Spring and Autumn are times of the year when you may notice that your horse is ‘tight’ in his muscles.
Some of the indications are:
• He ‘feels’ tight – his muscles feel rock hard instead of nice and soft and palpable
• When moving, he will look ‘tight behind’ IE: he is not ‘tracking up’ and/or he may ‘bunny-hop’ (back legs are together) and/or disunite at the canter
• He finds it difficult to bend and is therefore unable to obtain and maintain one lead or another (note: symptoms can be asymmetrical with one side being worse than the other)
• He tends to ‘hollow out’ as his back muscles can’t relax so he can’t stretch his topline
• Any of the above will mean the horse feels ‘resistant’ and ‘hard’ rather than soft, supple and compliant.
It is so important to understand these are not training issues. It goes without saying that before you start your training the horse needs to be functioning normally or it is not fair on him.
Since a major prerequisite for soundness and training is ‘straightness’, it is imperative that it is not the horse’s diet causing these problems. In simple terms ‘straightness’ in this context means that his spine is in alignment with what he is doing, (For example, he is ‘straight’ on a circle to the right if his spine is curved to the right, he is ‘crooked’ if his spine is curved to the left while on a circle to the right)
One common reason why a horse has difficulty achieving ‘straightness’ is not due to anything ‘physical’ because the cause turns out to be an underlying chemistry problem – muscles are operated by the macro-minerals and so are the nerves which tell the muscles what to do.
For nerve and muscle problems you will get the best results from examining the total diet. The purpose of any diet adjustments is to make it easier for the horse to balance his own minerals. It is easy to focus only on what might be deficient, (like magnesium) whereas other contributing factors can involve excesses or the presence of antagonists (such as oxalates, phytates or nitrates to name a few examples)
This is why we advocate being mindful of potassium intake (eg green grass, legumes, molasses) because it is so easy to inadvertently put horses into ‘overload’ and this can precipitate a cascade of metabolic catastrophes which you will see manifesting in symptoms such as ‘tight muscles’ and/or other associated signs of ‘Grass Affectedness’. (See our checklist http://calmhealthyhorses.com/assets/pdf/checklist_2017.pdf )
If you are not sure if your horse is being affected by mineral imbalances, this checklist will alert you what to look for.
PIC:Persil relaxed after diet changes