In our case the bridge is the iliums of the pelvic bones, and the traffic is the lumbar vertebrae. When repetitive strain injuries or sudden crashes cause the associated muscles to contract leaving them inflexible and thus trapping the sacrum we have and equine bridge closure. This then leaves the lumbar vertebrae jammed and gives them the appearance of being pushed up. In some cases they are. This is our backed up traffic.
As promised we are going to go over some techniques to help horses with hunter’s bump type restrictions.
These methods are to be used with horses who have had the characteristic bump for a while. If you have an acute injury and there is swelling you may do more damage than good. If there is heat and swelling you may want to consider having your vet take a look.
The first step is to work on is opening that bridge again. Remember that it’s closed because the muscles holding it there are no longer flexible enough to open. I like to massage over the entire hip. If your hands are not strong enough to massage then roll over the muscles with a tennis ball or massage tool.
Then pull on the hip bones using those pelvic processes to stretch the inner workings of the hip. The top set of hips bones, or the ilium should be pulled towards you, encouraging them to open. The next set is down by the flanks and should be pressed towards the ground. Don’t bounce or wiggly, just press firmly. If you're lacking the strength in your hands to hook your fingers on and pull then use a firm object, like a piece of wooden doweling, just be careful not to bruise your horse.
These three exercises will get you started, keep in mind that the best way to regain range of motion and get traffic flowing in both directions again is by breaking up the tension that's holding everything stuck and teaching it to be flexible again. One of the best ways to do this is by making your horse move. I like moving them in smaller circles because those little circles really make the pelvis work. If your horse is lame then you still need to move her no matter how weird you feel doing it. It’s taken me many years to be okay with moving lame horses but I’ve learned that for the most part that the more they move the better off they are.
For this reason recommend that horses who are being treated for hunter’s bump type restrictions are worked even lightly a few times a week at least prior to the other treatments.
Happy Horsing Around
Cyndi Bird CEST