though.. okay.. i will say this... fleck seems SOOOO much better now that the massager released a giant knot in his flank area, so.... maybe it's a combo of all of it.

i bought the HoMedics body massager from wal-mart. it's a handheld massager and fleck loves it. i give him a massage...well, try to twice a week. maybe consider that for layla. and are you doing neck stretches.. like carrot stretches??

good luck!...wow, for not saying "anything" i sure am wordy!

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You and me both Holly.

I have the little hand held 3 nub plastic massager thing and I have a chiro and body worker and hopefully next Tuesday I am getting my friends holistic vet who does chiro and accupuncture out to work on her as well. We do carrot stretches and she self adjusts her neck often (will turn it and it pops) and she was really loving me leaning my whole body into my fist that was pushing into this spot. I know I love it when the chiro mashes his finger deep into my huge knots on my scapulas.

I may try a hand held massager and see. This is why I wish horses spoke english!

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I'm not a Vet so I hesitate to comment on these issues, but you may be on to something. A problem in the shoulder (or front end) often manifests itself in the diagonal hind. If your saddle fitter released something that your horse has been compensating for over time she has to re-strengthen or re-stretch body parts that have been either under tension or misaligned. It may be that he over did and pulled something else out of whack. I would keep up with massage and do some 'on the buckle' type trail riding to really get the shoulder swinging and the body relaxed and not concentrate on arena work so much for a while. But as I said I'm not a Vet, just a conditioner. I'm sure you will figure out what's what and your girl will be fine. Listen to your gut.

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I am very curious to see what you find as I had a Tb gelding with almost identical issues. By chance are her front feet uneven? My guy had a much steeper right front than left. The right was actually a good angle, but the left wanted to stay flat. I could feel a major uneveness in his way of going undersaddle and he wanted to move out much more freely with his left front than right front. He too had the muscle bulge on the right shoulder. He was also very stiff in his neck and could hardly bend it to the right. It was always popping when he would bite at flies. His muscle tone was very different from left side to right side also. Please p.m. me if you figure it out. I also had massage/chiro/accupuncture done on him, but we never got to the bottom of it. Good luck!

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Wow akota, are you sure you dont know Layla in person? Yes her RF is her "clubby" foot. It isnt a true club but it is her one that is more upright and grows a ton of heel. Her LF is her "special" foot that likes to get flat and pancaked. When she grazes, she always steps forward with the LF and uses it for balance. But my farrier has worked his rear off getting her feet to be balanced and correct and they are looking so great right now. I will try to get pics soon. We just put her in New Balance shoes up front and a wider steel in the back for more support since her feet are now stronger and bigger and can support these kinds of shoes.

Her RH is the one with the bone spavin and more changes than the left, however, the left stifle joint was the one that was 4 times more inflamed than the right. Hmmm.

lightness - the saddle fitter also does body work (similar to massage) and has done it for over 15 yrs on horses and humans. He def helped her to release a spasm b/c we had gotten on for a few mins to show him how my saddle rides and then he was going to flock it and stated that she was tighter in her right shoulder and thats when he release it. When I got back on, she was def freer moving in the right.

Layla is harder to bend to the left. Well let me say it this way - she is harder to get a TRUE bend and TRUE contact to the left. All the professionals I have seen agree it is due to the fact that she doesnt want to stretch the right side to truly take on an outside contact - HOWEVER - this has been improving greatly since seeing the chiro 4+ weeks ago. I think after she sees the chiro/accupuncturist on Tuesday I will get the massage therapist out and hopefully get to the bottom of this.

[ 02-29-2008, 10:56 AM: Message edited by: KrazyTBMare ]

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Very interesting...

Not really sure what to tell you, you seems to have all the right ideas so far, what with massaging and helping her release it all...I have to do that with the Veganator's neck since that's where she holds all 12 years of her emotional tension...

I don't think I can really offer anymore pearls of wisdom that what your vet and chiro will say, but good luck!

PS: She looks like she feels VERY good in those pictures - lots of improvement!

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ok that bulging is nothing to worry about it shows she is getting fit. i was worried about that too when i was working mt paint mare she had the same thing its her muscles becomeing more visable. but the missager may work too i never tryed that. but over all shes looking nice and when you really start working her you need to increase food intake she may start loosing pounds.

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sierra thanks for the comments but however shes already very fit and this is not a good bulge. Its very tight and sore and she is not bulging like that on the left side. Its the same areas the massage therapist and chiro really have to work on b/c there are knots there. We are working 1st level with some 2nd level movements so we are def already really working. [smile]

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Have the chiro/massage peeps showed you any stretches or massage work that you should be doing at home between visits? Having been to a chiro for a fair amount of work myself, the between-visit maintenance work is very important.

