Tetanic Contractions - The Horse Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 2 Old 07-15-2010, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Utah
Posts: 315
• Horses: 1
Tetanic Contractions

Equine Muscle Lameness
The Unrecognized Injuries
E. Allan Buck 2010 ©
Lameness: Is a departure from the normal gait in animals.
Lameness is most usually associated with injuries to the lower legs and/or hooves. Unfortunately for the horse, this confined diagnosis area actually places the horse at risk for long term extensive muscle injuries located in other regions of the body.
Hyperflexion is excessive and forceful flexion of a limb or other part and results in occurrences of muscle injuries arising in other regions of the body. Usually the region diagonally opposite to the original injury can sustain muscle injury, primarily as a result of over compensation of the original injury.
Improper contraction of muscles is usually the result that occurs when muscles are damaged. A contraction is a drawing together – a shortening or shrinkage. These contractions can be caused by muscle spasms wherein the increased muscular tension and shortness cannot be released voluntarily and prevents lengthening of the muscles involved.
The primary muscle injuries in the working/ridden horse are tetanic contractions which are sustained muscular contractions without intervals of relaxation. When tetanized, the contracting tension in the muscle remains constant in a steady state. This is the maximal contraction and causes rigidity of the muscle system within the region.
Cause and effect of the combination of rider, saddle and bridle used upon a horse has never been studied in a scientific research study. Individual localized studies have been done by independent researchers such as how bits move in the mouth, back pain studies, saddle pressure points, etc., however, a cumulative study has never been accomplished.
Externally induced tetanic contractions are not recognized nor widely discussed or researched in the equine world. Odd situation, as externally induced tetanic contractions alter gait movement, stride length, self carriage, and impulsion, which causes the horse to be unable to perform at its optimum and thus as in the case of dressage horses, actually unable to meet the stipulated descriptions which clarify how the horse shall appear performing the movements.
In the working/ridden horse, the most common area for externally induced tetanic contractions is the lumbar region, followed by the pelvic region, then followed by the shoulder, followed by the neck. Generally you will find that tetanic contractions do occur concurrently in the neck and shoulder area. The pelvic and lumbar regions are affected by different direct forces other than the neck and shoulders, however, tetanic contractions within the neck and shoulder areas do have an indirect impact upon the lumbar and pelvic regions. Externally induced tetanic contractions can exist within one localized region or these contractions can exist in conjunction with another region, such as left or right front diagonally to the right or left rear.
The Back:
In the lumbar region, the area of the loins and point of the hip, the muscles are subject to numerous overstresses caused by the horse not rising the back. The muscles in this region that are directly affected are the thoracolumbar facia, the transverse abdominal muscles, costal retractor muscles, lumbar longissismus muscles, and the middle gluteal muscles.
The pelvic region consists of the sacral region [croup] and the gluteal region [hindquarters]. The muscles in this region that are directly affected are the sacral tuber, gluteal fascia, superfacial gluteal muscles, biceps femoris muscles, and the semitendinosus muscles.
These two regions manifest the gait and length of stride of the hindquarters. These two regions are also the rear component in the suspension bridge muscle support system for the back and torso regions. When even one muscle is affected by tetanic contraction, the entire back and hindquarters are directly affected. The result is more than one muscle will be in tetanic contraction, and this single muscle injury will directly impact surrounding muscle support systems until the entire region is locked down in tetanic contraction.
A prime example of the singular affect can be seen when one does palpate the region of the loin and proceeds to press down upon the longissimus muscle in a particular spot, most often the horse will move downward and away in order to not be affected by the palpation. If one continues the palpation and tries to go deeper, one will be met with rigidity of the longissimus and thoracolumbar facia muscles, and if one is able to work past this rigidity one may find the costal retractor and transverse abdominal muscles may also be affected.
These locations may not be affecting the rest of the hindquarter. However, as a result of these externally induced tetanic compressions, the sacral region will probably be affected. The gluteal region also may or may not be affected and palpation through the region will reveal tetanic compressions.
Externally induced tetanic contractions within the muscle structure of the hindquarters directly affect the length of stride and the gait of the hind legs. Therefore, under any rules governing the health and welfare of the horse, a horse with tetanic contractions that affect length of stride and gait must not be allowed to compete in sanction events.
The Neck/shoulders:
Rider impact upon the forehand of the horse should be of paramount concern to any individual who truly stands for the health and welfare of the horse.
Where the rider places him or herself is a critical piece of the puzzle of constraints and restraints imposed upon the horse. The majority of working/ridden horses have the rider and saddle set forward close to or partially upon the withers of the horse. This places all of the weight of the rider and the saddle upon the forehand of the horse. Such weight is imposed upon the horse to its detriment, due to the fact that the horse carries 60% of its weight on the forehand. Adding the weight of the rider and saddle in the forward position loads the fulcrum in the front and the horse is not balanced. The forward placed saddle has a direct compression impact upon the muscle underlying the saddle and can cause these various muscles to have a externally induced tetanic contraction.
The back muscle structure of the horse is designed as a connector front to rear, a suspension bridge, as well as, the stringer for the muscles of the abdomen and torso. Placing the saddle forward actually impedes the operational function of the thoracic longissismus, the thoracic and cervical, the cranial dorsal serrate, the caudal dorsal serrate, latissimus dorsi muscles, and the thoracic part of trapezius muscles.
The fulcrum point for the horse is approximately at the 12th thoracic vertebrae. Place weight upon the back of the horse and the fulcrum will shift rearward in order to maintain the balance in the forward motion of the horse. The shift is usually rearward to the 17th and/or 18th thoracic vertebrae. Placement of the riders’ spine close to this location will not have a negative affect upon the lumbar vertebrae and thus the kidneys will not be in any danger.

