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Rules of Thumb for the Thoracic Sling

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

When is my horse fit enough in its thoracic sling to ride?”

There are a ton of different things to look at, making considerations to any underlying pathologies as well as of course what’s going on in the hooves, but here are a few general rules of thumb that I personally look at.

1.) What is the horses normal resting posture.

Not squared up, just on its own, how does he like to stand in his body?

2.) Is he balanced over his center or does he feel the need to rock forward or have his legs tucked underneath him?

A well developed sling is a centered and balanced horse at neutral and that to me is a fair metric of if they are able to bear weight.

3.) What is the difference in angle between his stifle and elbow joints?

This should be as close to neutral as possible for optimal joint loading.

(Confirmation does come into play a LITTLE here, but not as much as you would think).

This is primarily where I see horses struggling with upward fixation of the patella as well as needing elbow and stifle injections.

4.) Is his underneck tight with a restricted jugular groove (the line down the under neck) or is it soft and relaxed wifh a pronounced groove?

The latter is what you’re looking for and is also a clue into healthy circulation and nerve function.

5.) Does he have a neutral spine or spine that’s negative in angle?

A neutral spine will give you the most sound back and support being ridden.

A spine that is negative in angle is causing unnecessary crushing of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae as well as causing massive dysfunction to the iliopsoas as it is having to work in overdrive to stabilize the spine.

This is primarily where I see arthritic changes to C6/C7, kissing spines, brachial plexus and lumbosacral plexus nerve compression symptoms.

If we want horses that are balanced in the mind, we must take the time to balance them in the body.


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