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Muscle Monday - Longissimus Dorsi


This is the largest and longest muscle in the horse’s body!! It is a prime muscle for propulsion and assists in extending the back, hind-end, neck and flexes the spine laterally. Because of its location, size and function it is prone to problems making it one of the most important muscles to keep healthy, flexible and strong.



📍Location📍

The Longissimus Dorsi runs from the back of the horse to the front. **This is why the horse must have the hindend engaged before we can ask them to use/lift their back!! Think of a domino effect beginning at the hindend of the horse**


The “LD” begins at the Ilium, the first 3 sacral spines, continuing to attach to the lumber and thoracic spines and the supraspinous ligament. It runs up the length of the back, inserting itself into the rib junction and throughout the lumbar and thoracic processes finally inserting into the last four cervical vertebrae. (Whew!)



💥Related Movement Problems💥

Due to the LD’s job and size, spasms in the muscle will cause loss of power, back soreness, restricted stride, difficulty performing lateral movements and collection. Other symptoms of pain in the LD include; lifting/bracing of the head and neck to try to relieve back pain When watching the horse track from behind the hind limbs will not track forward underneath the horse but around and out to the side. The horse will have difficulty with transitions and maintaining gaits. When not riding, the horse typically will not stand “square” in the cross ties but will place their hind legs in a way to try to relieve pressure while constantly shifting their weight.






Long term problems in the LD will result in atrophy of the muscle(typically with a sagging belly too), roach backs, “hunters bump” (both of these being permanent) and problems in the hocks/stifles. It is also believed that a weak LD can be a factor in the development of Kissing Spine.



If you think your horse has a weak LD, reach out to me with any questions you may have. I am happy to work with you to come up with a plan on how to get your horse on the right track with exercises and targeted bodywork!

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