On The Back Of A Horse

Jean-Marie Denoix, DVM, PhD, of the Centre d’Imagerie et de Recherché sur les Affections Locomotrices Equines (CIRALE) is one of the world’s few specialists in equine locomotion. He has been studying the equine back for more than 15 years, collecting countless images and anatomical specimens, and discovering unique ways to help practitioners and horse owners visualize what is going on beneath the skin of our horses.

The Spine in Motion

Denoix explained how the anatomy of the spine accommodates typical horse movement:

  • Flexion and extension are associated with the cranial thoracic area.
  • Rotation and lateral flexion (side to side) are possible in the mid-thoracic area.
  • Flexion and extension are normal in the thoracolumbar junction.
  • The lumbosacral area is very specialized in its flexion and extension movement–rotation and lateral movement do not occur here. There is less movement in the lumbar area.

Denoix took some time out of his schedule of clinical cases and teaching at CIRALE, lecturing around the world, and writing scientific articles and books to relate some of his vast knowledge of the equine spine to readers of The Horse. He wants us all to understand how the equine spine is made, how it moves, and what can go wrong.

This has led me to understand the writing of Philippe Karl in his book Twisted Truths of Modern Dressage a lot more when he talks about Lateral Flexion and Overall bend. Pg 30.

“Anatomical facts prove that overall bend of the whole horse is a figment of the imagination.”

Yes don’t be too quick to make a throw away statement in reply, it needs much more study to see and know that the ilio- spinal muscles are inserted on the external faces of the vertebrae at the base of the neck. Therefore the more the neck is bent, the more the dorsal-lumbar muscle system can stretch on the convex side and shorten on the concave side.

The relatively flexible neck or cervical spine is blue, the spine of the back (thorax) is red and the loin (lumbar) region is green.

the mysteries of the back