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Muscle Monday! - Splenius


✨Splenius✨



The Splenius is a large muscle that is the main stabilizer of the horses neck. It’s job is to elevate the head and neck as well as incline the head and neck to the side of the muscle in action.


📍Location📍

The Splenius begins as a deep muscle at the 3rd, 4th and 5th thoracic spines through the dorsoscapular ligament and the nuchal ligament. From there is travels up the neck to the insert deep into the nuchal crest near the wing of the atlas.


💥Related Movement Problems💥

Atrophy of this muscle will be easily seen, as it gives the appearance of the horse having a hallow neck, with over developed supporting muscles (mainly the brachiocephalicus and rhomboid muscles).

While riding you will feel a resistance in your horses ability to move their head and neck to the side. Additionally, your horse may want to carry their head and neck lower to relieve pressure on this muscle.


Common causes of tensional patterns in this muscle are the incorrect use of draw reins, martingale or tie downs. It can also be caused by a rider with heavy hands. It is common in dressage horses due to the flexion of the horses head to be in the vertical position.

This is a common muscle for most horses to experience tension and soreness due to its large size and importance in the way the horse moves.


The best way to help your horse develop a stronger Splenius is to allow them to travel long and low developing that muscle. You can do this with arena work or by simply taking your horse on a trail ride or hack on the buckle allowing them to use and stretch their neck. If you are looking for arena work to help this muscle, serpentines would be a great addition to your flatwork.


Also, don’t forget your “cookie” or neck stretches before and after your rides. Start slow with the stretch if your horse is very tight giving them time to build up the flexibility to do it fully. If you ever have questions or want to learn more stretches to help your horse, I am always happy to show you!


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