You could also try to use some lintament when you try to rub out that knot. That helps me a ton with my own shoulder tension. I mixed some epsom salts into mine, and I notice more of an effect that just the lintament alone.

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Yes, I pull her leg out in front of her, keeping it low to the ground and she will eventually release the shoulder and leg it stretch. Then I pick up her leg and put my hand above her knee and pull the leg backwards towards the hind legs. I did this last night and would eventually get to where her leg was near the middle of her belly but on the ground and she would stand there by herself for like 30 seconds - kind of like a leg lunge for people position. I also lift her front leg, grab it in a bear hug, and rotate it in a circle, carrot stretches, and I do similar stretches to the hinds as well.

Ill try the Epsom salts and see what happens. Thanks.

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One that I have found that helps tremendously with my colt (who has funny shoulder muscles that pull one leg back, leaving the other forward, and giving him interesting hooves) is the tail pull. I stand behind him, hold his tail, and gently lean my weight against him. He will stretch into it, though I do give him a minute to get situated. I hold it for a minute or so, as long as he will let me.

That stretch seems to have done more to help his shoulder muscles than the shoulder stretches did.

You can also pull the leg forward, rest it on your thigh, and massage the muscle behind the elbow. That one is a bit tricky to do because of the odd position and balance. My colt also protests at me trying to massage his elbow muscles [smile]

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Like some of the others on here, I also can't claim to give you a definitive answer, but I did have a few thoughts to throw out there.

First of all, I found the photos of the difference from left/right and from the beginning of her work to the right vs later to the right to be extremely illustrative. Wow! you did a great job showing us what's going on! Usually in photo's it's hard to tell much, but your series is fantastic.

lightness is absolutely correct that problems in one leg often manifest themselves on the diagonal leg. In this case, I'm not sure how that all fits in, since you said it is the RH and RF that are trouble spots you've identified in your horse.

A couple of thoughts on bending. When bending correctly, both hind legs work hard, but in different ways. The inside hind becomes a major weight bearer, the outside hind has to travel a longer distance. If you get Dressage Today I thought there was some good stuff in there in the Mar 2008 issue in "Ask the Experts."

by Dr. Robert Stodulka, page 75 "the horse's inside hip lowers, which, in turn, makes the horse step farther under his center of gravity with his inside hind leg. As a consequence, the distance between the tuber coxae (point of the hip) and the shoulder blade decreases, and the entire inner side of the horse contracts..... What contracts on one side, has to stretch on the other side..."

Your horse many indeed find it painful to contract an already contracted (cramped) muscle (the one in front of the shoulder blade.)

But here's another thought ....

Look at the first picture you posted of your horse going to the right. The right foreleg is taking a huge amount of weight and force, and torque (twisting.) I wouldn't be surprised to find that the shortness of the right hind that you sometimes see (although it looks pretty well tracked under in this picture,) is a result of the horse ending his stride on the left diagonal quicker than he could in order to get that right fore back on the ground again. The right fore is his "crutch" leg .... the one he leans on to keep from working the other legs as hard ... that includes BOTH hind legs.

Try it. If you lean on your right leg, your left leg doesn't have as much weight on it.

I think it is possible, even likely, that the muscle knot you found is a result of (not the cause) of your horse leaning on that right foreleg. Your horse is overusing that leg, creating an assymetrical and unnatural muscle in that location, and in addition that large muscle is probably often cramped and tired.

Also, that cramped and overbuilt muscle may be, at least in part, some of her hesitation to give you good bend to the left ... the muscles on the right must stretch during left bend, and that big knot probably doesn't like to stretch very much.

With that in mind, I think if you can avoid allowing your horse to lean on the right fore, that over time (probably take months,) you'll find that at least some of your issues concerning left bend will disappear.

As for how this all effects the hocks, or ties into the hocks ... I'm not really sure. It is possible that if her hocks bother her, she looks for relief by leaning on a foreleg and not taking weight on her hind legs. But definitely, I think one issue you have here is a sore, overdeveloped, cramped muscle in front of the scapula, that is the RESULT of a tendency to lean on the right fore.

Anyway, just some food for thought.

By the way, in most of the pictures, I love the way your horse carries herself. Nice horse!!! What is the breeding?

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Rio, that all makes total sense. In regards to diagonal legs, her LEFT stifle joint was the worse of the 2 but her RIGHT hock was the worse. She likes to travel haunches in to the right, which would put her LH more under her, trying to take the weight off the RH. I can correct her, but I like to let her go as she likes so I can see how she really wants to travel and try to pick up on her issues.

