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How the Hyoid Bone Affects Performance

The tongue bone!

For a horse to move well in their front and hind-end, he/she must have a relaxed and happy mouth! The hyoid bone in relation to your horse’s performance:

The horse’s tongue attaches to the hyoid bone. The hyoid bone is suspended from the temporal bones at the base of the skull. It provides support for the pharynx and larynx and plays a role in the lingual process (Pamela Blades 2017).

There are muscles connecting the hyoid to the sternum (the sternohyoid), the shoulders (the omohyoid) and the forelegs (the omothyroid).

The omohyoid and omothyroid extend from the throat to the top of the forelegs and connects the sternum and pectoral muscles. This muscle chain connects through the pectoral muscles and abdominal muscles to the pelvis – creating a direct muscular connection between the horse’s mouth and hindlegs. When the horse stretches his head, neck and mouth, and chews softly, he is activating the “under muscle chain” (Harris).

Tightness in the hyoid area can create tightness in the shoulders which results in shortened strides. Tightness can be caused by rough hands, overly constricted nose bands or throat latches, severe bits, draw/side reins, sharp teeth, etc. (Pamela Blades, 2017)

I dedicate time in my myofascial release sessions to releasing the hyoid and the structures around it! The horses appreciate it.


Harris, Susan E. The Anatomy of Movement. Retrieved from

Pamela Blades Eckelbarger. (2017, September 25). [Facebook photo post] Retrieved from

Photo of jaw sketch retrieved from

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