Training Philosophy Volitional Learning “Are you happy with your horse riding experience?” Preface Advanced Horsemanship Advanced Horsemanship 2 Advanced Horsemanship 3 Imitation verses Intelligence Reeducating Gestures verses Energy Creating a functional horse Reeducating a horse Less is Better Equine Anatomy verses Equine Anatomy A New Generation Of Riders False Practices False Practices 2 Sophisticated Equine Education Technical discussion with Leanne False practice 3 Wear and Tear oversimplifications Functional Anatomy Class-Sick The Miracles of the Science of Motion2 Xenophon 2014 The Science of Motion Work in Hand Gravity The rational for not touching the horses’ limbs Amazing Creatures Fundamental Difference The Heart of Science The Meaning of Life The Meaning Of Life part 2 The meaning of life PT3 Meaning of Life part 4 Meaning of life part 5 The Meaning of life 6 Quiet Legs The Root Cause The Source Meaning of life pt 7 Relaxation verses Decontraction The Tide Meaning of life pt 8 Mechano-responsiveness Mechano-responsiveness PT 3 Mechanoresponsiveness PT 4 Mechanoresponsiveness PT 5 Mechanoresponsiveness Pt 6 Mechanoresponsiveness PT 7 Mechanoresponsiveness PT 8 Mechanoresponsiveness PT 9 Mechanoresponsiveness PT 10 Mechanicalresponsiveness PT 11 Mechanoresponsiveness PT 12 Mechanoresponsiveness 13 Specialized Entheses Mechanoresponsiveness 14 Mechanoresponsiveness 15 Mechanoresponsiveness 16 Mechanoresponsiveness 17 Skipping Mechanoresponsiveness 18 Mechanoresposiveness 19 Mechanoresponsiveness 20 Mechno-responsiveness 21 Mechanoresponsiveness 22 Strategic-learning The Fake Line Mechnoresponsivenss 17 Simple Disobedience The Hen with the Golden Eggs Mechanoresponsiveness 23 Class Metronome Chocolate Mechno 24 Stamp Collecting Mechanoresponsivenes 25 Meaning of Life pt 9 Mechanoresponsiveness 26 Meaning of life 10 Meaning of life pt 11 Mechanoresponsiveness 28/Equitation & Science Mechanoresponsiveness 29 Meaning of life 12 Meaning of life 13 Mechanoresponsiveness 30 Mechanoresponsiveness 31 Meaning of life 15 Mechanoresponsiveness 32

Equine Anatomy verses Equine Anatomy


Jean Luc Cornille

Dressage and In hand horse trainer

Equine Anatomy verses Equine Anatomy


There are two types of horse’s anatomy, the one supporting the thought that lowering of the neck stretches upper neck and back muscles and the real horse’s anatomy which contradict such beliefs. Even if they theoretically refer to the same horse, the two anatomies are totally different. One of the strong arguments of long and low proponents is that elongating the head, reaching with his nose forward increases the stretching of the upper neck muscles. The expression commonly use is “stretching through the bit.” The problem with the claim is that the muscles that move the head are not the muscles that lower the neck. There are 21 pairs of muscles moving the head, including reaching the nose forward. They do not elongate at all the upper neck muscles. In fact, reaching with the nose forward shortens the upper element of one of the upper neck muscles.

The two main muscles involved in the lowering of the neck are the splenius and the semispinalis capitis. The splenius is not even inserted on the skull. The muscle is inserted laterally on the nuchal crest. Beside its main function, that is resisting the lowering of the neck, the lateral insertion of the splenius on the upper end of the nuchal crest allows the muscle to bend the head and neck laterally. Instead, the muscle does not elongate at all when the horse nose reaches forward. The other main upper neck muscle, which is the semispinalis capitis, does have its upper element that is inserted on the upper crest of the skull. However, in order to move the horse’s nose forward, the upper compartment of the semispinalis capitis has to pull the skull back and therefore the muscle does not elongate but at the contrary shortens in concentric contraction. I am talking about compartment because the semispinalis capitis is built in numerous compartments. The muscle does have an internal tendon and there are 6 elements situated below the central tendon and 7 compartments situated above. Such architecture is convenient for the horse as it permits numerous variations of movements such as lateral bending, rotations, etc. By contrast, the construction contradicts the stretching theories which think that the muscle elongates as a whole. Due to its architecture of compartments, the compartments situate at the base of the muscle can have a totally different action than the compartments situated at the top.

