3 Tem­poro­mandibu­lar joint (TMJ)

Your Horse (UK) - - Horse Care -

The tem­poro­mandibu­lar joint is the junc­tion of the lower jaw (mandible) with the skull, and it has the most pro­pri­o­cep­tive nerves in your horse’s en­tire body. It con­trib­utes to his spa­tial aware­ness-pro­pri­o­cep­tive nerve end­ings, which make him aware of his move­ment and space around him. When your horse can’t move his lower jaw, he’ll strug­gle with his body aware­ness, which re­sults in poor move­ment and per­for­mance. This joint also al­lows the move­ment of the lower jaw on the up­per jaw, so your horse can:

Chew from side to side

Open his mouth to eat and yawn

Open up his air­ways via the for­ward move­ment of the lower jaw on the up­per jaw as his head flexes.

Parts of the bri­dle to look at

If you fas­ten your horse’s nose­band too tightly he’ll be un­able to move his jaw. This can hap­pen what­ever type of nose­band you use, so look at loos­en­ing the nose­band by a hole or two. Also, ques­tion whether he re­ally needs a flash nose­band, for ex­am­ple, and con­sider try­ing him in a sim­ple caves­son in­stead. While on the topic of nose­bands, if it’s in­cor­rectly po­si­tioned it can re­strict your horse’s breath­ing by clos­ing his nos­trils. A horse is an ob­li­gate nos­tril breather and can­not breathe through his mouth. In ad­di­tion, a tight nose­band can com­press the mu­cous mem­branes of the mouth against your horse’s teeth, re­sult­ing in dis­com­fort or even pain.

Ef­fect on your horse

If this area is com­pro­mised it’ll have a mas­sive im­pact on his way of go­ing. It can af­fect his bal­ance and he may strug­gle with lat­eral move­ments. To try to re­lieve the tension in his muscles, your horse may go be­hind the bit, hol­low­ing his back and short­en­ing his stride.

The tight­ness of his nose­band may af­fect your horse’s abil­ity to do lat­eral work

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