One of the major causes of reduced performance in many different types of equestrian horses is lower back pain. Sacroiliac ligament strain and joint sprain, stress fractures and chronic arthritic pain account for 50% of all back injuries. Some of the symptoms which indicate that your horse may have suffered a sacroiliac injury include pulling or lugging to one side, or an inability to work on a circle or bend correctly. Additionally, many horses will drag their toes on one or both hind limbs when walking, or work with one hind leg swinging under the hind quarters. The physical appearance of a 'hunters bump' or a prominent sacrum area is also a possible indicator.
Often it can be difficult to diagnose the exact cause of your horse's back pain. Dr John Kohnke recommends that an examination of the sacroiliac region by pain reaction to deep finger palpation around the dorsal sacroiliac ligament attachments is an indicator, as well as ultrasound scanning to determine the presence of ligament damage. Additionally, infiltration of local anaesthetic into the area to evaluate pain relief can also be used to identify the injury area. Unfortunately, there rarely seems to be a simple single cure that will alleviate the problem and consequently we recommend a combination of rest, massage and specific exercises to help aid the healing process. Firstly, if the sacroiliac injury has just occurred, the horse will need to be rested and kept quiet to allow local inflammation and discomfort to subside. Long periods of rest beyond 30-45 days are contra-indicated because the back muscles and associated ligament structures need to be "worked" to improve flexibility and strength. Secondly, to help relax muscle spasms in the rump area it is recommended to massage the area from the hip bones up to the sacroiliac area using a firm kneading action with closed fists. Finally, this is followed by walking the horse in hand over 3 poles on the ground, spaced 1 ½ to 2 horse lengths apart at a 45-degree angle. This can be done in a figure 8 pattern over the poles 4-5 times which will help to flex and twist the sacral and pelvic area which will assist in strengthening the sacroiliac ligaments.
Supplementing with Kohnkes Own Muscle XL will assist recovery