Apart from reining competitions, horses do not naturally spin 3- 4 revolutions on the spot in the paddock. So, the best way to prevent injury is to discuss ‘Transversal Rotation of the spine’.
Transversal Rotation occurs in the horse between the Thoracic 9 and Thoracic 14 region. (Where the rider sits)
If the Transversal Rotation is incorrect, it is called an ‘Inverted’ Rotation.
Inverted rotation causes many problems for the horse, not the least being able to perform a manoeuvre like the spin.
If the rider does not notice that they are continually riding their horse with an inverted rotation – at a minimum, the horse will struggle to perform and at the other end, the horse will definitely ‘break down’ sooner than expected and their career ended with multiple problems.
Even though the back is the cause of the problem – The rider/ trainer when riding the horse may accuse the shoulder of where the problem stems from- but will usually state that it is hard to pin point. Also, the semimembranosus muscle functions -amongst other things- to adduct (bring inwards) the hind limb, and adduction without forward motion is placing the stifle joints and stabilising muscles under undue stress anyway – which may be why a horse finds it even harder to spin on one hind leg if there is already an underlying back problem.
What is inverted rotation?
Advanced knowledge and many hours of study by numerous scientists, vets and horsemen have shown that a horse with a longitudinal and lateral bend -say for example – to the right, has the dorsal (top part) spinous processes vertically inclined while going to the right –or slightly tipped in that direction. (T9-T14) = rotation
Inverted rotation is when the horse -say for example- is going to the left, and his dorsal spinous processes with a longitudinal bend and lateral bend are facing right, and the vertebral bodies of those vertebrae (T9-T14) are facing left (the lower facets of the vertebrae). The horse has what then is called a left inverted rotation.
*** If the horse is shifting you to the outside of the saddle, then most likely the horse has an inverted rotation – so for example when you spin to the right – you feel more upright in the saddle (or else you actually maybe leaning in ) , and going into the left spin your weight is shifted more to the outside. Your outside stirrup will appear longer, and your spine is not in line with the horse’s spine. The horse may throw himself around in the spins with a bit of a leap, try to canter around, be jerky, or just plain anxious (anticipation of pain).
This problem can get quite severe if the rider is unaware of the problem, and blames it on something else.
Ride the horse in a corridor from day one, so that his spine can function as it is meant to – it is there to support his basic structure so that all his muscles, ligaments, connective tissues can function properly (including all limbs)
This is a very shallow look at the function of the vertebral column of the horse, but I hope it makes riders more interested in why their horses may not be performing.
The pictures show inverted rotation, and one horse that is straight while spinning (black and white photo). Take a look at photos(or videos) of yourself on your own Reiner and see how ‘straight’ you are spinning your horse and think how much better he could perform if he had been ridden straighter from the beginning – “Soundness is the Key to Success”, Kerryn (10/08/2014)
For more information, here is a start for you: ‘Science of Motion’ (Jean Luc Cornille) ‘Functional anatomy of the caudal thoracolumbar and lumbosacral spine in the horse’ (Stubbs, Hodges, Jeffcott, Cowin, Hodgson and McGowan) ‘Spinal biomechanics and functional anatomy’ (Jean Marie Denoix 1999),