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Understanding the Sacroiliac Region in Your Horse

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Those of you that follow my blogs and social media posts will know that I am always looking to expand my knowledge of equine anatomy and biomechanics and I am also a huge fan of Gillian Higgins and Horses Inside Out.

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Those of you that are my clients will have heard me talk about the importance of your horse’s stabilizing muscles and how we can work to improve them whilst also maintaining flexibility in your horse.

I often talk about the importance of understanding how we can help improve our horse’s posture to create strong, healthy musculoskeletal systems and horses with longevity in their ridden careers.

So what could be more exciting to me than the latest multimedia book launch from Gillian - Sacroiliac Ligaments and the Iliospoas Muscle Group!

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The Sacroiliac region is key to stability in the horse.

In this blog I would like to share with you a little about this area of the horse and also a little about this amazing resource that Gillian has released.

That way if you find the information interesting and want to learn more you will know exactly where to look!

The Sacroiliac joint is deep within the body beneath the pelvis.

This is a joint with very little movement.

It’s main function is stability and it also plays a large part in supporting the weight of the horse’s trunk and abdomen and absorbing shock in the moving horse.

Deep within this joint are the Sacroiliac ligaments and the Iliopsoas muscles, their job is to stabilise the Sacroiliac Joint.

Because of the position of this area in the horse’s body it can be very hard to visualise it especially from 2D drawing on a page.

gillian higgins horses inside out Equine iliopsoas muscle group, iliacus, psoas major, psoas minor muscle, horse pelvis, health, dysfunction, posture, rehabilitation

What Gillian has done to help with this is she has constructed 3D models using real pony bones and modelling materials and not only photographed them, (which you can see in the ring bound book provided as part of her multimedia book), but also created online videos of the models rotating with the anatomical labels to really give the effect of the bones, muscles and ligaments positioned as they would be on a live horse helping the viewer to get a true understanding and visualisation.

There ring bound book provided as part of the pack provides a mixture of photographs of the models as well as information on the bones, muscles and ligaments including their origin, insertion, function and innervation.

gillian higgins horses inside out equine sacroiliac ligaments, sacrosciatic ligament, sacraotuberal ligament, pelvis, hip, lumbar vertebrae iliopsoas muscles,  iliacus, training, performance health rehabilitation exercises

You can then access the videos through the member’s area of the website using the unique passcode in your book.

gillian higgins horses inside out video lectures, horse sacroiliac ligaments, equine iliopsoas muscles, location and biomechanics, dysfunction and exercises

Video 1 shows Gillian’s model of the Sacroliliac ligaments, in 3D rotating with the anatomical labels focusing on the anatomy, attachment points and function of the ligaments.

Video 2 shows Gillian’s model of the Illiopsoas muscles giving an overview of the actions, origins and insertions.

This really brings the models to life and makes it so much easier to put into context than just the image on the page.

The first two videos are quite short, but then there are 2 longer videos.

Video 3 is titled Location and Biomechanics

This is a 30 minute practical lecture focusing on applied anatomy, location, palpation and the contribution of these structures to movement and biomechanics.

This video is jammed packed with information. I already have some knowledge of this region and I still made pages of notes from this video.

I like the way Gillian used a combination of younger and older horses in her videos as well as real horse and pony bones.

Video 4 is titled Dysfunction, Assessment and Strengthening Exercises

This is a 40 minute practical lecture looking at the causes and symptoms of dysfunction and injury, postural assessment and exercises for strengthening and rehabilitation.

Again this video is jammed packed with info, I kept having to pause it to write notes and then replay sections, there is so much in there and so many useful tips to help with understanding how to detect Sacroiliac dysfunction in horses, what it means for your horse and (once diagnosed by a vet and once the horse is no longer in pain) a whole host of exercises that are simple to do and can aid rehabilitation.

What I like about Gillian’s approach and the way she makes her videos and books is that she presents it in a way that any horse owner with little knowledge of equine anatomy and biomechanics can understand, and yet for someone like myself, a therapist with a sound knowledge, there is enough depth and context to the information that there is still lots to learn and the information does not seem ‘dumbed down’.

I love the use of the Tensegrity model in the video to demonstrate dysfunction and asymmetry in the musculoskeletal system, this is one of my favourite parts of the video actually and something that would be useful to show to my clients.

I would highly recommend this multimedia book to any horse owner looking to expand their knowledge of equine anatomy, particularly if you have a horse with hind end lameness, Sacroiliac dysfunction, SIJ pain, lower back (lumbar) pain, weakness in one or both of the hind limbs, asymmetrical hind limb conformation. Or anyone rehabbing their horse after a fall or repetitive strain injury.

I would also recommend this as a useful tool to any trainers, equine therapists or other equine professionals. After all you never know what gems you might pick up!

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog, you can follow this link to purchase Gillian’s book.

I would like to add that in no way do I benefit from promoting this product, I just think it’s a really good resource and wanted to share it with you all!

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