Everything that I’ve learned about movement and postural rehabilitation, I learned from the horse.
How certain muscles play off of one another.
Which ones they activate in play drive vs prey drive.
And how they develop (or fall apart) depending on what they’re doing.
So when I got the chance last year to get my hands on a ton of new foals, I absolutely jumped on the chance!
What better way to get a true opportunity to learn about baseline movements and restrictions than studying a foal. (Also, there’s nothing cuter than baby horses).
I got to work on and observe a little over 30 foals, and it was fascinating to find that the common theme of restrictions was in their neck and shoulders.
Same as the adults that I’ve developed programs around.
Obviously babies aren’t messed up by humans and circles yet, so what’s causing this?
The largest part of their bodies to force open the birth canal and leave the womb is the combination of the shoulder blades and chest.
The head acts as a wedge, dilating the birth canal but is substantially smaller than the front of the foal’s chest, leaving the foal to collapse their little scapulas into their neck and SQUEEEEEEZE through.
Now, remembering again that the horse has no skeletal structure in the front - No clavicle.
Meaning, if they don’t develop the muscles in thoracic sling to push the shoulder blades out and away from the precious nerves, C6/C7 and T1, they will be set up from birth to have thoracic sling failure, and then topline syndrome and a slew of all of the other compensatory injuries I talk about. (On top of the horribly aggressive behavior cases from severe nerve impingements).
And because they’re prey animals, they will actively avoid using any part of their body that is actively weak, just in case a predator might hone in that they’re the weakest link!
The good news is, we can start manually working out the spacing and teaching our babies how to develop their sling from the very beginning with gentle pt exercises focused on them.
(It’s literally my favorite thing to do).
What better way to set up our equine athletes than by from ground 0?
Side note - When Rhythm wouldn’t latch on my left breast, I took her to a bodyworker who addressed her birth trauma in her neck and shoulder and it fixed it like a charm.
Birth trauma is very real in humans too, and it’s frequently subtle things that go unnoticed but cause significant postural issues.