Spinal Reflexes

Spinal reflexes are characterized by predictable movements to an external stimulus; like tapping someone on the patellar tendon and observing reflex knee extension. Specific neck, back or pelvic movements can be observed with sharp pressure applied along either to top, side or ventral midline of horses. As the stimulus is applied in either a single point or linearly, the amount of induced spinal movement and the quality of the motion is closely observed.

Linear stimulation along the side of the neck typically produces an avoidance response characterized by head and neck movement away from the site of stimulation. Point stimulation along the ventral midline of the trunk or abdomen induces a reflex elevation and linear stimulation along the dorsal midline or laterally along the back muscular will induce sinking or lateral movement of the trunk. Linear stimulation along the dorsal aspect of the lumbosacral junction will induce extension and continued stimulation caudally past the tail head will induce lumbosacral flexion.

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