Pulled Hamstring?

Discussion in 'Horse Management' started by JMGB, Jan 18, 2014.

  1. JMGB

    JMGB New Member

    Hi Everyone,
    I have just had the horse massage lady out for my gelding yesterday and she thinks he has pulled/sprained his hamstring as such. Has this happened to anyone else and could anyone suggest a recovery time and or stretches we could do to aid his recovery?
    Thanks :)
  2. kp

    kp Well-known Member

    Bit of an unusual injury. What did the person that saw your horse suggest. Did she give any specific instructions or show you how to do some stretches with him?
  3. JMGB

    JMGB New Member

    She said try to extend his leg forward, as if the farrier is filing his toe, but he isn't comfortable with that and me being a 16 year old and him a 17h warmblood it's not going to end well so just trying to find any other stretches that will benefit him
  4. RVP Horses

    RVP Horses Well-known Member

    Horses that are sore in the hamstring are not as uncommon as you may think. A lot of horses that I treat with Bowen may not be showing classic signs of hamstring injury but they are tight through that area and show reaction when treated. Pull his foot forward just slightly and hold it for 5 sec, even if to start with you just get it off the ground. When he shows a slight discomfort then hold, then gradually day by day he should allow you to pull a little further. The best time to start is directly after a treatment, with bowen anyway as the soreness has been relieved and you are resetting the muscle memory to say "oh that's good I can do that without hurting". If you stand with your back to his shoulder and pull it towards you, if he does try to pull it away or kick it will push you away from the danger zone not into it if that makes sense. I would have thought she would have explained all that to you?
  5. JMGB

    JMGB New Member

    She did explain it to me, it's just I can barely hold his leg for 10 seconds before he tries to pull away. And I just thought it was better to look for any other stretches than do nothing at all :)
  6. RVP Horses

    RVP Horses Well-known Member

    How long have you been trying these stretches for? Did you start off low then increase how far you were pulling it up or did you just pull it right forward? Were the stretches done straight after the massage when the muscles were most relaxed? Have you tried gradually increasing them (time held and distance pulled forward). Think of how you feel if you have an injury and don't want to move it (even a stiff neck) You'd probably pull away to if someone tried to move it further than you were happy with. Lots of short stretches are better than trying to do one big one as this technique increase the stretch distance and helps reset the muscle memory better. If you try other stretches and don't get a reaction then they probably aren't stretching the right area. The reaction tells you you are stretching the right spot (assuming he is usually good when the farrier does this). Start where the horse only has slight discomfort and release before he shows too much resistance and work up from there. Start with 10 small stretches trying to get a little further on each one then work up to about 20 a day (10 morning and night) increasing stretch and length of time held. He should improve quite quickly. If not may be try a different modality.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  7. kp

    kp Well-known Member

    I'm hoping it was explained to you how to do an affective stretch. Make sure the horse is warmed up first. A ten minute walk will suffice. Pick the foot up, but not high, bring it forward until the horse shows a little bit of resistance. but do not ask for the stretch until the horse relaxing the leg and allows you to pull it. If you try to stretch a muscle while the horse is pulling away, you will do more damage. You may have to pick the foot up and hold it a few times before being able to achieve the stretch. Controlled exercise is usually the best thing for muscle injuries, especially if you can't stretch it.

    Make sure his toe isn't too long in behind. This will add strain to the hamstring and cause the injury.
  8. Blackbat

    Blackbat Well-known Member

    As everyone says, stretches take a bit of time for you both to learn and starting small is best. If you are smart with your timing, you will take the foot back to the ground when the horse is most relaxed, and by rewarding this he will get more confident to trust his legs to you. 10 seconds or a full stretch forward may be too much at first. Just ask him to pick his foot up, hold it just off the floor, wait for the first indication he shows to lose his tension/breathe/relax then slowly lower his foot until his toe touches the ground. If he pulls his leg back, go with it then repeat until he can keep relaxed all through the release. If you ask for too much too soon, you'll blow it.

    You are trying to teach him that stretches feel good, not just pull his foot as far as it can go. Once you get this, he will start sidling up to you begging for stretches :)
  9. BowenT

    BowenT New Member

    Tight/sore hamstrings unusually come about due to two causes:

    1. After horse has had a very strenuous workout above its fitness level. This will only occur after the workout though and would not be an ongoing thing for weeks/months etc. And once fixed by bodyworker (once) should not occur again.

    2. Hock joints issues such as arthritis. This is usually also coupled with wearing of the toes on the hind hooves as the joint is restricted and 'stiff' so toe gets dragged on ground slightly during the stride. In this case the offside is also usually worse then the nearside as the joint issues are usually worse on this side. This causes a more ongoing problem with the hamstring issues returning only a few weeks or even days after therapist has been out. In this case stretching the leg will not help an awful lot long term as the joint issue will continue to deteriorate and so will the muscle issue.

    I would recommend getting a flexion test done on the hock joints or test for arthritis by vet. If confirmed Pentosan etc injections from vet should relieve the joint pain and the hamstring muscle issues will disappear as well :)

    It is also best to rather solve the source of the issue then trying to simply relieve the symptoms of the sore muscles the entire time. And especially in this case where continual stretching can be dangerous for owner when relieving the source of the problem can solve the entire issue quickly as horses only become sore muscle wise when something else is putting strain on the body such as ill-fitting saddle, teeth, joints, feet etc and once these are corrected the muscle issues disappear every time as well.

    As a therapist I have never seen muscle issues remain after the source of the issue has been solved and still love going out to clients 6months to 2/3 years after the first treatment when they have corrected the issue straight away and horse is still feeling beautiful and soft all over muscle wise with no follow up treatments required :)

    Good luck with your boy and hope he gets sorted asap :)
  10. holistichorse

    holistichorse Well-known Member

    I completely agree with what KP said about stretches, make sure the horse is warm and you go slowly.
    Tight hamstrings are quite common in the ridden horse, did you massage therapist say why she thought it might be "pulled".
    Did the horse have a really tough workout, or an accident?
    What is the hoof balance like on the hind leg? Unbalanced hooves can cause excessive strain on the hamstrings, or like BowenT said, arthritic issues.
    It would be good if you could do some massage of the area yourself, and rub a liniment such as comfrey and arnica into it to help with the tightness and pain.
  11. Seahorse

    Seahorse Well-known Member

    Bowen/massage/chiropractic people are wonderful for drawing your attention to sore areas, and things that don't look quite right, but to diagnose a problem definitively, best to get a vet involved.

    If he's sore somewhere behind, then the vet can see if he might have some hock arthritis, some sacroilliac soreness, some high hind suspensory issues, or something else. To differentiate these properly, you need imaging equipment (x-rays, ultrasound).

    All horses can get a bit sore with work, or from mucking around out in the paddock, but if they're consistently sore in the same spot, I would suspect an underlying problem. Could be arthritis, ligament strains, saddle fit, rider problems etc, but in most cases, a few stretches aren't going to make a huge difference.

    So, get the vet out, find out what you're dealing with, and go from there.

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