And thanks. Shes just a plain ol' OTTB. Her sire is ALomas Ruler.. he won the 79 Preakness. I didnt think her racing career was that great but my lameness vet who knows a bit about TB racing said that since she broke her maiden and won a little bit of money, she was a good little racer. Problably why she has the issues she has now with her hindend though.

[smile]

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I would think you SHOULD correct her crookedness. By allowing her to continue going crooked, she is just going to develop her muscles even more unevenly, leading to more crookedness.

Especially when you get into the lengthenings, the hind end needs to be right in line with the front, or the horse will not have the thrust to lengthen the stride.

You may also want to look into any crookedness you may have, if you haven't already. Since you are the primary rider, your crookedness can have a huge effect on her crookedness. We are all inherantly one-sided and crooked [smile]

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Oh when I ride her I do straighten her out, but what I meant was that I like to longe her with just a halter and let her go as she feels comfortable so I can gauge how everything is working together.

I almost have to ride shoulder in to the right to get her straight and to the left I have to constantly work on keeping her inside leg to outside rein. We totally can do it but I want to make sure theres not something else I can do (massage, chiro, etc) to help out our crooked issues.

And I go to a chiro once a week and also have weekly massages to work out my alignment issues. Sitting in my position all day working on peoples teeth really throws me out. I call my position "praying mantis" due to the fact that I have suction and water sprayer in each hand ready to go!

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after looking at the pics of her on the longe line.. and the built up muscle.. i can almost say that its coming from her compensation foot if her main issue is/was in the right hind.. if the RH has an issue.. the LH and will take more wear and tear and be somewhat "guarded" on the RH..

more wear and tear on the LH will mean getting heavy and dropping down on the RF.. heavy on that landing foot, and your going to see the horses neck be taken to the outside to help keep alittle better balance as to not completely drop their shoulder and cross fire..

theres still some definate kinks(or balance issues) in her if shes taking her head to the outside on the longe. the longe line is the tell see all tell all when it comes to the horses balance issues and shows how the horse would normally carry its self WITHOUT a rider helping/hindering its way of going.

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i am a CESMT.. and also an assistant to two trainers.. i saddle and longe horses all day every day.. and see all their little kinks and issues on the longeline..

its all about the patterns.. if she cant travel straight on her own, how can she when your on her?

she needs to go back to balance and strenghtening exercises on the longeline. DONT let her go around with her head to the outside, it encourages her to lose control of her shoulders and if theres no shoulder control she isnt using her butt and back properly... if it takes side reins or long lines to help correct basic straightness issues.. DO IT..

its absolutely amazing what kind of kinks in the horse being ridden are EASILY solved on the longe line in a couple weeks of good longe work.

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I agree with equilibrium on this one. You can ride her and constantly be correcting her, but she needs to learn to go correctly on her own.

I had an instructor for a while who really drilled that message home for me. My mare was the queen of motorbiking in the canter, on one lead in particular. So I would compensate for that by riding with my weight in my outside stirrup to hold her up. Only I never would release that weight. So my mare was not learning to balance, she was just learning to let me hold her up.

Once I started correcting her and then releasing the correction, and correcting again when needed, she quickly started to balance herself, and the canter became much more even on the left compared to the right.

The balance issue may have started from the uneven hooves, or from a tight muscle, or who knows what, but if it goes on for a while, it starts to affect the whole horse, and then it becomes a bigger issue. Then you start noticing the uneveness.

It seems that working on getting her to go straight without constant reminders from you would go a long way to fixing the problem. It will not be an overnight fix, certainly, but what in life is easy? [smile]

As far as lunging in a halter, I think it can be a great tool to help fix the horse's tendency to be one-sided. I had an instructor who was absolutely amazing for a brief time, and he taught me how to lunge in just a halter with so much more control and influence over the horse than I had ever had with a bridle and side reins. You have to take advantage of the horse's innate ability to balance himself on a smaller circle and use that to fix the movement on a larger circle. Every time the horse gets unbalanced and strung out on the larger circle, he is brought back onto the smaller circle to rebalance, and then he is allowed to slowly go back out onto the bigger circle. When he loses the balance, he is brought back in, just to the point where he regains the balance, and then he is slowly let back out. It also really helps to do this one on the side of a hill (if you have one, which being in FL I doubt you do). The hill really requires the horse to use his abs to balance himself, which is what we want him to do. I have even used a small x-rail instead of the hill because the horse will want to lower the neck and lift the back over the x-rail.

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Oh I do all of that. And like I said, she will balance herself and carry herself correctly after shes worked the knot out of her neck/shoulder area. As you can see in the photos, she starts out counter bending, but after me flexing her and helping her loosen up that area, she was carrying herself correctly.

She used to always go like that to the right and never correct herself. And now she does after like 5 mins. And u/s its way better.

Hopefully the acpuncturist is coming and I can get in with her and see what she says.

