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Hind End Problems

Weak muscles in the hind-end can cause all sorts of problems in horses. Let's discuss some common issues:

Horse Hind end

Roach Back

A problem in the stifle can ultimately cause a roach back. Because the stifle effects the psoas (a deep connective muscle from rib through pelvis), a weak psoas directly connects to a roach back. The stifle can also effect the hip joint in addition to the nerves in the hip. Also, problems in the lumbar spine including nerve compression in the third lumbar, have an impact on the hip and stifle.

Let's dive a bit deeper; literally, anatomically speaking.

The medial patella ligament is a complex set of tissues in and around the horses's knee. The Sartorius is a muscle in the groin. The medial patella ligament and Sartorius connect and run into the liliaceous, one of the muscles that make up the greater "psoas". The liliaceous is a big muscle that runs under the tuber coxae of the pelvis. Psoas Major and Psoas Minor nerves innervate through the third lumbar. When a horse develops a roach back, the third lumbar is more obvious in the horse.

For treatment (especially while training), it is important to take good care of the Sartorius muscle.


Sciatica in horses is a very misunderstood issue and it may occur due to changes in the horses’ pelvis or lower back.

The sciatic nerve branches down and through the hip to the hind leg. Branches of the sciatic nerve include:

1. The cranial gluteal innervates the gluteals and TFL

2. The caudal gluteal nerve innervates the SG, Biceps Femoris and Hamstrings.

If a horse is suffering from sciatica, you may notice any of the following common signs or behavioral issues in response to the sciatic nerve pain:

· Bucking,

· Shivering,

· Tail swishing,

· Canter leads (crow hop)

· Kicking out,

· Stringhalt (romper-room high heels),

· Wobblers & Shivers,

· Crookedness,

· Canter issues (collection),

· Difficult to stand for farrier,

· Ewe neck, and possibly

· Dip in front of withers

About the hip:

The hip is the most mobile joint where the stifle is most movable joint. But the stifle is more limited in its range of motion (flexion, extension and slight outward rotation). Because the hip joint is so mobile, it is often recruited to compensate for an issue somewhere else. Therefore, hip joint rotations might be a secondary problem to hock, stifle and/or lower back dysfunctions. Horses with kissing spine, for example, will compensate with the hip because the part of the back that cannot move anymore due to fusion may result in horses walking like they are trying to move their hind legs around their back at the hip joint.

Hip Biomechanics:

· The femoral head articulates with the acetabulum of the pelvis form a ball and socket joint

· The hip is responsible for protraction and retraction of the entire limb during the walk

o Range of Motion: all directions (circumduction, flexion, extension, rotation, aBduction and aDduction)

· The hip is the pivot for the hind limb rotation

Equine Pilates and Equine Bodywork can work to correct and release some of the pains that horses can experience in their hind end. If you are noticing any signs of pain or behavioral changes in your horse, deep stretching and pressure point release from Equine Pilates and Bodywork may help.

To learn more about Horse Speak®, Equine Pilates and/or Reformer Pilates for Humans here in Aiken, head to Pilates Mastery. If you’re looking for Pilates near me, Pilates Mastery also offers virtual Pilates sessions if you are not local to Aiken, SC. You may book an Equine Pilates or a Horse Speak® session at:

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