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Telescoping of the neck
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Helen
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 Posted: Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 04:35 am
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Hi all,

I was a bit confused by this photo I took last year when I was looking over it today. As a whole, I would say that this horse is telescoping his neck. However, looking more closely I don't see the complexus showing at all, but rather the splenius and possibly the brachiocephalicus. Am I identifying the muscles wrongly, or is this horse so poorly developed that even when telescoping his complexus does not show? Or is he not telescoping at all?

Thanks - Helen

Attachment: _IGP325120091203.jpg (Downloaded 1038 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 05:24 am
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Helen, here's your image marked with the surface muscles discernable by eye and by palpation.

The biggest concern with this image is the fact that the horse has learned the habit of breaking his neck -- note the sharp angle formed at the junction of the axis (2nd) cervical vertebra with the 3rd cervical vertebra. This also corresponds to the boundary between the area covered by the splenius vs. the "SEP" complex of extensor muscles which extend exclusively from the atlas and axis forward to the occiput and lambdoidal crest of the skull.

The reason you ask this question is that you haven't attended an actual carcass dissection class. One of the things that students are struck by in this class, and one of the major purposes of offering this experience to students, is that they might perceive how THICK the body is, and how, especially in the horse's neck, muscles are layered over each other as well as over other structures, vis., circulatory vessels, the trachea and pharynx, and so forth.

Most people are extremely naive and unknowledgeable as to what they are actually seeing in a body. The horse's body is excellent to study because, in the summer coat, and when the animal is not too fat, many muscles can be seen and palpated. -- Dr. Deb

Key to the numbers in the attached image:

1 -- Cervical trapezius muscle

2 -- Brachiocephalicus muscle

3 -- "SEP" complex, which is a group of muscles having straight and oblique orientations, which span only from the axis and atlas vertebrae forward to the occiput and lambdoidal crest of the skull, and which function to raise, extend, or "poke forward" the muzzle.

4 -- Splenius/complexus muscle(s)

5 -- Sternomandibularis muscle

6 -- "Breast" pectoral (goes by many names in the literature)

7 -- "Shoulder" pectoral (goes by many names in the literature)

8 -- Cervical rhomboideus muscle

9 -- Parotid lymph/salivary complex

10 -- Loose connective tissue and skin covering the posterior portion of the pharynx and the upper portion of the trachea

Attachment: Neck Telescoping horse Helen Forum marked.jpg (Downloaded 1033 times)

Helen
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 Posted: Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 06:19 am
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OK thank you, that's excellent - so looking at it, the groups that can be clearly seen are the SEP complex, braciocephalicus, the splenius and part of the complexus (though in a better developed horse the complexus would show equally all the way down to the shoulder in a smooth arch) and it looks to me like the cervical trapezius is contracting as well.
Does this gesture involve raising of the base of the neck? On first glance I would say that he was 'telescoping', meaning yes, but as far as I understand the engagement of all of those muscles above, except the complexus, acts in direct opposition to the longus colli muscle which raises the base of the neck, which would mean... that the horse's poor muscle development (learned brace etc) gives him a different and much less beneficial gesture when showing curiosity?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 07:31 am
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Helen, the mere fact that you can see the boundaries that delineate muscles does not mean they are contracting. None of the muscles in this horse is contracting very strongly -- at least none that you can see. The muscles that lie on the underside of the atlas and axis, which are completely buried by other structures in the live horse and thus totally invisible in this picture, ARE contracting more than we would like; this is part of the mal-coordination that creates the "broken" neck.

To answer another of your questions or thoughts -- yes, "raising the base of the neck", that is the effort of the longus colli muscle, is what causes the "neck telescoping gesture." The horse in the photo is raising the base of his neck and, therefore, necessarily he is also telescoping it.

However, he is not raising the base, nor either telescoping the neck as a whole, as much as he would do if he had not previously learned the mal-coordination of the neck muscles that creates the "broken" posture.

I appreciate your efforts to understand how the neck works, Helen, however -- it is a misdirection of your energies to try to guess which muscles are contracting "how much", because nobody in the world actually knows that for any horse, let alone the specific one shown in your photo. All that can be said is this:

1. It is very unfortunate whenever a horse learns the mal-coordination of neck muscles which creates "broken neck posture".

2. It is one of the greatest challenges of good riding to minimize and re-direct the horse's effort to "break" the neck. The animal's knowledge of how to "break" the neck, once learned, will never completely go away; however, skillful riding can minimize it and thereby return an almost-normal degree of functionality.

3. The amount that the splenius/complexus bulges is, indeed, a direct measure of the "thoroughness" with which a horse is raising the base of his neck/telescoping the neck. The degree of engorgement of this muscle will be in exact inverse relation to how much he "breaks" his neck; in other words, the breaking of the neck allows the horse to sidestep raising the base of the neck.

