Horse Problems Database - Head and Neck - How to check the TMJ for correct movement

Do you have any weird horse stories? I'd love to hear them. Just reply to this email. If we get some good ones, I'll share the best next week.

The other day I worked on this little bay mare, Rosa.

As we walked over to get her out of the pipe-corral pen, she was standing there....just resting her teeth on the top pipe.

I've seen plenty of horses lick pipes (usually a mineral deficiency). But not one that just rests teeth on the pipe.

I did ask the owner if that was a normal behavior for her. I got, "Yep. That's Rosa."

Long story short, Rosa was resting her teeth because her TMJs were terribly tight and stuck.
Resting on her teeth put backwards pressure on the TMJ and made them feel better.

How can you check the TMJ?


The lower jaw should move freely. That is, separately from the skull. The TMJs (temporomandibular joints) connect the lower jaw to the skull.

Try moving your jaw with your hand. Cup your hand so the thumb is on one side and forefinger on the other.

The jaw should move side to side with light pressure from your hand. If you keep your jaw relaxed and/or with mouth slightly open, that will help.

Keep in mind that your head should not move.

The jaw should also move the same distance to each side, right and left.

If one side doesn't move, or hurts, or pops, or is stiff, etc. -➝that's a misaligned TMJ.

If neither side hardly moves or is painful-➝that's both sides misaligned TMJ.

You can do the same test on the horse. Just gently ask the lower jaw to move right to left with your hand. Keep in mind the head should not move.

If the head moves WITH the jaw movement, then the TMJs are locked up. (Or there could be a dental issue)

With Rosa, the TMJ was easy to fix with TBT energy work. You should have seen Rosa yawn and yawn! And blink and blink with her eyes even rolling back in her head (in a good way) lol

And then she quit resting her teeth on the pipe.

Please let me know your weirdest horse story!

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