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Hunter's Bump
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mirashar
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 Posted: Sun Apr 1st, 2007 04:28 pm
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Hi. I just read "Principles of Conformation Analysis" and would like to know
if there is outlined somewhere a set of specific exercises that help rectify the "hunter's bump". Also, how serious is this condition and does it heal over time and what can I do to help it along?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sun Apr 1st, 2007 07:03 pm
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You know, someday I guess I am going to have to revise those books. There are aspects discussed in there that are -- understandably -- difficult to understand. From the number of queries I get on this, the placement, orientation, and function of the sacro-iliac joints appears to be one of them.

"Hunter's Bump" is a term for mild to moderate displacement of the pelvis at the sacro-iliac joint. The displacement is of such a nature as to cause the pelvis to tilt up in front (or you can think of it as the whole pelvis becoming steeper). The cause of the displacement is strain. The two commonest types of strain are a) cast or caught; and b) clashing strong effort of the longissimus dorsi muscles of the back/topline vs. rectus abdominis muscles of the belly/underline.

"Cast or caught" can be cast in the stall, rolled under a fence and struggled, pulled back hard, slipped on takeoff from jump.

"Clash" of back vs. belly occurs anytime the horse is asked to work in a tiedown of any type at speed, such as commonly in competition roping. It also commonly occurs in gaited horses, i.e. 5-gaited ASB's, Pasos, etc. Less commonly we find it in the hunter/jumper context where a standing martingale is used, or with the dressage horse with their common use of draw reins of various types.

So, Mirashar, the first thing is for you to consider whether any of these would describe the situation for your horse. If they do, then remove these conditions. Particularly, take off any device or set of straps of any type that would restrict the movement of the horse's head or tie it down. Also, if you've been using cleats, grabs, or anything else to increase traction in the hind feet, you will need to consider removing those as they contribute to the overall strain over the horse's rump and into its lower back.

If you don't see your horse described here, however, the likelihood is that he doesn't actually have any hunter's bump, but just a steepish pelvis as a part of his innate conformation. Sometimes also, an ill-fitting saddle, poor rider technique, underfeeding, or old age can make the horse's back appear thin and the coupling from the back into the rump/croup appear rough. In that case, it could look like the anterior part of the pelvis was bumpy and steep.

Another possibility is if this horse belongs to a teenaged girl who wants to jump, as a general rule they don't have the slightest idea of how to create a balanced training program for a horse, so that I regularly see the development of an unbalanced muscularity in those horses which I call "jumper-itis". One aspect of this is the hypertrophy of the anterior gluteal muscles -- which again could look like a "hunter's bump" but really isn't.

The best way to get straightened out on what the sacro-iliac joints look like, where they're located, and how they relate to the nearby sacro-lumbar joint complex, is to examine an actual skeleton. If there's a museum of natural history near where you live, call them and see if they have a "discovery room" or place where visitors can handle actual skeletal material. If they don't have this or a horse skeleton, the pelvis/sacrum/low lumbars of any mammal will do -- they are all basically alike so far as the sacro-iliac joint goes, and the only difference between a non-horse and a horse as to the sacro-lumbar joint is that the horse has inter-transverse articulations and non-equines do not -- but you can still get the gist of the idea, and far better from the skeleton than from either this posting or from the "Principles of Conformation" books.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

 

mirashar
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 Posted: Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 01:18 am
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Thank you for your explanation. My horse is an 8 year old Tennessee Walker who is primarily ridden on trails on a loose rein. No tie downs or other restrictions to her head are used. The terrain is not flat, lots of undulations and can be rocky in areas. She does not rush down the hills, we take our time and I try to make sure she gathers herself before a descent. On the ascent I lean forward a bit and am always trying to be conscious not to weight her hindquarters. I got her two years ago and am thinking that had I been more knowledgeable I would have noticed the bump.

She is a very willing horse, sweet in disposition and is a joy to ride. I enjoy her immensely.

I will try to obtain access to a skeleton so I could better understand the mechanics and placement of the joint.

Thanks-

DrDeb
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 Posted: Mon Apr 2nd, 2007 01:52 am
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That's good, Mirashar. Yes: by all means visit a museum. Or, alternatively, sign up for one of our anatomy classes, where this particular matter is gone into extensively. There are always skeletons in my classes (if not in my closets....actually, that's where they're kept when they're not actually in class, but never mind!). The "skeleton class" we're offering in early December at our California lab might be of special interest here, to you and to others. -- Dr. Deb


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