Horse Neck Muscles

Horse neck problems often stem from improper usage of their body or other locations. To effectively work with horses in a healthy way it is crucial that one understand how their neck muscles operate.

The horse’s cervical vertebrae are located lower in its neck than one may think, providing for lots of movement and aiding its telescoping capabilities.


This muscle is one of the key musculature components in a horse’s neck. It plays an integral part in protracting forelimb during locomotion and begins its path at what was once known as the clavicle-sternum intersection, or what’s now commonly referred to as “clavicular intersection.”

When running or walking forwards, this muscle extends its reach toward the spine of the scapula. When locomotion commences, this muscle works with omotransversarius and pectoralis major to bring closer the forelimb closer to midline while supporting trunk.

Additionally, this muscle unilaterally flexes the neck. Proper conditioning of this muscle is key to achieving extension and collection in dressage, swift clearance over jumps and breath taking acceleration at gallop. Horses suffering from navicular disease or ringbone lameness often develop soreness in this neck muscle due to them using it as a compensating measure by restricting stride length in their front legs; this results in choppy movement or resistance when bending through their poll.


The Omotransversarius muscle is a strong cord-like muscle which runs from the atlas vertebra to insertion point on spine and body of scapula, covering surface cervical lymph node as well as being covered by thin layer of fascia.

These muscles serve the primary function of moving the scapula forward when walking, bilateral contraction of these muscles redistributing mass towards one forelimb and away from another to balance its weight and position over the ground.

Though determining muscle forces is difficult, current models suggest that most of the propulsive muscle mass necessary for accelerating, jumping and running uphill in horses must reside in the proximal hindlimb. Therefore, the omotransversarius muscle is particularly crucial because it protects the scapula from injury and has predominantly type IIA fibre types; this feature enhances its powerful contraction capacity (Snow, 1983).


The trapezius muscle is an enormous vertebrate skeletal muscle with ascending, descending and transverse components. It connects the neck and central spine to the outer third of the scapula (shoulder blade), helping perform scapular elevation, adduction and depression as well as shoulder and upper arm rotation. Innervated by spinal accessory nerve XI.

The superior or descending fibers of the trapezius muscle begin their journey on an external occipital protuberance and medial third of the superior nuchal line on your skull’s posterior side, before investing into a fascial sheath which surrounds and contains both your head and also contains your sternocleidomastoid muscles.

The middle or transverse fibers of the trapezius muscle arise from the spinous processes of cervical vertebrae in cervical segment VII as well as first through fourth thoracic vertebrae, as well as their supraspinous ligaments, traveling horizontally until reaching their final destination – the middle part of an acromion apex. On the other side of this lineage converge inferior or ascending fibers which insert in to posterior lips of lateral three-fourths clavicles.


Rhomboid muscles are two extrinsic shoulder muscles known for the rhombus shape they resemble. Rhomboid major, the larger of the two rhomboids, lies deep to trapezius muscle and inferior to rhomboid minor. Both originate from spinous processes of T2-T5 vertebrae before inserting onto medial border of scapula between spine and inferior angle – providing key muscle function in retracting and rotating the scapular structure.

The cervical rhomboid muscle or musculus rhomboideus cervicis is one of the three rhomboid muscles and lies at the front of the spine, starting at its spinous processes in particular on cranial thoracic vertebrae. Its fibers converge with those from other muscles such as serratus posterior superior and thoracic spinal erectors to form myofascial meridians along the spinal column.

Rhomboid muscles may tighten and become painful when the spine is chronically in flexion. Their supply comes from the dorsal scapular artery, typically branching off from subclavian artery but in some individuals branching off directly from thyrocervical trunk. Copyright 1997 University of Washington; This medical illustration should only be used for educational purposes.


Known as the Splenius Capitis Muscle, this large straplike muscle is one of the deep, intrinsic neck muscles. It connects from your skull down through the seventh cervical vertebra to 3rd or 4th (depending on individual variation) thoracic vertebrae as well as with nuchal ligament, another strong neck muscle which helps hold your head in place.

Working together, these muscles extend your neck and chin, laterally flex your head to one side and rotate it towards that same side of your neck.

Tension headaches may be the result of inflammation at the splenius capitis muscle attachment on the occipital bone, caused by postural, impact or extra activity stressors like working in front of multiple monitors, falling asleep on an unsteady couch or wearing protective equipment while playing sports with helmets. Acupuncturists offer trigger point therapy, cupping or gua sha treatments to relax muscle tension and ease pain, or can refer patients to physical therapists to perform exercises which help prevent trigger points forming.

starting a 2 year old horse under saddle






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