When you buy an off the track Thoroughbred, you can be sure you are getting a horse with speed and stamina, even if the horse was not a winner on the track.
Thoroughbreds to have long and lean muscles and tendons. The two stress points that I find the most on horses coming from the track are in the neck and around the sacrum. Some horses have had lactic acid build-up and are sore all over.
It is a good idea to give your horse a session of Stress Point Therapy and relaxation massage before beginning his new career.
Have you ever been surprised by how tightly your horse can clamp down with his tail? This tightness is symptomatic of tension in the lumbar and sacrum regions. Causes can be jumping in difficult footing, getting the tail stuck in a fence, a saddle that does not fit causing bruising and pain from rubbing the lumbar area, or accumulated stiffness from age or compensation. When the muscles and fascia are in a healthy state, the tail should freely lift up and over the back. The tail should hang symmetrically and swing freely. Check the tail if you are having trouble with lateral movement. A stiff tail will affect the movement of the haunches and lumbar area.
Myofascial release is very effective for tightness of the tail. It might take a while for the horse to move in freedom again. Muscle memory is a powerful thing when an animal is trying to avoid pain, so be patient when incorporating bending and lateral work after this kind of bodywork.
The word sacrum is derived from the word “sacred”. There are cultures and religions that still consider the sacrum the seat of the soul. The sacrum is located close to the reproductive organs and the center of gravity. It forms the base of the spine and the “anchor” of the hind end. (I will discuss the atlas, the other anchor, in another post). The sacrum of the horse is formed by five vertebrae. A balanced sacrum will positively affect the hind legs and lumbar area.
If you find your horse sensitive to the touch in his lower back or sacrum, or you feel his stride is shorter than usual, it may be time for bodywork. A refusal to turn quickly or jump will be the next set of signs that your horse is feeling pain in the sacral area. You may notice an asymmetrical appearance to the hips, with one lower than the other, or a ” hunter’s bump”. Many people consider the bump to be normal for jumping horse, but it actually signifies an injury. Chiropractic treatment combined with sports massage can provide pain relief, restored movement, and prevention of more serious injury.