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Asymmetrical Thoracic Sling Muscles - 2020 Conference - Part 4

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Hello and welcome back to my blog series about the Horses Inside Out Conference 2020 - Anatomy In Action.

Today I would like to discuss the second presentation from the weekend. This was given by saddler David Kempsell.

David is Managing Director of First Thought Equine Ltd which bases it’s products on scientific research and has revolutionised the saddle industry. Namely with his brand WOW saddles.

 gillian higgins horses inside out conference 2020 David Kempsell Wow saddles

David shared with us at the conference his research into asymmetry of the horse’s Thoracic Sling (or more specifically the Serratus Ventralis Thoracic) muscle function and if this contributes to the horse carrying the rider asymmetrically?

For those of you not familiar with the Thoracic Sling group of muscles in your horse please visit my accompanying blog to find out more.

David discussed with us a few reasons he believes the horse may develop asymmetry.

He shared with us how if the horse develops a strong SVT muscle for example on the left side this muscle will shorten, lifting the ribcage and creating a longer leg on this same side.

The longer leg is stronger and the point of shoulder on this side of the horse will be further forward and the shoulder blade will sit further back.

This horse will be left fore, right hind dominant and prefer to trot to the right and canter to the left.

 gillian higgins horses inside out conference 2020 thoracic sling muscles horse asymmetry

He also shared with us a series of tests that he has been able to run with a number of horses, one of which we were able to follow throughout his presentation.

The aim was to work out if it was possible to alter the proprioceptive inputs for the horse and therefore create a straighter muscled horse.

The 2 inputs that he trialed were:

It was interesting to see how the horse’s way of going on a 20 metre circle altered as the changes were made. And how the horse moved with a much more even tempo, more evenly left compared to right and how the horse had a much softer expression when the asymmetry was compensated for.

An interesting human fact from the presentation to take home too - your dominant leg is your longer leg.

Something to bear in mind when thinking about your own asymmetry as a rider!

 gillian higgins horses inside out conference 2020 rider asymmetry

I hope you have enjoyed this blog, part 5 in this series will be out soon where I will be sharing with you the fascinating facts from Dr Seth O’Neil’s presentation on Tendons and Tendonopathy.

Thanks so much once again to Horses Inside Out for allowing me access to their professional images.

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