I longe over cavaletti as they are already set up in my field and spaced correctly. Ill make them a small jump every once in a while but she readily puts her nose down and streches her back on the longe (and u/s now).

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Does she have issues cantering on the lungeline like cross cantering when going right but not left? My Logan also used to do that as well. His muscleing was always very different from left to right. He was always more muscled on the right than left. He very rarely cross cantered tracking left on the lunge but would almost always do it after a couple laps to the right and had difficulty fixing it. (he would have to lower his head and buck to correct) Undersaddle he was very smooth tracking left and very "bouncy" tracking right although it became much less choppy with balancing exercises and tons of circles.

The grazing pattern greatly affects the feet. By pushing the left front forward (and I bet that foot is also larger), the horse "crushes" the heel from all the weight pressing on it constantly as the horse grazes. (Logan also did this. It drove me crazy!) the right front is pushed back and more weight?pressure is put on the toe, thus allowing for more heel growth and a much shorter toe. Why do they do this? Some say genetics. Some say injury. It is very much unstudied. Some say it is a habit started as a baby who had too long legs and a short neck and becomes a habit. It is a major component of the problem though. I always kept my horses shod and used pads etc., but nothing ever worked. I finally gave in and tried a natural barefoot trimmer and it is amazing how much the feet corrected themselves. (I'll never go back to shoes) They were never "matching" but he became noticeably more balanced over time. However, I don't have much money to spend, so deeper investigation was not an option. It's a ashame because he was incredibly talented. I found out also that he had OCD's in his stifles as a baby after the fact. Maybe that had something to do with it, I don't know. Hope all works out on your mare! I'll post pics of my boy later.

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more thoughts...

Without seeing the mare, I would guess it is the grazing posture that started the issue. Layla has very long legs, but an average neck, so she has to split the front legs a bit more than "normal" to reach the ground. Especially here in FL where the grass is generally so danged short, its even more of an issue.

She probably started to favor one position, since we are all one-sided by nature. So one side got even more loose, and the other tighter. When she was put to work, she was likely allowed to go crooked (probably before Shantel bought her). SO the problem becomes more ingrained in her. Then Shantel buys her and works with her for a while, and probably does not notice the crookedness, or is focused on other issues. I really think that the crookedness is going to show up more at 1st/2nd level work than it would have at training, because more is asked of the horse.

Many horse owners are not well-educated in hoof form/function. We rely very heavily on our farriers, and we often find out the hard way that not all of them are worth what we pay them. So most likely the hoof differences were not caught and addressed early on.

By the time Layla has reached a point in her training that the crookedness is an issue, it has really set in. She compensates in small ways for the tight/flexible sides. So the muscles in the back will start to develop differently, sometimes causing soreness. She may carry more weight on one hind leg than the other, contributing to joint problems. All of this is minor, but because Shantel pays a lot of attention to her mare, she has noticed that things are NQR. It is VERY likely that Layla has been going slightly crooked since she was a young horse. But now that she is being asked for more difficult work, and work that requires her to be straight, she is finding it harder. So the crookedness becomes more apparent.

I think that these types of issues are difficult to fix, because you have to change the whole way the horse is used to moving and balancing. But you have to be able to correct her without holding her into a correct balance. That is much easier said than done. It also takes a VERY long time. You not only have to overcome the muscle memory, but you also have to teach the horse a whole new way to balance.

Fixing the feet would be the first step. They will never look identical, but they should be balanced and have similar angles. Then you have to fight the muscle tension. Magnesium supplementation can help if the horse is tense overall. Otherwise, massage, stretching, chiro, and acupuncture may help. I would also use lintament if the horse will tolerate it, as the heat can help loosen the muscles. You can even use the cool green jelly kind under a blanket or saddle (it is safe to use for wrapping). I had a lot of luck with using lintament to help my mare learn to relax her neck and back. I would rub it in before taking up, and then stretch the neck, and then lunge before riding.

Shantel is very observant and really takes care of her horse, which is why she has noticed that something is not quite right. I'm sure she can fix it, but it really will not be an overnight fix. It takes a very long time to retrain the body's balance.

And of course, I could be wrong. That just seems to be a likely explaination to me, especially considering the different hoof shapes.

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Pretty much the same train of thought I was having as well. I finally have her feet sorted out. They look awesome now. We also have her in a bigger shoe (size wise and its broader for more support) which has really been helping.

Thursday the acupuncturist/chiro vet is coming so she will get that treatment as well.

I also bought some DMSO and Arnica gel to rub on the muscles to see if that helps.

I have a lesson tomorrow. My husband should be off so I can have some video/photos to compare with.

Thanks guys!

And thanks Shiloh for the compliments! [smile]

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