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Jan 272013
The splenius muscles connect the horse's neck and upper back vertebra to the skull.

If a horse keeps his head carriage low and pulled to the side it could be a tight painful splenius muscle.

What signs and symptoms does a horse exhibit when experiencing splenius cervicis muscle dysfunction?

  • The horse will turn or pull its head and neck to the painful side
  • The horse will resist turning head and neck to the opposite side
  • During rest the horse will keep its head lowered and will stretch the head and neck to try to relieve pain
  • In motion the horse will clearly show head and neck discomfort, often resisting turning the head and neck to the side.

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Jan 262013
The rectus capitis muscles connect the horse's skull to his neck.

Pain in the equine rectus capitis muscles can cause a horse to carry his head lower than normal.

What signs and symptoms does a horse exhibit when experiencing rectus capitis ventralis and rectus capitis lateralis muscle dysfunction?

  • The horse resists turning  head to the opposite side of the affected muscle
  • Excessive stretching of the head and neck
  • Tendency to carry head low both in motion and rest
  • In motion head and neck discomfort is apparent unwilling to flex and bend head in one direction
  • The horse may be head shy, difficult to halter and bridle

Where are the rectus capitis ventralis muscle and rectus capitis lateralis muscles?

The rectus capitis ventralis and rectus capitis lateralis muscles are deep muscles found on each side of the neck. They attach the neck (cervical) vertebrae to the base of the skull.

What movements are attributed to the rectus capitis ventralis and rectus capitis lateralis muscles?

  • It bends the head down toward the chest (flexion)
  • Assists other muscles in turning the head the side (lateral rotation)

Activities that cause rectus capitis ventralis and rectus capitis lateralis muscles pain and symptoms in a horse:

  • A rider who constantly pulls or balances on the reins (horses used for riding lessons)
  • A horse whose discipline requires collection and flexion of the head/neck (dressage, race horses)
  • Sudden change in direction causing a rider to jerk the horses head to one side
  • Carriage horses that carry their heads high. Pressure from the collar will also cause pain and symptoms.
  • Pulling back when tied

How Can Equine Massage Therapy Help With Rectus Capitis Symptoms?

Massage therapy can help with rectus capitis muscle pain and symptoms by releasing a stress point that lies approximately 1/3 of the way down the neck. The muscle is then checked for additional stress and tender points and worked to relieve additional tension. Gentle stretching of the head and the neck encourages the muscles to return to their normal state.

Recommended Horse Anatomy Books

Learn Equine Anatomy

Clinical Anatomy of the Horse will guide you in learning about the anatomy of the horseIf you are someone who wants to understand your horse inside out, this book is for you! Clinical Anatomy Of The Horse  is the most comprehensive visual equine anatomy book on the market. Images are not diagrams, they are pictures taken while examining live horses and photos of autopsies performed immediately after death. The photos are very graphic so viewer be warned. But if the site of a dissected body does not bother you, I highly recommend this book. It will give you a visual map of the anatomy and physiology of your horse

Discover How The Skeleton and Muscles Move When Your Horse Is In Motion

How Your Horse Moves helps you understand how groups of muscles work together for movement.
How Your Horse Moves: A visual guide to improving performance, should be in the library of everyone who rides and takes care of horses. Author Gillian Higgins paints the skeleton and muscles on live horses with amazing precision. The photos allow you to not only see exactly how your horse’s bone structure is put together but also shows how the muscles move as the horse is in motion. Ms. Higgins also provides information about the skeletal bones, easy to understand information about muscle and soft tissue bio-mechanics explanations of movement, a trouble shooting guide and simple but effective stretches for not only your horse but you too! If you are an equine massage therapist, physical therapist, or chiropractor, this book is a must have.

Learn Basic Equine Massage Techniques To Help Your Horse

Learn basic equine massage techniques and the theory behind equine massage
The Basic Principles of Equine Massage/Muscle Therapy is book for those who want to learn to help their horse with basic massage techniques. The first part of the book explains massage theory and equine anatomy in an easy to understand format. The next section of the book is a pictorial of Mike Scott working on a horse. Mike shows which technique to use, placement of hands and gives an idea of how much pressure to apply. The book ends with sections on stretching your horse and proper saddle fitting. Though the book is geared to beginners, professional equine massage therapist will glean knowledge and tips. This is a good book for beginners and a great reference book for the experienced equine bodyworker.

Horse Anatomy Study: Origin, Insertion, Action and Innervation of the Rectus Capitis Lateralis and Rectus Capitis Ventralis Muscle

Rectus Capitis Lateralis

  • Origin: ventral arch of the atlas
  • Insertion:  the styloid process of the occipital bone
  • Action: flexion of the head, lateral rotation of the head
  • Innervation: dorsal branch of C1

Rectus Capitis Ventralis

  • Origin:  The ventral arch of the atlas
  • Insertion:  The basilar process of the occipital bone
  • Action: flexion of the head, lateral rotation of the head
  • Innervation: dorsal branch of C1