Dear Dr. Deb, I was re-reading true collection and today my attantion was caught by the picture you have describing the agonists and antagonists. I will explain the background story:
after a winter in "training" that consisted heavily of draw rein work, I was returned a horse that was angry and that looked like a camel: his Tb withers looked more prominant and he had a marked dip in front of them. during the summer I found your site and devoured the info in your articles and the forum. I have been retraining my horse paying attntion to the lift at the base of the neck, which he does very well in groundwork, and which I can achive more and more under saddle. So, here's my question: his muscling has changes, in particular, the dip in front of his withers is filling in, and he is developing a muscle (superficial) that looks like the cervical trapezius muscle. I believe it to be said muscle because of the location, but that would mean he is dropping the base of his neck during work, but I have been paying close attention to our work time and I have seen him lift the base of his neck almost the whole time he is doing groundwork and free walk, and at least 60% of the time during trot and canter work (he is filling in for me less and less, but filling in none the less).
I am confused: how could this muscle be wasted after incorrect work with tight draw reins, and yet devlop when I am paying attention and seeing correct biomechanics?
Micol, yours is a confusion that we quite commonly get from folks who have never actually had their hands on an actual carcass. One of the greatest -- if subtle -- benefits of attending one of my anatomy classes is that you absolutely cannot escape how very THICK the horse's body is. Particularly in the neck, the muscles are arranged in layers, one layer on top of the other.
It is therefore not safe to assume that any muscular bulge you find in the horse's neck is due to development in a muscle belonging to the most superficial layer. It is also (and I smile to say this) not good to assume that bulges are actually due to muscular development at all -- but that's another matter.
So what you are going to have to do is take a photo of your horse, setting up the lighting so that whatever bulges are there will show. Make sure the photo is in good focus, and size it no bigger than 2.2 inches wide at 300 dpi. That's just the right size to fit into the window you get here at the Forum -- any bigger and it just eats server space for no good reason.
When I see the photo, I'll be able to tell you which muscles are developing, and, in general, what your situation is. I am very sorry to hear that you permitted anyone else to train your horse, and, particularly, that you permitted the use of draw reins. Never again, please....let's call that one a lesson learned, I hope. -- Dr. Deb
Thank you for you kind reply!
Oh yes, noone else from then on will ever train my animals.
Thank you for your reply. I will do my best today and take that picture (I am leaving today for a week, so I may not post it till then). in the meantime, I am leaving the US and going back to Europe and enrolling in vet school where I hope to "play" with carcasses, and despite my pitiful financial situation, I would like to purchase one of your publications, either the conformation books or the inner horseman that talks about shoeing... which one do you suggest?