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Yup, riding a horse does make his back extend...

I found another study that confirms what previous studies have shown: a horse's back sags under weight - live or dead.
One of the first posts on our blog was about research done that shows a horse's back is extended (more hollow) under weight than when he is just standing in a field.  This goes… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/yup-riding-a-horse-does-make-his-back-extend/

It's not just ancient history

And I thought the "donkey seat" was only on old pottery...
Subscribe to RSS Feed In some circles, there is a lot of discussion of where the ideal position of the rider on the horse is located.  (Whether or not that position is… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/it-s-not-just-ancient-history/

Back movement and muscle contractions

So what has research shown about how and when the longissimus dorsi and rectus abdominis contract? Here's some answers...
We finished off the last post in this series by saying  "So if we just went with how things look like they should work, then the longissimus dorsi, the serratus dorsalis, the… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/back-movement-and-muscle-contractions/

A few more trunk muscles

Spinal movement is affected by lots of muscles. Here are some trunk muscles in the horse that are worth knowing about.
A couple of segmented muscles There's a couple of segmented muscles that act primarily on the ribs but which can also affect the spine.  They all start on the fascia… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/a-few-more-trunk-muscles/

The Medial Gluteal muscle

A major mover of the hind end, this is a hind end muscle that can be negatively affected by poor saddle fit.
Subscribe to RSS Feed   Well, I'm finally getting around to that hind end muscle I promised I'd write about before my interlude post.  The name of this muscle - the… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/the-medial-gluteal-muscle/

The Pectoral muscles

While the pectoral muscles aren't under the saddle, they are definitely affected by the cinch, so I figured I'd talk about them too a bit...
Subscribe to RSS Feed To finish our discussion of the muscles that help hold the front leg onto the horse which are affected by the saddle, we need to talk about the… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/the-pectoral-muscles/

The Serratus Ventralis muscle

Another very important muscle that supports the body of the horse which is also involved in the movement of the shoulder blade is the serratus ventralis. It also can be affected by saddles and saddling.
Getting back to the series on equine anatomy...  There are a few other muscles that attach the front leg to the body of the horse that can be affected by saddling and riding. … https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/the-serratus-ventralis-muscle/

The Rhomboideus muscle

Another muscle which attaches the forelimb of the horse to its body, and how it might affect saddles and how they fit.
 Also called the rhomboids, this muscle is the next in the line of muscles I am talking about that attach the front leg of the horse to its body.  Unlike the previous muscles we… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/the-rhomboideus-muscle/

A word (or a few) about muscles

Moving on from bones to muscles, here's some basics to start with.
#1  Muscles only pull.  They can't push. When being taught about muscle physiology in vet school, I remember the prof saying "You can't push on a rope."  as an analogy of how… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/a-word-or-a-few-about-muscles/

Movement of the rib cage

How the rib cage of the horse moves might be influenced by cinch and saddle. So what is normal and what may we need to consider when it comes to saddling up our horse?
It is pretty well known in the cowboy world that you don't want your cinch, latigos and billets to be all synthetic material.  You want at least something (preferably all) to… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/movement-of-the-rib-cage/

Movement of the lumbar spine

A description of the movement available in the equine lumbar spine.
Looking at the anatomy of the lumbar spine, you might think that there isn't as much movement there as in the thoracic spine, and you'd be correct. But there still is more… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/movement-of-the-lumbar-spine/

Can the loin of the horse carry weight?

Saddle fit "rules" say that you can't have weight on the horse past T18, but almost every western saddle extends onto the loin of the horse. Which is correct?
Spines don't lift weights I posed the question about the strength of the back to a well respected veterinary researcher at a large vet college in the US whose specialty is the… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/can-the-loin-of-the-horse-carry-weight/

Thoracic spine anatomy, movement and saddle fit

Thoracic spinal anatomy is the basis for spinal movement, which is a huge factor in saddle fit. Here's some of how it works.
We ended the last post with the idea that the shape of the vertebrae is important in the movement of the thoracic spine and therefore the thoracic part of the back.  If you… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/thoracic-spine-anatomy-movement-and-saddle-fit/

The cervical (neck) vertebrae and how they move

While we don't ride the neck, its movement has a lot of effect on the shape of the back, especially during movement. Besides, its anatomy is fascinating!
Subscribe to RSS Feed You can now purchase our 67 minute video, Western Saddle Fit - The Basics, by going to our new website, westernsaddlefit.com. We also have a 7… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/the-cervical-neck-vertebrae-and-how-they-move/

And the vertebra is connected to the...

Here is the unique way the spinal column is connected together, and how it is designed to be strong and yet flexible.
Subscribe to RSS Feed next vertebra.  And the next vertebra is connected to the… next vertebra. (Sing it with me!!)  Actually they are connected to all of the other… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/and-the-vertebra-is-connected-to-the/

Putting the spine together

Here's how we went about reconstructing Arnie's spine.
Subscribe to RSS Feed Once we were finished putting together the front leg and the hind leg, we set them aside and it was on to the spine.  We set up all the vertebrae… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/putting-the-spine-together/

Of pivots, lollipops and springs - movement of the horse’s hind leg

How horses move is interesting, and anything but straight forward. In learning about anything that has to do with saddle fit, I have been fascinated to learn more about how the movement of the hind end changes at different gaits. It is not just the pivo…
Subscribe to RSS Feed When we talked about the front leg, we said there was no defined pivot point because the whole leg is attached by muscle, so the shoulder blade… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/of-pivots-lollipops-and-springs-movement-of-the-horses-hind-leg/

Bones of the hind leg - part two

Moving down the hind leg, horses have some neat anatomy that lets them rest and even sleep standing up. Here's a bit about how it works.
Subscribe to RSS Feed In the first post about the bones of the hind limb, I talked about some interesting lumps at the top of the femur. Now let’s look at the… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/bones-of-the-hind-leg-part-two/

Bones of the hind leg - part one

How a horse moves is determined by how the muscles and bones work together. The power in a horse comes from the hind end. The bones are the solid foundation of that powerhouse.
We put Arnie’s hind leg together using the same methods as we did his front leg.  The bones below the hocks are very similar (but not identical) to the bones below the… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/bones-of-the-hind-leg-part-one/

Movement of the shoulder blades and saddle fit

Since the shoulder blade rotates back a bit when they move, how come we say that the bar of a Western saddle tree should sit right behind it? Won't that cause muscle damage and interfere with the horse's movement? Nope - and here's why.
You can now purchase our 67 minute video, Western Saddle Fit - The Basics, by going to our new website, westernsaddlefit.com. We also have a 7 minute YouTube video on Western… https://www.rodnikkel.com/content/saddle-tree-blog-from-shop-and-desk/movement-of-the-shoulder-blades-and-saddle-fit/

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