SACROILIAC 1 (Re: video of Toba)


IMG_0055(Toba before his injury)

I am going to discuss the video of Toba, and what is happening in the video.

It looks like I am doing nothing, and the horse is just going real slow and kicking out.

I am actually asking a lot from Toba and he is in discomfort.

However, if I do not continue to ask him, he will be a permanent cripple out in the paddock.

Toba and I were in a head on car collision. I saw that the boy coming fast around a bend was going to be out of control, so I stopped the car and pulled over as far as I could go. This P plater drove straight in to us. I was not hurt at all, but with the impact –Toba split his head open on the front window of the float and with the force of the Impact- sat down on his dock .

For a long time, he compensated for his aches and pains -unbeknown to me of course until he could no longer hide his discomfort when ridden. So much involved with this case, so I will just summarize what is going on in the video.

  1. My uppermost thought is for him to have NO weight on the bit. None at all. He is to carry his head and neck himself. My only use of slight half halts is to remind him of this fact. If he continued to get heavy, I would halt him. He has to have proper neck posture.
  2. I am also thinking about absolute straightness as he would like to wobble out of a shoulder fore and use his body as he is now used to doing after a long time of compensation for the pain. I am very focused on keeping his thoracolumbar vertebrae straight with the correct rotation.
  3. I am asking him to move one step at a time. This encourages him to use his body properly.
  4. I am asking him for consistent activity of the hind legs.

I am asking Toba the above (constantly) ‘Can you ….? ‘And then go through the 5 points.

As you can see, Toba is finding it very hard to maintain all of the above. I quietly persist.

This is only a small segment of the ride in this video. I gave him lots of rest breaks and then continued around the arena. I used the fence to help with the above requests.

I will continue to ride Toba in this manner until he can maintain all of the above in the walk easily, and then try it at a very easy trot. It will take a long time, as it took a long time for him to show me that he is compensating in his body with his injuries.

It was not just a sudden display of discomfort. He gradually became worse to ride. He began shying, not wanting to go forward after being mounted. He was dragging himself along on his front end. Everything was hard work. He needs now to re learn how to balance himself using his whole body properly so that he can become sound.


ph: 0432 105 495


ABN: 51810845732









Function of the SIJ: 

The purpose of the SIJ is to transfer the thrust generated by the hind legs to the vertebral column. Considering this fact, the size of the joint is relatively small underlining the need for a very tight structure. This is also why the structure of the SIJ is so strong, and the movement in this area is very limited. The joint is designed for gliding movements. It is also designed for multidirectional movements- however the range of movement is miniscule and strongly resisted by the system of ligaments. 

Injuries to the SIJ: 

Recent research has suggested that Sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SIJD) is primarily a training disease. It may result from repeated ‘traumas’ rather than a single event – in that it is an outcome of repetitive abnormal stresses. In a few instances, dysfunction can occur from direct trauma. As with any joint, it is possible to sprain or overstretch the joint and its supporting ligaments. 

Diagnosis, Signs and Symptoms: 

No single manual test indicates for certainty the presence of SIJD. The diagnosis for SIJD is hard because the SIJ is out of reach of manual palpation. The joint is deep under the ilium and the very large mass of middle gluteal muscles, although Ultrasound, and Scintigraphy are now available in aiding diagnosis. 

The following can also be helpful in making a diagnosis: 

The first signs may be a loss of performance, reluctance to work or move forward, and mild lameness. The lameness may be unilateral or bilateral, or shifting from one side to another depending on whether one or both sides are involved. There is pain, so therefore there is a reluctance to move the hind legs. The horse will demonstrate short strides and if a jumper, may refuse to jump. The pain may subside, but a permanent limitation of normal leg movement may remain.

There can be behavioural changes- as the horse protects his body against physical pain.

Other signs or symptoms of SIJD can be:

The horse resists transitions

The horse swishes the tail when ridden

The horse drags his toes of the hind limbs

The horse is more comfortable taking one canter lead over another –if wanting to canter at all – may have difficulty in picking up the canter, in other words –preferring to walk and trot rather than canter.

