Gluteals, both in the horse, dog and human are a large group of power muscles whose main function are to extend, abduct and rotate the hip, which help to propel the body forward whether it is walking, galloping or bounding up stairs.
Gluteals are an important muscle group that influence the posture of the pelvis and lower back (lumbar spine) which can be a common source of lower back pain if they are not strong and performing well in their function.
There are three main gluteal muscles - gluteus maximus which is the largest, most superficial muscle which tends to give the buttock its shape and is a powerful muscle in extending the hip, gluteus medius which is also a rotator of the hip and is essential for pelvic alignment when there is an element of single leg strength required for example, during walking and the gluteus minimus which is the smallest of the gluteal muscles which lies underneath the gluteus medius and has a similar function.
Have a look at your horse standing square from behind (at a safe distance!) and look at the shape of their buttocks, are they equal? Do you feel your horse performs better going left than right, or always prefers to hang on a rein or drift after jumping a fence?
Have a feel of the gluteals on your dog and see does the muscle bulk feel the same? Do they struggle moving from sitting to standing or getting into the car or up the stairs?
Physiotherapy is good for identifying these muscle weaknesses and differentiating between conditions that require alternative physiotherapy treatment or referral onto your vet. So whilst you are looking at your pets gluteal muscles, check out your own and see if you can squat and single leg squat with ease (without your knee drifting inwards!) and if you get tight and sore in your buttocks from riding physiotherapy might just be the ticket!