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Hi everyone, so I know this question may seem a bit random, but I’m genuinely dying to find out the real reason behind why some horses have a very obvious line near their flank, some have a very soft line, and others don’t appear to show any line or indentation at all??
Working animal Liver Wood Fawn Dog breed

Arm Human body Gesture Knee Elbow

At first glance, I assumed this line didn’t mean anything, but a few saddle fitters and equine body workers claimed that it was a “tension line” or a stress line so now I don’t know what to believe. I found a picture of the horses muscle system with a similar indentation, so I’m not sure if this is just a part of equine muscle structure?
Automotive tire Jaw Organism Human anatomy Line

Some clarity about all of this would be really appreciated. To summarize, I’m basically looking to find out why these lines form, and if they have any relation to stress (and if so, then what kind of stress exactly: excessive physical work or repeated mental triggers, or something else entirely??) Thank you in advance. Hopefully I didn’t make this sound too confusing.

Bonus question!! I’ve always wanted to know why some horses have more prominent orbits than others? I used to believe it was an age thing but then that got debunked. Does their depth have any correlation to stress or breed? Thanks again for whoever is able to help me answer this!
 

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Ribs go the other direction. Muscles follow rib line. Too far over to be tensor fascia latae. A bit high for internal obliques. Hair line would be my guess.

As to the orbits, there should be a sunken appearance. Accumulated fat is what makes it appear smooth or bulging and that is a sign of metabolic issues.
 

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It's the edge of the cutaneous trunci muscles. When we touch, or a fly lands on them, it triggers a reflex in these muscles which run down the flank in that area.

This explains it better:

 

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Thanks for that @Caledonian
Several of mine have m. cutaneous omobrachialis that is highly visible that I've has several tell me is from muscle atrophy from ill fitting saddles. Except that the babies have never had saddles on them. I'd say genetic component to visibility.
 

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I'd say genetic component to visibility.
I agree. Regardless of fitness my gelding had a very faint m.cutaneous trunci line, neither of my mares had it. Currently two in the yard have noticable lines - one very fit with a short line and the other averagely fit with a similar line as above photos.
 

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I'll have to get pictures of the m. cutaneous omobrachialis on the palomino as it shows up really well on him. His is at the shoulder.
 
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