Range of Motion
The horse should move freely in all ranges of motion with no tension both under saddle and from the ground.
1. Ask the horse to bend his head and neck to touch its nose to cinch area on each side. Does the horse resist more on one side? This could indicate a subluxation of the neck.
2. Test the lateral bend of the horse’s back by pulling on the tail with one hand as the other hand rests on the tops of the vertebra. Is one side stiffer than the other?
3. Apply moderate downward pressure on back. The back should flex and dip slightly and not feel tight and rigid.
Examine the major muscles of the horse for pain, tone, and symmetry. Horses in condition should display muscles of good tone that are symmetrical from one side to the other. The muscles should be firm without being too hard or too soft. Muscles should not be painful to moderate pressure of palpation.
Palpate down the spine for prominent elevations or bumps. Compare the two prominences at the top of the hips; they should be level. Notice any bumps in the neck.