Muscular Pain in the SI Region

Hi everyone here’s some background on my girl: she’s 23 and we’re riding 2nd level dressage non competitively (schooling some 3rd with clean changes). She used to be a hunter in her youth, and then in her teens I transferred her over to full time dressage.

She had had about the last 2 months of intermittent work due to various injuries - hoof abscess, then she clipped herself, then a cut cornea, then a large gash on her fetlock. She’s sound and back to regular work and turnout (12 hours out 12 hours in in a 12x22 stall.)

Within the last week she has developed some muscle soreness in her SI region when palpating. She had her SI injected exactly a year ago via guided ultrasound. She palpated sore then but was much worse, and the soreness went all the way through her lumbars. She lost almost all of her back muscle when that happened. The biggest culprit at that point was that her movement and work ethic was drastically different: poor canter transitions, very hollow through her back, and very short steps. The injections solved all of those problems. At the moment, we have none of the movement issues.

It seems like it could be the start of her needing her SI injected again, but I know generally they don’t palpate sore. Could it be something else? Could it just be that she’s back to work and using those hind end muscles differently than she has for a couple months? I will absolutely get my vet involved, but at this time they are doing emergency calls only.

Any tips on how I can relieve these muscles, or anyone have a horse that palpated sore and indeed just had arthritis in the SI? People that have had SI injections- how long have they lasted for your horse?

I have seen SI injections make a huge difference with one treatment. I knew one horse who needed it a second time after a few months. Sometimes a lameness lower in the leg stresses the SI, so another lameness exam might be worthwhile. I have a horse who gets sore around his SI but did not respond to injections because it turned out he has EPSM. I think you are the right track with correct work to build muscle, although it is harder with an older horse. Make sure you are providing muscle nutrition with quality amino acids and minerals like magnesium, selenium and vitamin E. I also like massage and PEMF for keeping the topline comfortable.

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It could just be from her body compensating especially since she is older. Take the time to build up the muscle and strength of the hindquarters. I second on the massage and PEMF, and also chiropractic. My horse was stuck in his right SI and after he got adjusted, it’s like he didn’t know how to move because his body was compensating for the lack of movement in his right hind. My massage therapist also taught me how to do a psoas stretch to get his hind end loose and relaxed before and after work. I also recommend doing butt tucks. I’d also check saddle fit to make sure any discomfort isn’t contributing to the soreness.

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I think you’re right about the body aging and overall compensation. I’ve never done PEMF but I will check it out for my girl! Used to do massages and never found much of a benefit but the last time she had one was probably when she was 16 so I think it’s time to try again since she clearly has some soreness.
I will see if my chiropractor can show me some Psoas stretches.

She’s a regular on the chiropractor. She got adjusted about a week and a half ago and was big time out in her pelvis. She’s never been out in her SI region but was sore back there. Saddle fit is good - custom made Albion fitted and checked every 6 months by certified master saddle fitter - she came out and adjusted right before everything got locked down.

@Helicon I think You’re right that doing a lameness work up to see if she’s compensating is a good idea. Then, if there’s not, she may just need her SI injected again and me to come to reality that she’s aging and getting close to retirement. Just hard when she’s in such good shape otherwise.

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You could try massaging in ‘Sore No More’ lotion before you ride. I’ve done this with mine (gets sore over lumbar area) and it seems to help. I also found a DMSO/Arnica cream I’ve been using, as I rub it in it seems to get a bit warm and she seems to like that. Plus massaging it in seems to help loosen things up. I dig in pretty good with my fingers.
Beyond that, a really good warm-up (without rider) and lots of stretching help.

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I really like this stuff for sore, hard muscles. i would definitely try treating the SI again before retiring. Horses age really quickly once they retire. I think they thrive while having a job - both physically and mentally.

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I can admit I always worry about being judged that she’s too old to be working. But she’s a really good girl in really good shape that seems to like her job. You made me feel much better that I’m not harming my horse by still asking her to do proper work. My goal is definitely not moving up the levels, just to have a good time learning with my girl.

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