Stress in endurance rides

Competitive long-distanc e riding tests the stamina of both horse and rider.

Endurance rides take place over varied terrain, including steep hills and natural obstacles. All breeds compete in endurance rides, but serious competitors prefer the Arab and Arabian crosses. It is said that the Arab’s short, compact back, dense bone and natural ability to go for long periods with little or no food, make them the perfect choice for endurance.

Problems associated with endurance Exhaustion, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, inflammation, lameness and muscle spasms are all encountered in endurance riding. The horse experiences tension in its entire body but especially in the muscles of the back. The spinalis dorsi muscle is located in the deep layer. It attaches to the spinous processes (projections) of the first few • thoracic vertebrae (withers) and the upper rib attachments.

If tight, this muscle causes pain when the horse moves its head up and down. It will react to tightening of the girth and show pronounced discomfort in the withers. When ridden, the horse will have an unusually high head carriage and will resist lateral movement to the side opposite the tightness. The longissimus dorsi muscle runs along the spine from the withers to the croup. It attaches to all the vertebrae, both thoracic and lumbar, and the ribs. If this muscle is tight the horse will have pain along the saddle area.

The iliocostalis dorsi muscle runs from the withers, attaches to the ribs and continues backwards to the point of the hip. The tension in this muscle is found against the last rib. The horse will have difficulty with lateral movement. The gluteus muscle anchors on the lumbar • • • spine, runs downwards and attaches to the femur. Very often hind-leg lameness is a result of tension in the gluteus and the longissimus dorsi; the horse will rest one hind leg at a time. The knot can be felt at the base of the croup. All muscle tension reacts very well to physiotherapy. Contact Kim Dyson on 082 • 888 6511.