Muscle Assessment

Watch the muscle assessment video and work through your horse’s muscles and use the following prompts to help you assess your horse. 

Areas To Assess

1. Complete the muscle reactivity test

  • Push just behind each shoulder and note the reaction.
  • Do the flick tests in front and behind the tuber coxae and assess the reactivity. 

2. Palpate

Using palpation techniques feel through all your horse’s muscles: Start behind the ears, feel the poll area, note is it soft or hard?

  • Work down the neck, see if you can feel the borders of the splenius, brachiocephalicus and sternocephalicus. Does one muscle feel harder or softer? If you are not sure about the actual muscles, divide the neck into top, middle and bottom and use that as your guide.  
  • Stand back and look at your horse’s shoulder from the side, are there any lines of tension visible?
  • Feel down the front of the shoulder. Does that area feel tight or quite loose?
  • Feel over the shoulder noting the areas that feel tight or loose, or maybe they feel in the middle (which is good :))
  • Then feel in between the front legs and feel the pectorals, noting what you feel as you go. 
  • Move your hands around the front of the legs, towards the top where there is still good muscle bulk and feel for any tension on the inside and outside of the legs.
  • Feel along your horse’s back.  How does the back muscle feel? Is it squidgy, is it like a board? You would like the muscle to yield a little under your fingers but not too much.
  • If you press firmly on the back, does your horse react? Does the muscle vibrate into a spasm?
  • Moving towards the hindquarters, feel through the quadriceps and gluteal, again noting the texture and firmness of each area. 
  • Stand behind your horse (if it’s safe to do so) and assess the muscles from behind. Is one side more developed than the other? You can do this for the hindquarters and look all the way down, assessing the back, shoulders, and neck.
  • Don’t forget to do both sides. Compare one side with the other. you may find it easier to do all of one side followed by the other or do each section on both sides and then move along the body that way.

You will find a rhythm that works for you after you’ve done it a few times.

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