By Dr Karin Leibbrandt
If a horse is being trained in an incorrect posture, hollowing the back and shortening the neck this will cause a direct effect on the tendons. This incorrect posture causes too much weight on the forehand. The front legs will stay on the ground longer and will carry more weight. The horse sinks too far through the fetlock joints. But this is not the only effect that occurs.
The body of a horse is built out of fascia. Fascia is connective tissue that connects every part of the horse. From nose to tail and from skin to organs. The past 5 years the knowledge of this tissue has increased massively, but this important knowledge is not integrated in the common way of thinking yet.
The first picture shows a muscle (splenius muscle). All the white tissue is fascia. The outside layer of a muscle is fascia but we can also see many layers of fascia in the muscle. Recent science shows that a muscle is actually a network of fascia with muscle cells in it. Without the fascia the muscle would simply be a pool of muscle cells, since the muscle needs the fascia to hold the shape.
If we look at the muscle head of the flexor tendon (drawing 2) we can see that the tendon is also made out of connective tissue, fascia. The fascia in the muscle continues in the flexor tendon. This means that tendons are part of the fascia system. Since we know that fascia connect all the muscles and make it into one system, this means that the muscle heads of the flexor tendons are connected with the triceps and the fascia of the musculature in the core of the horse.
If we train a horse in an incorrect, unhealthy posture, the core muscles and fascia will restrict and get tense. This tension will spread towards the extremities into the muscle head of the flexor tendons, causing more tension in the tendons. This tension makes the horse more vulnerable to developing tendon injuries. A small misstep or continued small overload during training (overload by placing too much weight on the front legs for example) can cause tendon injuries that will make the horse clearly lame. It seems as a sudden onset, but actually this process has been going on for months or years.
To keep your horse free from tendon injuries we have to train him in correct and healthy posture and take good care of the fascia system by releasing tension and restriction.