Response to the waspish ghosts of theological thinking.

Part VI




As long as they are alive, horses adapt to the rider’s movements and compensate for the incongruities of the training techniques. After death, as they became specimens into the necropsy room, the naked true is there, exposed on the table. A research, which demanded isolation of the whole vertebral column, was executed on three specimens. The three vertebral columns remained crooked even after all muscles and ribs have been removed. Only the vertebrae and the ligaments were left and the spine maintained one side bending, or inverted rotation or the combination of both.


(The white line underlines the crookedness, left lateral bending and inverted rotation)


One can easily imagine that when he was alive, this horse had great difficulty bending to the right. The right lead canter was likely difficult and the horse might have been punished for is behavior. He does not want to bend on the right circle. He does not want to give the right lead canter. In fact, on the necropsy table, it was very difficult to bend the spine to the right. The specimen was so deeply crooked that even when all the muscles were removed the spine remained crooked.


The purpose of the study was not to verify this phenomenon. In fact the finding was a surprise. The question is; what causes such crookedness. The response is straight forward; the combination of natural predisposition and bad training. At the walk as well as at the trot, the thoracolumbar spine bends alternatively to the right and to the left in coordination with the limbs action. Lateral bending is always coupled with a movement of transversal rotation and therefore any imbalance between right and left side of the back muscles will alter the symmetry between one lateral bending over the other and/or one rotation over the other. Since, like a human, a horse is never perfectly symmetrical, an inherent muscle imbalance will became worse and worse with the presence of a rider on the horse’s back and never the less with the demand of athletic performances.


A horse is living in the moment and therefore a horse does not work or correct naturally a muscle imbalance. Instead, the horse  develops compromises to protect it. The rider is responsible for a sound analysis of the horse’s locomotor patterns and the conception and the execution of a gymnastic program recreating symmetry of the back muscles.


Lateral bending may be associated with a correct rotation but also can be coupled with an inverted rotation. The specimen presented here obviously combined left lateral bending and inverted rotation.  Such combination induces abnormal stresses on the vertebral column and consequently on the limbs action. In fact in almost every case of navicular syndrome that we have rehabilitated, inverted rotation was the culprit.


The question is what causes inverted rotation. Once again, the response is straight forward, the combination of natural muscles imbalance aggravated by bad training. The drawing illustrates one type of bad training but in fact all training techniques promoting lateral bending of the horse’s thoracolumbar spine through hands actions that are bending the neck laterally are creating inverted rotation.

Our ancestors believed that the horse’s vertebral column bended laterally from the tail to the neck. Better knowledge demonstrated that in fact lateral bending was mostly occurring between the 9th and 14th thoracic vertebrae, which are exactly between the rider’s thighs. There is also very little lateral bending in the lumbar region, between the first and the fourth lumbar vertebrae. It belongs to the rider’s back, pelvis and thighs to bend the horse’s thoracic spine and definitively not to the rider’s hands.      


Theologians of the Dark Age pretend otherwise wishing that more people come to them for learning. Thanks for the horses, even if the dark side of the internet is to allow the ghosts to write on and on about how great they are and how bad other people are, the internet also allows introduction and discussion of pertinent discoveries. As say Eleanor Roosevelt, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”

Jean Luc Cornille

copyright 2011 All rights reserved


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