Dissection & Boomerang Biomechanics

It's been a long while since I have had time to write a Blog - but with so much to tell you I wanted to make time to squeeze one in. There is so much to tell you it will take two or three Blogs!!

At the end of March I was lucky enough to spend 3 days dissecting a horse with the amazing Sharon May-Davis. I had been lucky enough to see her speak at the Horses Inside Out International Conference last year - so I knew I wanted to hear more. Sharon May-Davis is passionate and dedicated living legend in the area of Equine Anatomy, Biomechanics, muscoloskeleton and dissections. She is also widely known as a therapist and scientist of the equine species. For over 35 years, Sharon has been travelling all over the world to work with therapists, trainers, riders and top competition horses in order to get a deeper understanding of the horse and to improve its well-being.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about dissection of a whole horse. I have done parts before but not a whole body. I was worried I would be upset or not cope with the smell. Luckily there was no bad smell as it was very cold in the barn, and once I had got my head around why I was there I managed to shut off a bit from the emotional side of what we were doing and focus on the great learning opportunity in front of me. Sharon and her team are so hugely respectful of the horse, laying flowers on him - it is very dignified.

The horse we had was a very big bay 17hh+. He had been very much loved by his owner - nicely shod, well maintained teeth, and a nice healthy weight. All we knew about him was he had suffered an unexpected trauma. We started at the head end working out his age putting him in his early teens. What was humbling through-out was how much we could keep learning even after the horse has passed. There was so much the horse could tell us!
What was very interesting in the face was understanding that muscles don't always connect to bone they connect to ligaments and fascia. Fascia is noticeable throughout the whole body. A shiny, silver film covering every part of the horses body. It makes you realise how much horses would benefit from myofascia release when there is a block as its connected throughout.

There were a few major areas that stood out for me throughout the dissection - some were mind blowing and I think about them daily when I work with horses. Obviously the Fascia and its significance through-out the body. But a major reminder to me was the cartilage behind the scapula - it was so thin. My finger nail is about the same in thickness as the cartilage. If you fit a saddle without giving the scapula room you have the strong potential of damaging that thin cartilage forever. It is not something that will grow back and will be painful for the horse. Saddles fitted too tight in front cause a short stride because the horse is protecting its scapula and the fragile cartilage. Saddlers that insert many shims, or much flocking in the front of saddles to stop them from moving forwards are causing more damage than they realise - it's one of the worst things you can do to that horse. And sadly I hate to say it - but I see too much of this happening.

The other 2 major things that speak to me every day was the effect of different bits and nosebands on the deceased horse. This is quite unbelievable. We placed different bits in the horses mouth whilst each of us flexed the hind-leg. We tried several bits from the curb to a few different snaffles. With pressure on the horses mouth as you would when you ride we assessed the fluidity of the hind-leg flexion. Some of us were thinking the curb may have the biggest negative impact. Believe it or not the bit that stopped the horse from being able to flex its hind-leg almost completely was the single jointed snaffle (nut cracker effect). It was significantly harder to get any flexion.
After trying bits we tried nosebands - we have all read research studies about nosebands tightness and types. Well it is absolutely true to say in a deceased horse with no living feeling - the flash noseband has the most detrimental effect on the horses hind leg flexion. It was shocking to feel the impact it has. Whatever you take from this - if you can ditch the flash noseband please do it. Your horse will thank you and he will definitely be able to come through from behind with more comfort and ease.

There was so much to learn from this beautiful animal and we were all so humbled by his teachings. Sharon revealed a broken rib and much deep muscle damage throughout the back end of the horse. It was very sad but also an amazing experience to gradually understand more about why he was there with us and not with his loving owner.

Following my days of dissection my hunger to want to understand more led me again to think about how my knowledge can deepen - I have been thinking for a long time about research and how I can understand more what the horse needs to be a sound, happy athlete. There is much you can see with the eye and from video but to have a more in-depth way of identifying changes and report on them can be so beneficial. So with this in mind I went searching for a answers that can help. I found the best one (I think) and am learning how to use it. It is a very complex piece of Kit that will analyse the biomechanics of horse and rider. It will enable me to analyse the horse and rider then produce a report to back my findings. I can look at what horses like and don't. Foot balance, lameness issues, rider balance, changes in the horse, preference in tack and the list goes on really. This new arm to CUOMO Saddles is Boomerang Biomechanics names for 2 reasons - firstly because I believe what you do with your horse ultimately comes back to you and secondly named after my horse Boomerang who has taught me more about the love and kindness of the horse than any other horse I have known.

Thanks for taking the time to read and if you have any questions feel free to message me.