THE CYCLE OF CROOKEDNESS
Crookedness for me, means that the horse is not loading his body evenly because his body is not aligned (straight). The shoulders are not in front of the hindquarters, the ribs are bulging more one way and he is unable to balance the push and carry of his limbs.
Spinal rotation; as with us, horses always want to keep their eyes level. When there is an alignment problem through the body, the spine will rotate left and right the entire way from poll to tail. Imagine you are twisting a towel to wring it out, this is what the spine does to compensate for an imbalance of push and carry.
An Imbalance of Muscular Tension: overloaded muscles become dysfunctional and sit alongside underused and weak muscles, creating an imbalance of tension.
An Imbalance of Joint Mobility; Muscles are responsible for moving bones from one position to another. Bones are able to move because of moveable joints.
When there is an imbalance of muscular tension affecting a bone, the joint is not fully supported and will therefore reduce its mobility to protect itself.
An inability to be supple; joints that do not move through their full range of movement are stiff, not supple. Can’t get inside bend? Your horse cannot be supple until he is straight.
Whole Body Tension; When individual joints are unable to move correctly, the whole system has to compensate. A body in compensation mode is full of negative tension.
Damage to vulnerable structures; tendons, ligaments, cartilage, vertebrae. Tension means structures are unable to cope with the LOAD they are expected to carry.
Wear and tear, strains and inflammation will arise.
PAIN; This is the first stage we may be aware that the horse has been in trouble; normally first shows as a loss of performance and/or undesirable behaviour.
Further Muscular Imbalance: as soon as the horse feels pain, more soft tissues will switch off, taking the body further into a cycle of imbalance and compensation.
Instability of vertebrae and joints
Which sets the scene for injury and lameness
The need for straightness training cannot be underestimated, and it is something that has to be revisited every single day.