Tag Archives: hip

It’s All Connected!

Over the weekend I worked on a client who is a very easy keeper. When he is ridden daily he can keep his weight under control, but as soon as the summer is over and his rider goes back to school, he plumps up. He has so much padding that it is often hard for me to feel his pelvic crest (otherwise known as hip bones) where many muscles attach. It is important for me to feel where the muscles attach, as that is where stress points form.

He looked quite stiff in his left hind, almost lame, and I found that the illiacus was unusually tight for him. No matter how I worked on it, I was not getting the release I hoped for. It seemed that there were too many layers between my hands and the muscle. So I decided to go higher and work on his gluteal muscles. He started licking his lips and relaxing when I did that, so I continued. Lo and behold, when I went back to the tight illiacus, it had softened. I watched him walk and he was back to his normal walk without the restricted look I had seen just an hour earlier.

For me, this was a wonderful reminder that the body must be looked at as a whole. When I focused on one small problem spot, I got nowhere. As soon as I had a more holistic approach, the problem was easily resolved.

Analyzing Problems in the Trot

If the horses head bobs while trotting, the head will go down when the leg in pain hits the ground.

Watching from behind: the hip that looks higher is the side where the problem is, since the hip will come up to relieve pressure.

A hind leg travels inside: There could be hock pain, low back pain, or muscle spasms of the semimembranosus.

Throws hind leg outwards: There could be pain in the stifle or hip, or spasms in the tensor fascia latae.

The front leg travels inside: there could be knee pain, or tight pectoral muscles.

The front leg arcs out: there could be back or shoulder pain, or spasms in the spinatus muscles. (see first diagram)

Short stride in front: spasm in the triceps.

Short stride behind: if it is on one side, there could be a problem with that hip. If both hind legs are short and tight, there could be a problem with the sacroiliac joint, or the muscles surrounding that joint.

Many of the problems described here can be resolved through massage, cold laser, and/or chiropractic treatment.



Case Study of a Multi Talented Horse

I went to watch the dressage lesson of a regular client. I noticed her horse was having a hard time bending right, and his right hip was much higher than the left. We scheduled an appointment for a few days later. The owner told me that the horse had had a chiropractic adjustment a week ago, but I checked all the obvious places, like his spine and rib cage, to see if I could find the cause for the bending problem first. Every bone seemed perfectly balanced and in line, except for his pelvis. He had what is called a pelvic rotation misalignment. The owner told me the horse had some wild play time in turnout, which was a good clue. If a horse slips, or bucks hard, or falls, there goes your chiropractic adjustment! I picked up the hind leg of the lower side, lifted gently, and held it as long as I could (this horse is big! a draft/warmblood cross!). I had the owner walk him away from me. There was an improvement, but not enough, so I moved on to looking for stress points. Bingo! I found a huge stress point where the long back muscles and gluteals meet. And diagonally there were stress points at the costarum, which is a major side flexor. The horse closed his eyes, chewed, and gave a big exhale. Watching him walk away showed a big improvement. He was not 100% square, so I will check him in a couple of days. It might take two treatments, but we caught the problem early. As for the bending issue: once the pelvis is level, bending becomes easy once again.

The photos are not great. Taken on a dark and stormy day.

Before body work

Before body work. Stiff and uneven.

After body work

After body work. Pelvis is level and he’s bending more.


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Does Your Horse Track Straight With the Hind Legs?

Don’t worry about pronouncing the name of this muscle: tensor fascia latae. But if you notice that your horse is throwing his hind leg out instead of tracking under, it could be that this stress point is in spasm. (No. 7 in the diagram). The tensor fascia latae flexes theĀ  hip and extends the stifle. It also is very active in lateral work, so when you feel resistance there, it may be time for some body work. This muscle does not get as much blood supply as a more fibrous muscle, so it is prone to getting tight. The tensor fascia latae works in partnership with the semitendinosus, so a balance between the two muscles is crucial for even and free movement.

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