Equine Anatomy Nerd Moment #1

I spent Mother’s Day morning enjoying the cool and chilly start to the day in the pasture with the herd of four.  While my yearling Sweet busied himself hopping around trying to get either human or equine to play “pokey-face” with him, the two elders wandered over in greeting.  Noble Checkers, our 30+ year old leader, put himself in my hands way, his signal that a morning massage would serve him.  No, with arthritic hocks and stifles, he does not need to be tied to stand for massage!

As I joyfully massaged this proud horse I looked around and took in how beautiful the others horses looked as they have nearly finished shedding out.  Having lost their winter weight they are sleek and muscular.  Stunning.

Then I snickered.  I was focused on one particular muscle that, when I was learning my trade, I had many questions about.  As I am a science and physiology nerd, I thought I’d share it with you, in case anyone else has interest in the pieces and parts of their horse’s musculature.

The “serratus ventralis thoracis” is a muscle that appears much smaller than you’d think given the length of it’s name. Most of it is hidden, only a portion of it is accessible to the hands of a massage therapist, yet it is a very important muscle to be worked on.

This muscle has a great deal to do with the movement of the horse’s shoulder blade.  It can be impacted by both riding and saddle fit, something to consider if it is sore.  But the reason I’m writing about this part of the horse today is that I’ve had several owners wonder what muscle I was working on as they thought that part of their horse was chub.  I thought about it and it made sense to me.  The serratus ventralis thoracis (SVT) is felt as a thick lump behind the horses shoulder, below where the saddle would end but above the chest.  I guess it can be mistaken for a “muffin top.”  I get a kick out of being able to affirm that horses with a prominent SVT are not in need of a diet plan!  Kinda feel like a horse hero given how much mine like every speck of grain they get…

Hope this is of interest to you and you go off in search of your horse’s SVT.

Happy spring,


Author: rutamazelis

Who I am Every horse benefits from therapeutic massage. Every horse matter to me. I have long understood the importance of muscular health for comfort and performance. As a physical therapist, with an interest in sports medicine, I served people. After rescuing and rehabilitating my first horse, nearly 10 years ago, I knew I wanted to practice equine massage therapy. I witnessed the healing it promoted in my horses and am determined to offer my services to as many other horses as I can. It is an honor and a delight to work on your horse. Ruta

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