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[RC] Gaited horses/sore back - Bruce Weary DC

 I, too, have experienced the "stagnant back" when gaiting for a long time. It's nice to have a horse that can mix up the gaits a bit. I think it's good for the horse and the rider both. The foxtrotter is a trotting horse as well as a gaiting horse, and as such, many of them can switch between gaits, allowing the horse and the rider to use other muscle groups.
  To bore you folks further, there is an important neurologic relationship between our joints and the muscles that drive them. All of the joints in our body are richly supplied with nerve endings which supply information back to the spinal cord and brain, as well as the muscles themselves. When you ride a gaited horse (or sit at a desk too long, for that matter) these nerve endings "quiet down" and don't provide as much information as they could to the muscles nearby. This contributes to the "stiff" feeling we have sometimes when getting up from bed in the morning, rising from a chair after a few hours of sitting, or gaiting for a long time on a horse. So, when we change gaits, or get up from a chair and move around, we engage different joint systems, which is just as influential as moving the different muscles themselves. This is one of the reasons that athletic trainers will teach you to use a full range of motion when lifting weights. Yes, it stimulates more muscle, but also wakens more nerve endings in the joint, which then talk to the muscle and help in the strength building process. Anyone who has experienced restricted mobility in a joint (from injury, surgery, joint replacement, arthritis) will often notice that the muscles that move that joint lose size and strength even after aggressive therapy. One of the reasons for this is that if the joint nerve endings can't be fully stimulated, the associated muscles can't either.
   That's it for today. There will be a quiz on this material on Wednesday. Class dismissed.  
     Bruce Weary