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Continuing on from our anatomy of the horses back blog.  I think it is extremely important for riders, coaches, judges and especially therapists and saddle fitters to understand how the horses back moves, because it’s not what we think!

There are four types of movement within the back.

  1. Lateral Flexion -Side to side.  A horse only bends laterally in the back: 1 – 10 degrees, (this is not a lot!).  The feel of lateral flexion for a rider actually comes from the ribs. Most lateral flexion of the back occurs between T9/T10  and T14/T15
  2. Rotation –  Twisting.  There is very little rotation in the back.  The greatest amount of rotation is in walk (or rolling) especially over poles
  3. Flexion –  Rounding of the back.  The horses back flexes less then 4 degrees.  This is most visible in Canter, and most increased by going backwards.   Most flexion of the back occurs between T17/T18 and T18/L1, and the least Flexion occurs between T3 – T9.  The flexion of the horses spine is only 1.1 – 6mm
  4. Extension (Dorso Flexion) – Hollowing of the back.  Luckily less then 4 degrees.  This is most visible in canter.   Most extension of the back is between T14 – T18.   With the least extension (dorso-flexion) between T2 – T9.  The extension of the horses spine is only 0.8 – 3.8mm!

It’s important to take your joints through their full range of movement on occasion.  But where does the movement come from?

Atlanto-Occipital Junction – Flexion & extension  here is approx 85 degrees with lateral flexion approx 44 degrees.  Rotation is approximately 20 degrees.

Cervical Joints –  C1/C2 – Rotation  is108 degrees, lateral flexion 3.9 degrees, and dorso flexion & extension 15 degrees.  C2 – C7 – Rotation is 1 – 2 degrees, lateral flexion – 25 – 45 degrees, and dorso flexion and extension – 20 – 30 degrees

Cervicothoracic Junction –  The lateral flexion here is approx 28 degrees with flexion/extension approx 33 degrees.  The rotation  is approx 1 degree.

Thoracolumbar Joints –  Rotation  here is approx 1 degree with lateral flexion  between 1 – 10 degrees.  Flexion & extension  is less then 4 degrees


More to come shortly….