4. Whoever has been riding this horse during the past several years has the habit of constantly pulling or holding the reins "square" in both hands, in other words, the fatal habit of frequently using both hands the same at the same time. This is what teaches horses to brace and break their necks. This person needs to start taking the advice given here seriously, vis., that the two hands ALWAYS have different jobs, that each hand is connected primarily not to the mouth but to the feet, and that therefore the left hand must never be doing the same thing as the right hand at any time. There must never be continual backward traction in either rein, much less both reins at once. As I said in the most recent issue of "Equus", which you have evidently been reading: "a horse's training history is written in his neck."

And writ large, I might add. Go over to the recent "twisting hock" thread and read there my story about the young woman on the buckskin horse. I have been trying to get Old Fan, the correspondent who posted that question, to stop telling me with each reply all that she does so very well, but instead to start asking herself what she needs to change. So here I'm saying the same thing to you, Helen: do you see anything in that story about the buckskin's rider and how she is trying to "train" her horse that is similar to anything you might have been doing? And if so -- what is the first thing you are going to work at changing? This is the only thing that matters. It does not help the horse if we only keep playing those notes in the composition that we already play well. It's the flat notes, the badly played notes, the wrong notes, and the blurry intervals that need our attention. -- Dr. Deb 

Helen
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 Posted: Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 08:04 am
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OK, that makes a lot of sense. The thing I had wrong was assuming that because the muscles could be seen clearly, they were contracting. That's not the case, they are bulging because they have been developed through poor riding. I understood the rest of your post well.

As far as my own riding/horse training goes - I do not have my own horse, nor will I be able to get one in the next 5 years or so, as I am a first year university student with not much money and even less time. I have not ridden the horse pictured.
I do currently ride once a fortnight or so, and I have a huge internal struggle over whether I should continue to do so. I ride at a riding school, taking lessons in dressage and jumping, and as you would expect this involves me being told to do a lot of things that are extremely contrary to that which I hear here and want so badly to try. I try to develop skills that will be applicable when I do have my own horse, like feeling where the horse is placing each foot, balance, asking the horse to twirl the head, telescope the neck during stretching time (which we are allowed, thank goodness) and disengage the hindquarter, observing body language between horses, etc.
I do enjoy jumping as usually the horses we ride are relatively keen jumpers, so I can feel their birdie flying out ahead over the jump and am never told to hold my hands fixed as I am during dressage - it lets me have a little feeling of my desires being the same as the horse's, however fleeting.

But still, I constantly ask myself whether the great joy I get from being around the horses is worth the consistently negative messages I receive from my instructor and fellow riders - things about pushing the horse up into the bridle, punishing him for 'resistance', holding a firm outside rein, and so on. Of course they are all lovely people, but that doesn't make them right.

Really, I suppose I've almost dreaded asking - do you think that it would be better to stop riding altogether than to continue taking these lessons? I get so incredibly frustrated about not being able to try all these amazing exercises and ideas and attitudes which I feel like I'm starting to understand... but at the same time I'm just not sure I could handle not riding at all for so long, and really there's no alternative. I just don't know.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 09:47 pm
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Helen, I think you need to take a longer perspective here.

There is NEVER a reason why you can't be around horses. But your brain is kind of frozen into the common types of categories, the common types of ways that you are used to seeing people be around horses.

Also, maybe there is still quite a bit of desire in you to "go for a ride" as opposed to "be of service to horses."

If you can get your mindset into the latter, then a whole world of possibilities opens up.

You can volunteer to exercise somebody else's horse. You could even start a business doing this -- like a "dogsitting" service. And while the owner is away, why, the mice will play, won't they? Nobody says you can't learn to twirl the head on somebody else's horse, or on your school horses for that matter. And if you're employed to ride the horse, why then, you ride him how YOU ride him.

You can volunteer to go clean stalls in trade for being permitted to ride somebody's horse, or in trade for lessons. Look for someone else who is engaged in the style of horsemanship that we advocate.

You can go get a job at Mickey Dee's or the like, and save up your shekels and get yourself a viable automobile. You can then use same to get to wherever you need to. It's the ability to earn money that enables anyone to have horses, anyway. They do not call this the Sport of Kings for nothing.

Because where you need to go is, to begin with, Wayne Anderson's. He's just moved up to NSW I think, but I believe he still does quite a few clinics in his old neighborhood which was fairly close to you down south.

And next, you need to go be with Buck Brannaman next time he's there. Wayne sponsors Buck so that's how you do that. And you need to go meet Harry Whitney, who was also recently in your neighborhood.

