updated: 2022-02-09 10:17:30

Some of the symptoms of a tight Poll

  • Resisting a bend in a certain direction
  • Feeling reluctant to step through from behind
  • Tilting or leaning of the head when on the bit
  • Feeling heavier in one rein than the other
  • Stopping at fences or appearing "nervous"

  • The Poll as an area comprises of bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, nerves and a variety of fluid and blood vessels. The main muscle we will be concentrating on for this post is the group known as the Rectus Capitis, located either side of the horse's neck behind the ear (see picture).
    The three muscles that make up the group attach to three of the cervical vertebrae, up to 8 inches further down the neck from the poll, with their insertion point at the base of the skull (Occiput), this is the point where the muscle group creates motion. When working together they allow the horse to flex it's head down to it's chest, however independent movement results in an incline to the left or right.
    If you think of the motion of a horse's body as a wave that starts in the hind end and flows through to the neck and head, with the poll being the end, you can see how tension in the poll or anywhere can interrupt the wave. The effects of this interruption can be seen throughout the body. It can lead to compromised use of the back therefore shortening their step, tightness in the RHS of the Poll can show through diagonal compensation in the left hind (and vice versa) and tension in the Poll can be the secondary issue used to flag up the deeper problem due to using the poll area to compensate for balance.

    What are the causes?

    Surprisingly enough there are a number of common day-to-day activities that can result in a tight poll. These include stretching/tilting the head under the fence to reach grass, "friendly" play that results in the pulling of a head collar from another equine and hay nets/bags. Alongside these you have dentistry issues, cribbing, having a horse that pulls back when tied up, prolonged or continuous over-lunging on a small circle, uneven rein tension and the incorrect use of some training aids.

    How can it be relieved?

    Once tension of the poll is identified it is crucial to discover the true issue that caused it. When massaging or pulsing a horse this is why your therapist will look at the entire body, piecing together all the information as they go. Poll tightness can take a number of treatments to resolve, especially if the tension is found much further afield. The is one of the main reasons that when using PEMF Pulse Equine we pulse the whole pathway, allowing the body to find its own equilibrium. Carrot stretches, correct bridle/headcollar fitting and careful management can help reduce the likelihood of your horse developing Poll tension.


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