Yesterday I went to a new barn (for me) to work on horses I knew nothing about. I got there early and walked down the aisle. All the horses seemed very friendly and curious (a good sign!). I stopped to look at one horse in his stall. He was obviously a thoroughbred. Lovely head and shoulder, but his hind end did not match. He had a hunter’s bump and a very flat and contracted rump. I wondered if he might have an injury and guessed his age at around 10-12.
The client arrived. I worked on a young Swedish stallion that was pretty close to perfection. He had a couple of tight muscles, but was so fluid and supple that there wasn’t much for me to do. He was also very calm and content and obviously well trained.
I asked who was next, and it was the gelding I had been looking at. He was just 6 years old and had only been in training for 6 months. I watched him walk on circles and a straight line, and told the client I was not sure if I could help him as he might need several sessions with a chiropractor first. I checked his entire spine and there was no problem there. His back muscles were fine. The gluteal muscles were extremely tight as well as the semimembranosus (inside of the hind leg). I focused my efforts there with every kind of release and muscle fiber spreading in my repertoire.
The horse held his breath as I worked. There was a lot of tension in his face and in his hind end. But I kept working and what happened next was wonderful and exciting. His hind end started looking rounder and rounder. The very tight muscles on the inside of his legs started to plump up.(remember: everything is connected!) It was a long session, but by the end, his rear end looked very different. He may need more help in releasing muscles that may have been tight for a long period of time, but I think this will be a wonderful horse for anyone to ride. His temperament is exemplary! I would like a whole barn full of him!
The stifle is the equivalent of the human knee, and just like our knees, the stifle is prone to injury. It is a large and complex joint with bones and cartilage and ligaments. It is the largest synovial joint, which means it is filled with fluid.
I have an equine client who periodically goes off on the left hind. The first time it happened, the vet came out , identified it as a stifle issue, and said he wasn’t too worried about it. But the horse was still lame for a couple of weeks. There was soreness and swelling in the area. This horse has a wicked buck, a mild rear, and he plays roughly with the horse in the stall next door. So the injury could have happened anywhere, anytime. Eventually, he got better, went back to work. And then it happened again. Here is what the owner and I have come up with to keep this crazy guy sound:
Regular cold laser of the stifle area. We see immediate relief and improvement.
Traumeel: the owner slathers it on the area daily.
Massage. The gluteus and the tensor fascia latae muscles need to be supple for the stifle to move smoothly. The biceps femoris also is responsible for moving the stifle, and I showed the owner how to keep it moving freely, as we found a few knots during his session.
Knock on wood! My red headed friend is competing this weekend at Twin Rivers. I am not there, but I worked on him on Wednesday evening and he was in perfect shape for the event.
Update: They scored 28.6 in dressage at Training Level. She reports he was happy and rhythmic.
When there is a problem with back pain in your horse, the gluteus accessorius should be checked. This muscle works with the gluteus muscle in moving the hip and thigh. The stress point will be a knot felt near the pelvic crest. The horse will have a reaction when pressure is put on this stress point. Usually the rider will have noticed a shortened stride or discomfort in the hip and back. Since this is a stress point that seems to occur regularly during the competition season, it is one I always work on during a bodywork session, whether symptoms have developed or not.