Identifying Back Pain in Horses
In today’s blog I am going to talk about Back pain in horses. Unfortunately, it is something that is common, and that often goes unrecognised. It is something I see a lot in my clinic. Riding horses who have pain in their back region can have a big impact on their happiness and comfort.
A horses back is dividable into three regions. The Thoracic (spanning from the withers to just past where the last rib attaches to the spine), the Lumbar continuing on from the thoracic section (this region spans to the point of the croup) and the Sacrum (the region spanning to the tail). The tail is an extension of the back, where beneath the dock the coccygeal vertebras continue to the point of the tail.
In today’s blog I am going to discuss Lumbar pain. The Lumbar Area is an area that is often sore in horses. These back muscles receive a lot of use, and even unridden horses can be stiff and sore across the lumbar region. Additional problems such as an incorrectly fitted saddle or uneven rider weight distribution for riding horses can further exacerbate a back problem. The back lumbar muscles assist a horse in being able to flex sideways (laterally) and they ensure free movement through the back as the horse progresses forward. Freeing up pain or tension in the lumbar area can lead to a greater ability and willingness for the horse to move forward and to improved flexibility and range of motion for the whole horse.
How to tell if a horse is sore:
You will know if your horse has a problem in their back area if there is sensitivity or pain when you palpate (feel with an adequate amount of pressure) or if there is tension across the muscle bands. Any unwillingness to move sideways may indicate pain in the opposite lumbar region (opposite side of the horse) or any unevenness in hind leg stride can indicate back pain. Check for sensitivity when your horse is saddled, groomed or touched or for any resistance to go forward properly. If your horse drops in the back, or is overly restless or defensive when touched or mounted, it may be that they are sore.
Excessive tail wringing or holding the tail to the side as well as a difficulty collecting can be signs of lower back pain. A horse that exhibits uncharacteristic behaviour such as bucking or refusing to jump when he normally be willing, is a cause for exploration also, and may indicate pain in the lumbar area.
In my next blog I will explore how one can carry out a treatment for relieving lower back pain in your horse.
All the best,