Muscle Tone in the Equine Athlete
Muscle tone refers to the degree of tension in the muscles, even at rest. Each animal has a unique basic muscle tone, which may range from low to high. Very supple horses usually have low muscle tone–thei movement is thus free and loose-whereas horses with high muscle tone usually have short, choppy movement. Muscle tone is increased through excercise, tension and anxiety.
Biomechanics-the mechanical principles by which a living body functions
The importance of stretching
The objects of muscle stretching are to improve performance by maintaining or regaining optimum mobility and suppleness, and to reduce injury by reducing the tension on joints, tendons, muscles and ligaments.
Competition horses are athletes and as such, they need to have their maximum potential developed. When training horses for athletic or gymnastic performance it is essential to keep them free from injury. Maintaining suppleness in a competition horse is an important element in preventing strain injuries. Doing passive, as well as active, stretch exercises will maintain suppleness in the horse. The muscular problems experienced by horses in competition have similarities to those experienced by their human counterparts. These problems are caused by the strain and exertion required in pushing the athlete to ever greater levels of achievement.
Take the time to stretch your horse after a work out and learn his range of motion and normal stiffness. Awareness will help you prevent injuries in the future while creating a stronger bond between you and your horse.