Pandiculations – systemic, symmetrical stretches in which the horse contracts a muscle, or group of muscles, then slowly releases those contractions back to neutral are a stationary form of kinesis (noun – movement; motion).
Pandiculations appear to be part of how the central nervous system prepares the horse to move and respond to their environment after a rest period. Actions often include flexion of the throat, arching of the neck, straightening of the back, elevation and movement of the tail, and extension of the limbs, either singly or together. Yawning is considered a special type of pandiculation that affects the musculature of the mouth, respiratory system and upper spine.
Pandiculations seem to strengthen the connection between the sensory motor cortex and the myofascial system. They are also considered an expression of well-being, especially in foals. Healthy foals average about 40 to 50 pandiculations per day, in various forms, both recumbent or upright positions.
Pandiculation may have a role in the auto-regulation of the locomotor system, developing and maintaining appropriate physiological interconnections and modulating the pre-stress state of the myofascial system by regularly activating the slow twitch musculature and resetting the balance of the musculoskeletal system. Pandiculations induced by massage may be the central nervous system incorporating the changes being made to the myofascial system during the massage.