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We remove the enslavement of muscles in the girth area (sports massage)

Muscle tightening in the girth area can cause a horse discomfort and, therefore, affect the quality of the horse. I want to tell you how to identify the corresponding problem and solve it.

Your horse never had bad habits under the saddle, was responsive and set to cooperate, but suddenly changed – began to hold your ears and back back when you ask her to go forward? She refuses to gallop, and is it difficult to lift from the right foot? She is not limping, but you see that something is wrong with her? What is going on?

The triangular posterior pectoral muscle is one of three pectoral muscles that help move your horse’s foreleg. I am pointing to the top of the muscle, which spreads out and down toward the ground.

Posterior Pectoral is one of the three pectoral muscles that help move the horse’s front leg. I point to the top of the muscle, which expands and goes down.

Despite the fact that all the above manifestations can be based on various reasons, based on my experience as a sports horse masseur, I can say that the most common of them is enslavement of muscles in the girth. Below I will tell you how to identify and fix this problem using sports massage techniques.


Among the three pectoral muscles, the Posterior Pectoral, which helps to move the front leg, should be distinguished. This flat triangular muscle lies on the ribcage behind the horse’s front leg. It extends from a point on the back of the humerus (large bone of the forelimb below the shoulder) to points along its rib cage and sternum (sternum) in the midline of the abdomen. When this muscle contracts, it pulls the leg back. Other muscles contract to move the limb forward, but the leg cannot swing forward freely if the Posterior Pectoral does not relax to release it.

Simple muscle enslavement is one of the most common causes of a horse’s refusal to work. If enslaved by Posterior Pectoral, it does not allow the legs to move freely. The forward movement becomes blocked. The movement of the corresponding hind limb may also suffer, since the front and back of the horse always move synchronously. At the same time, the horse may show signs of “lack of contact”, object during the saddle or landing in the saddle, or move in short, rushed steps. In extreme cases, the horse may even stand on a candle to resist forward movement. Often, however, the symptoms are not so pronounced.

Since the horse feels uncomfortable with his leg forward, he can:

with difficulty climbing up or down the hills;
reluctantly to gallop from the right foot or to baptize;
hang your legs over an obstacle;
to experience difficulties during overcoming obstacles that force her to reach in front (latitudinal obstacles);
show reluctance when asked for an increase or during pace changes; and
will get tired quickly, because she has to work against enslavement in order to move forward.
If a horse exhibits one or more of these symptoms, it will be easy for you to determine if the Posterior Pectoral is involved. Just do this simple test from every side: stand at the horse’s shoulder and place your palm (flat) on the area behind the elbow. This place is quite sensitive, so keep in mind that the horse may try to leave or even hit or bite, especially if it experiences pain.

If the muscle is relaxed, then this area will feel smooth and soft. If it is enslaved or spasmodic, you will feel a knot – an area resembling a small hot dog, across the muscle (perpendicular to the ground).

We are working on

Muscle can be relaxed with a simple massage technique. Standing at the horse’s shoulder, lay the brush flat on its side, right behind the elbow. Hand should be relaxed. Using soft, moderate pressure with the entire palm or base of the palm, carefully work along the muscle at a distance of about one and a half lengths of the palm. The horse will tell you by laying his ears, trying to leave, or giving another signal if the pressure is too strong. As a rule, the knot softens in just a few minutes. Then the muscle will become soft and supple, and the horse will relax.

To look for tightness or spasms in the posterior pectoral muscle, I stand at the horse’s shoulder and use a flat, relaxed hand to stroke and press down toward the ground. I am feeling for bunched tissue or a soft, small hot-dog-shaped vertical lump.

To find the enslavement and spasm of the Posterior Pectoral, I get up at the horse’s shoulder and with a flat brush I press the area behind my elbow, moving down towards the ground. Under my palm, I feel either soft muscle tissue or a small bundle of muscles that resembles a hot dog.

After the massage, you can do exercises that complete the procedure, activating and lengthening the muscle fibers. For this, it will be especially useful to work on the canter.

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