So, yes, Helen: I'd certainly take all the money you're currently spending on the worthless pull-and-shove type of lessons, and put that money toward getting WHEELS. Because although you say you want it, and you have said that here for several years, you're also always telling me why you can't have it. Well, honey, now that you're past the age of majority, there's only ONE main calling, and that is to bring in the dough, because lettuce in our society is how we gain personal freedom. Your ability to meet good horsemen is dependent upon nobody but yourself.

You'll be surprised how much you learn by hanging out at a variety of barns and stables, and meeting more different people who have horses that need ridden. NOW GO GET IT. -- Dr. Deb

David Genadek
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 Posted: Sun Jun 6th, 2010 04:17 pm
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I hate to change this back to necks but after reading this the other day I went to eat lunch and saw a deer in the back yard and took some pictures. I learned in the skeleton class that I could learn to see the subtle differences between horses better if I compared the horse to other animals.  So I though I would put them up to see what everyone can see. How does the deers neck differ from the horses?  Why?

David Genadek

Attachment: deer_necks.jpg (Downloaded 908 times)

Last edited on Sun Jun 6th, 2010 04:18 pm by David Genadek

David Genadek
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 Posted: Wed Jun 9th, 2010 03:40 pm
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And then we have Mr elephant.

Attachment: elephant_neck.jpg (Downloaded 845 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Jun 9th, 2010 10:42 pm
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Yes, quite the opposite, isn't it. A human would be equally apparently short in the neck. I'll get time later this afternoon to post images of an elephant skeleton for comparison. And maybe a Sable antelope! -- Dr. Deb

David Genadek
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 Posted: Thu Jun 10th, 2010 12:14 am
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I'm thinking along the lines of two ratios; The cervical chain relative to the thoracic chain back to the anticlinal vertebra and another ratio of nuchal ligament length to cervical chain length. I'm also thinking about the two triangles that are formed and thier relationship and how it changes as the base of the neck lifts.  I'm thinking the longest  spinal process is a shared side of the two triangles.

When the nuchal ligament ratio to cervical chain is close to one ,as on the deer, the base of the neck can go up and down unrestrained. When the Nuchal ligament is shorter than the cervical chain it forces the arc of motion forward.

David Genadek 


PS Mr Cow

Attachment: cow-necks.jpg (Downloaded 799 times)

Jacquie
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 Posted: Tue Jun 15th, 2010 04:06 pm
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Is this an example of a good telescope or not? I brought Sunny in to see the house at the weekend and he was very interested in the TV. I know its a funny picture (don't anyone EVER tell Geoff he came into the living room) but it really shows him stretching his neck and telescoping it beautifully to reach out and touch the TV face, but I cant decide if it shows a break in his neck or not.

 

Attachment: Sunny watching TV.jpg (Downloaded 738 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jun 15th, 2010 11:52 pm
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Yes, Jacquie, this is a good example of a horse telescoping his neck. And no, there is no break in his neck at all. The animal is cresty, rather.

I have to ask -- do you have hardwood floors, or carpets? -- Dr. Deb

Jacquie
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 Posted: Wed Jun 16th, 2010 10:38 am
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Erm there are carpets in the living room. I know, I know. Just dont EVER tell Geoff! Its so funny seeing him in there - he looks so huge! He loves it too - just walks in beside me like a puppy. I am glad you thought he was not 'broken' in the neck - I was just not sure if I was missing something.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Jun 16th, 2010 06:37 pm
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Jacquie, I don't think you're missing anything on neck telescoping. On bringing a horse into the house, though, very possibly yes.

I might have been more inclined to take the TV out to the stable than to bring the horse into the house. Dangerous for the horse, an environment not suited to or designed for horses, and also (minor consideration) very likely not too good for either floors or carpets.

If you want proof of your horse's obedience, Jacquie, I'd suggest next time you build him a new piece of circus equipment. -- Dr. Deb

Jacquie
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 Posted: Wed Jun 16th, 2010 07:05 pm
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You are right, DD it is not a good thing at all to do with most ponies. A house is a very alien and dangerous environment for ponies, especially if they are fearful of their surroundings - things could get very nasty very quickly. Sunny is exceptional though, and  there is plenty of space in this house, it has really big rooms, That living room is 18 x 18 and the doors are very wide, plus there are wide patio doors in the living room too to use if I needed to get him out quickly. The carpets are definitely at risk, but Sunny was not. I set it up beforehand so that there was not any trip or slip hazards, (he is not shod either) no constrictions with furniture and there are no wires on the floors. I would not let him actually touch the TV screen as the static would give him a little shock, which could produce a strong reaction of course. I have owned this dear pony for over ten years and he very polite and well mannered in hand.  He was actually totally unstressed and very happy in the house - even though it was a very odd environment for him and was not in the least bit spooky, just curious and interested to see the human stables! I dont think its going to be a very regular habit though - especially when he is all muddy and wet in the winter!

Last edited on Wed Jun 16th, 2010 07:11 pm by Jacquie


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