1. Cardiac: involuntary cardiac muscle specializes in powerfully and efficiently pumping blood during throughout your horse’s entire lifespan. The heart muscle is intrinsically regulated by the heart’s own internal pacemaker system, allowing the heart to adjust its rate and force of contraction in response to changes in the body’s metabolic demands, such as during exercise or stress. The heart muscle does not tire.
2. Smooth: involuntary muscle of the automatic systems (digestive system, for example). The nervous system uses hormones, neurotransmitters, and other receptors to control smooth muscle spontaneously. Unlike skeletal muscle, smooth muscle is capable of maintaining tone for extended periods and contracts involuntarily. For simplicity, the basic functions of smooth muscle in the organ systems include the gastrointestinal tract (propulsion of the food bolus), renal (regulation of urine flow), respiratory tract (regulation of bronchiole diameter), integument (raises hair with erector pili muscle), sensory (dilation and constriction of the pupil).
3. Skeletal Muscle: Skeletal muscles are attached to bones and are responsible for movement, posture and stability. They are called voluntary muscles because they are under conscious control. Contraction of these muscles pulls on a bone and results in either flexing or extending a joint. Skeletal muscles are usually arranged in pairs, with one flexing the and the other extending it. One muscle of the pair must be relaxed in order for the other muscle in the pair to contract and bend the joint properly. There are over 700 skeletal muscles in your horse’s body, with some muscles being responsible for powerful movements, while others are more involved in fine motor control.
Although cardiac, smooth and skeletal muscles have different functions, they work together to produce coordinated movement and bodily functions so your horse can thrive.
You can help your horse thrive and improve care of all the muscles in their body through the use of regular massage.