How do you know if your horse’s back is sore?
- There are many fairly subtle symptoms of back soreness in horses, including:
- Abnormal standing and/or shifting stance frequently while tied or in cross ties
- Flinching or pinning his ears as the saddle is lowered to his back
- Pinning his ears when you mount
- Stiffness turning right or left
- Reluctance to work, when this hasn’t been a problem in the past.
More obvious symptoms of back soreness include:
- Dipping of horse’s back as you palpate either side or both sides of it with moderate pressure, on either side of his backbone. Use a knuckle to put pressure on the long muscle of his back (each side of the spine, about 2 inches away from the bones). Horses with backs that aren’t painful usually don’t mind a fair amount of pressure on these muscles.
- Head tossing, ear pinning, moving around, etc., as you palpate the back muscles.
Why is my horse’s back sore?
- Stifle soreness-tightening back muscles to avoid moving the stifles up and forward during locomotion.
- Poorly fitting saddle (this is a fairly infrequent cause if the saddle is good quality and well-cared for, unless combined with a poorly-sitting rider).
- Riding the horse with his head too high or too low, or in draw reins that the horse tries to oppose.
- Rider sitting crooked or off to one side (Look at your saddle -both the seat and the underside, as soon as you dismount after an hour’s ride-to spot potential crookedness in your seat position. If you are sitting crooked, there will be a larger wear pattern on the side you favor).
- A fall in the pasture.
- Bruising of the back from horse play: Horses (especially geldings) play rough!
- Getting cast in the stall (This can happen when no one is around, but evidence is there if you check: “trashed stall bedding”, knocked over water buckets, hoof marks on the stall walls, abrasions on the horse’s head)
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