End of Part One

E. Allan Buck
"Ask and allow, do not demand and force"
spirithorse8 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 2 Old 07-15-2010, 05:42 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Utah
Posts: 315
• Horses: 1
Tetanic Contractions Part 2

Part Two

The saddle will thus no longer act as an impediment upon the back muscle structure of the horse, if it is correctly designed and fitted. The thoracic trapezius muscles extend forward over the withers and the saddle should not now have any impact forces upon these muscles.
What impact does the rider impose upon the neck of the horse? Excessive pressures applied to the bit, excessive pressure applied to the bit and bridle when pulling the reins rearward are the direct and proximate cause of tetanic contractions throughout the muscle system of the horse.
The shoulder muscles are independent of the back ‘suspension bridge’ structure; however the shoulders connect to the withers through the deltoid, and the thoracic trapezius muscles. The shoulder muscles are not independent of the neck muscles. The omotransverse, the supraspinous & infraspinous, subclavius muscles, cutaneous muscles of shoulder, and cervical part of trapezius muscle are all directly affected by the riders’ pressures being applied to the face and mouth of the horse.
Over bent and behind the vertical, as well as rolkur directly apply excessive external compression forces upon muscles, nerves and glands directly behind and under the jaws. The tranverse cervical nerves, linguo facial veins, cranial nerve VII, cleidomastoid part of the brachiocephalic muscles, the sternothyroid muscles, depressor muscles of pinna [parotidoauricular], parotid salivary glands, the sternomandibular, cricothyroid, pharyngeal, occipitomandibular, occipitohyoid, thyropharyngeal, cricopharyngeal muscles, sternohyoid & sternothyroid muscles, hyopharyngeal, longus capitis & longus colli muscles are directly affected by the riders’ pressures being applied to the face and mouth of the horse.
In an article addressing founder and RER, found on Equine Alternative Health Supply website, written June 2002, Dr. Melyni Worth states the following: "Within the muscle cell Mg and Ca have antagonistic functions. The Ca ion is released during muscle contraction and binds to the actin-myosin complex ‘locking’ it in the shortened or contracted state. When relaxation of the muscle is required Mg ions are released and ‘knock’ the Ca from the binding site allowing the actin-myosin complex to relax the back to the inactive or non-contracted state. Hence low muscle levels of Mg are associated with tetanic muscle states e.g. muscle spasms or muscle that cannot relax or return to normal state."
Spending hours searching the Internet has revealed that studies have been done reflecting scientific interest in parasitic and disease induced tetanic contractions. What apparently are missing from any scientific study of tetanic contractions are the external causes placed upon the horse by the rider, by the choice of equipment used, and by the schooling/riding methods implemented.
The question must then be raised; how can any individual recognize the physical inducement of tetanic contraction injuries upon the muscle structure of the horse? If there is not information being communicated within the equine industry about externally induced tetanic contractions and the effects upon the horse, how is an individual to acquire such knowledge?
The national and international governing bodies of equine sporting events place the health and welfare of the horse as the primary mission. One must ask; how can this be fully accomplished when the responsible individuals of these organizations do not even know of the injury referred to as externally induced tetanic contraction and the effects upon the horse? If polled, less than 5% of licensed judges and steward would know what an externally induced tetanic contraction injury is. If polled, less than 5% of owners, riders, trainers and clinicians would know what an externally induced tetanic contraction injury is.
A horse is lame when it cannot move with free, loose, supple muscles because certain regions of the muscle structure are in tetanic contraction. Tetanic contraction prevents a horse from moving with its natural gaits and lengths of stride, from moving with a soft and supple back, and from moving with a supple and fully engaged hindquarter.
If the owners, riders, trainers, judges and stewards that are in the equine competitive arenas were palpated in the like manner of the horse [myotherapy palpation] they would quickly realize that they are unknowingly and unwittingly imposing injuries to the muscle structure of the horses.
Externally induced tetanic contraction injuries are usually recognizable even when the injury is new and/or minor. Externally induced tetanic contraction injuries are easily repaired and the process is usually permanent unless the horse re-injures itself in some manner. Currently there are numerous schools, companies, and individuals marketing equine massage, equine ‘myotherapy’, laser therapy, aqua therapy, heat therapy and of course nutritional therapy as solutions for horses displaying abnormal gaits and abnormal behaviors when being ridden. Each of these modalities has some benefits to externally induced tetanic contraction injuries, however, factors such as repetitiveness of session requirement costs, and nutritional supplement costs should be seriously looked at. [myo means muscle]
Marketed equine massage and myotherapy techniques are not completely effective has the principles applied are human in nature and actually do not correctly/completely induce repair within the deep muscles nor along the contracted section of muscle. Research on the Internet has shown that equine massage therapists manipulate the muscles, while equine myotherapists use trigger point modality in conjunction with massage. These therapies do work and are beneficial, just not completely effective.

E. Allan Buck
"Ask and allow, do not demand and force"
spirithorse8 is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome