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FALL 2016

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Reported Problem:

My client complained her horse was heavy in his left rein and had difficulty bending his head and neck to the right. The horse actually visually cocked his head slightly to the left. The client also reported the horse would actually have difficulty in such movements as shoulder in right and lateral movements or any movement that required the head and neck releasing to and travel easily to the right..


1. I typically have the handler lead a horse at the walk in a straight line away from me and back toward me. I get the best view of muscle function at the walk. I look for restrictions in motion and the ease of motion.

2. I always ask the rider, or trainer what is the problem in motion or performance, and what they think might be causing the problem.

3. I palpate the muscles of the horse to determine if there are obvious tightness or spasms in the horse’s body.

The above options are the three ways I take information in to formulate a plan using the Wilson Meagher Method of Equine Sportsmassage.

Cause and Solutions:


After my assessment, I began to work on the horse. I felt a very tight muscle with a large spasm in his left poll muscle named the Rectus Capitus Lateralis.

All muscles pull. They have two ends and a middle. One end is attached to one bone and is called the anchor which stabilizes the muscle - see the photo on the upper right.



The other end attaches to another bone and is called the insertion where the motion occurs - see the photo on the left.

The middle is called the belly which is the power of the muscle - see the photo on the right.

The Wilson Meagher Method focuses on all three parts of the muscle and uses three specific soft tissue techniques to eliminate muscle tightness and restore the ease of motion. I worked on all of the parts of the muscle and found the major cause of the problem at the origin which was in spasm restricting the horse’s ability to bend his head and neck to the right. This tightness caused the horse to be heavy in the rider’s left rein.

I also learned that the horse was lunged daily for the past few weeks and mainly going to the right on the circle. When a horse is lunged on a circle he has to tighten the muscles on the outside of the circle, such as the left poll to balance going to the right. Therefore, I think the lunging to the right may have contributed to the left poll tightness. I suggested the rider long line the horse or vary the direction of lunging and to diminish the time he was lunged.

I worked on the horse’s poll using the three sportsmassage techniques of the Wilson Meagher Method. The muscle released and softened immediately. I taught the rider one of the sportsmassage techniques I used on the muscle. The technique I taught was Compressions on the belly of the poll muscle to maintain muscle pliability and ease of motion - see photo on the lower left.


Once the muscle was loosened, the rider rode the horse and was very happy to discover her horse was even in the reins and was able to bend the head and neck in both directions easily!

For further reading about Poll, see this article written by Jo-Ann Wilson with Sandra Cooke Practical Horseman on the Poll: The Problem Could Be His POLL, Practical Horseman, January 2014 (click article title to view PDF version) .


To learn about how to apply the techniques and other reasons for poll tightness you are invited to:

1. You may download the article by Jo-Ann Wilson with Sandra Cooke in Practical Horseman on the Poll: The Problem Could Be His POLL, Practical Horseman, January 2014 (click title to view PDF version). 

2. See DVD page on our web site and order DVD: A Course in Equine Sportsmassage.

3. See online training video regarding Poll tightness and motion problems: Here's a link to our Training Videos Page!


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