What is Proprioception?

What is Proprioception?

This is a mechanism by which neuromuscular information is fed back to the brain and informs us and our horses where our bodies and limbs are in space.

In a way this is a mechanism by which a 3D image is created for the horse or rider. When you stand on one leg with your eyes open you are likely to be able to manage this and you may wobble a little, when you close you eyes you are likely to wobble a lot or not be able to stand safely on one leg. This is made even worse when you stand on a pillow. When you complete these simple exercises it’s easy to understand how proprioception works. Proprioception is not about ‘seeing’ it’s about ‘feeling’. A normal human or equine brain receives proprioceptive signals from the body through specific cells that are called muscle spindles, Golgi organs and joint angle receptors.

1. Muscle spindles are highly sensitive and can tell our brain about the length of a muscle as we move and the speed of that lengthening process. If this system did not exist we would need to look at our legs as we move.

2. Golgi organs are located in tendons (which join muscle to bone) and monitor muscle tension, thereby allowing us to increase or decrease tension to remain balanced and upright.

3. Joint angle receptors as the name suggest are located at joints and they tell us about how joint angles change as we move along different surfaces, terrains and gradients. They are essential in helping to remain balanced and to protect joints from damage.

So what’s the big deal about proprioception?
It’s pretty clear that without it or when it is not well tuned movement and balance become compromised. The down side is that poorly tuned proprioception prevents joints from loading correctly; in effect leading to micro-damage of the joint. If this continues long enough joints will suffer degenerative joint disease at a greater rate than if this system had been working effectively. When horses are not worked on varied surfaces, terrains or gradients we effectively turn off the protective benefit of proprioception. This highlights the importance of cross training our horses regardless of discipline…not only does it protect your horses joints but it also makes for a better and more balanced equine athlete.

Like proprioreception, Joint Performance Equine Joint Support Formula 2 assists in future proofing your horse’s joint health.