Uneven hind-end take off when jumping.

Crow hopping

Cold- backed

The horse finds it hard to pick up hind feet for the farrier

History of hock soreness

Rider feels crooked, or saddle slips to one side


The rider is therefore probably the best therapy since the stability of the SIJ is directly related to the correctness of the horse’s locomotion. This will require coordination of the main back muscles of the horse and vertebral column, through a series of exercises performed in hand and under saddle.

For example: a slow walk in hand (one step at a time), a slow trot working towards the horse’s natural cadence (no pushing the horse to a so called ‘forward trot’)Lateral exercises completed correctly, like shoulder fore and shoulder in. The rider is focusing on recreating proper coordination and power between all the muscles acting on creating stability in the SIJ.


I have not gone into details here, but this is where also sports massage and other therapeutic modalities can help in the process of recovery in the horse. (No doubt it helped, and is helping Toba in his recovery).

Perhaps talk to a therapist in your area about your horse if they have a similar problem. The above signs and symptoms can also occur in other conditions. Note: Always consult a vet first if in doubt about a diagnosis


img_0208(Image is of Toba)


“A horse athletically prepared for the physical demand of the performance, remains sound” JLC (2) 

Kerryn Parker



  1. Blackwell, J ‘Basic Massage Techniques’ , Fineline printing ’Equistricare manual’ 2011
  2. (2) Cornille, J.L “Science of Motion”
  3. Denoix,J, M Pailloux JD ‘Physical Therapy and massage for the horse’, Manson publishing 2011
  4. (1) McGowan C, Goff L, & Stubbs N ‘Animal Physiotherapy’ Blackwell publishing 2007
  5. Kamen,Dr.Daniel R ‘the well adjusted horse’, Brookline Books Inc., 1999
  6. Rooney, Dr. J ‘The lame horse’ , A.S Barnes & Co. Inc., 1974
  7. Stashak Ted S ‘Practical guide to Lameness in horses’ Blackwell publishing 2006
  8. Tucker, R ‘Where does my horse hurt’ Trafalgar Square books, Vermont 2011



ph: 0432 105 495


ABN: 51810845732

Sacroiliac strain (3)



Well, back to Toba. . .

Toba gets very tired trying to carry a rider and balance himself, and use his body in the correct manner for soundness.

He shows this tiredness by leaning on the bit.

I will stop him and give him a rest, and when I feel he is ready again, I will continue to ask him the ‘can you’ questions.

I have found tiredness will happen with most horses, even if they are not dysfunctional in anyway -especially the young horses. They will show in some way that they need that break. Leaning on the bit, distracted, shying suddenly for what seems to be no reason. I know now that this factor is important to the horse- that you as a rider should know when to give that break. One can push a horse to try that bit harder (like we do ourselves) otherwise they will never get stronger, but there is that point that one should not go over, and the horse usually tells you in his own way what that point is. . .

When I think back on it, the times I overrode was when I had my own agenda on how I expected my horses to perform ‘movements’, and usually in a lesson, where someone was telling me what to do, and you are thinking of so many things at once – it is just not peaceful- and so you can easily miss the signs and push the horse too hard when he may have been due a break.

Just remember the horse has a fantastic memory, and if it not a pleasurable experience he will remember. I am believing at this stage in Toba’s intelligence, and the trust he has in me to get us through this phase of discomfort. Like all horses he lives only for the moment, but now I see a different horse even out in his paddock.


“As horses are for the most part good-natured, insubordination may more often be caused by overwork or pain than by disobedience.” 1


I feel so sorry for Toba, and wished that it had not all happened – but I am grateful that his injury inspired me to desire an in depth knowledge of the anatomy and physiology and different forms of therapies in order to help not only him but horses that I meet along the way


“Besides knowledge of the physiology and psychology of the horse, the rider must have a clear notion of the theory of the movement and balance.” 1





1 Podhajsky Alois, ‘The complete training of Horse and Rider’, The Sportsman’s Press, UK 1967