Most of the stretching theories believe that the lower neck muscles, which are the muscles situated below the cervical vertebrae pull the head and neck down stretching the upper neck muscles. The reality is totally different. The lowering of the neck is not created by the lower neck muscles because they don’t have the power to elongate the upper neck. Instead, the lowering of the neck is created by gravity. The horse’s head and neck weight about 10% of the horse’s body mass and gravity is pulling the neck and head down. The upper neck muscles resist the attraction of gravity and therefore allow some lowering resisting attraction of gravity. Some studies define the upper neck muscles’ resistance as isometric hold, which means that the muscle contract without elongating or shortening. Other studies refer to the muscular work as eccentric, which means that the muscles contract while elongating. Eccentric contraction is also called active stretch. This needs to be soundly interpreted. Active stretch or eccentric contraction is the most powerful type of muscular contraction. Such contraction can be between 15 to 50 times stronger than concentric.

The term relax is often used in the stretching theories. Whatever the neck position, the splenius stiffens as the front hoof impacts in order to resist the acceleration of gravity created by the impact forces. This stiffening that occurs twice per stride is part of the locomotor mechanism at the walk, the trot and the canter. If the neck was relaxed, the head and neck would drop at each impact.

The main argument of the stretching proponents is that the horse “stretches” naturally lowering the neck after work. There is a strong ligament named nuchal ligament that connect the cranial thoracic vertebrae and the skull. The nuchal ligament is not under tension when the neck is up into an alert position. The ligament comes under tension when the neck is lowered into a more horizontal position. The purpose of the nuchal ligament is reducing the work of the upper neck muscles. At the walk, the nuchal ligament eases the work of the upper neck muscles by 55%. At the trot and canter, the nuchal ligament eases the work of the upper neck muscles by 32 to 36%. The horse does not stretch the neck, he simply eases the work of the upper neck muscles placing the neck into a more horizontal position and therefore using the passive resistance of the nuchal ligament.

Proponents of the long and low theory make statements but rarely explain how it works. When they do, they invent a horse anatomy that fit their beliefs. Recently was published a perfect example of “convenient” anatomy. The type of anatomy that fit the belief but is not even vaguely related to the way the horse physique is effectively built and functions. “Since the neck is attached to the withers and the withers to the large muscles over the top of the back, the stretch can reach far back toward the hips.” This is plain false. The two main back muscles are the longissimus dorsi, which is in fact composed of several muscles following the same line, the longissiumus cervicis, capitis, thoracis, lumborum etc. The fasciles of the longissimus system are inserted in oblique down and forward from the dorsal spines to the articular processes on the vertebrae. The fascicle bridge approximately 3 to 5 vertebrae. The fascicles of the Multifidius muscles are oriented in the opposite direction, oblique, down and back covering about 3 vertebrae all along the thoracolumbar spine. During locomotion, there are many circumstances where the fascicles of the thoracic region contract differently than the fascicles of the lumbar region.

Every time that we publish an educated discussion about lowering of the neck we came under nasty attacks of uneducated riders and trainers who want to believe in their stretching theories. Truly, this does not change the real horse’s anatomy. We are willing to explain a little further if you want to know more about the horse’s functional anatomy as advanced research study explain it today. Anyone interested to understand how neck alignment affects or helps the horse is welcome. We have created a course which provides advanced understanding of equine functional anatomy and how to apply new knowledge. Instead, if you think about lowering of the neck as a cult that should not be question and therefore are going to argue base on a horse’s anatomy that does not exist, we are not going to respond because we will not be talking about the same creature. We will simply push the delete button.

Jean Luc