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Equine Back Pain and Injuries:
Horse Arthritis, Poor Saddle Fit and Riding Stress Could Cause Soreness

Equines use their back for almost every motion they make. The vertebra, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves in a horseís back are extremely important for even the most basic movements. If there is even a small problem in a horseís back, the horse can suffer greatly. Horses can be extremely irritated by back problems, which is why owners should be aware of the symptoms and how to treat equine back pain.

Symptoms of Equine Back Pain

If your horse is suffering from back pain, here are a few symptoms that might lead you to suspect it. In the beginning stages of back pain, a horseís performance will decrease or change noticeably. They may not be trotting or might look like they are walking gingerly. Owners may also notice their attitude might be a little off. They may be unusually irritable and might not welcome you to groom them or even touch their back area. If you try to ride them, they could be quite aggressive in getting you off.

What to Expect with Mature or Elderly Horses

although many horses are able to work for 15 or more years, there are greater chances that as a horse ages, they will develop back problems. Working horses tend to be more prone or at risk of developing chronic back pain with age. Working horses are more likely to fall and cause permanent damage to their body. Most horses will try to get through the pain and will alter their movement to avoid the pain. They will work still, and is up to owners to notice a difference in the way a horse is moving.

Horses can also take a bad fall in their stall or pen that could cause permanent injury to their backs. A sudden change of behavior is the most common symptom of this kind of injury. For instance, you may put your healthy horse in his pen for the night, however, the next morning your horse could be sore or lame.
In jumping horses, the horse might refuse to round their back or refuse to jump completely if they are suffer from back pain discomfort. If they do jump through the pain, they may start twisting their body unusually to avoid the pain. This changed in behavior may be slight at first, but will usually persist or worsen over time if not treated. The first sign of back pain problem or what is causing the pain can sometimes is difficult to detect since it is very dynamic condition.

Causes of Back Pain

There are multiple injuries and activities that can cause back pain in a horse. This makes it very difficult to detect what exactly is causing the pain. A common cause of back pain in older, heavily exercised horses is arthritis of the hock. The horse will use overuse the back muscles to take pressure off the hocks.

A vet can use several different approaches to find out what the source of the back pain may be. A veterinarian will often start with a basic physical examination of the horse and look for common causes of back soreness that are not always linked to the back directly. During these tests vet may use flexation tests, radiographs, localized anesthesia and blocks to assist in their diagnosis. These tests are fairly effective in determining where the pain is coming from and its severity.

If arthritis is the cause found, joint injections are often used to treat the pain. Problems in the feet detected in radiographs may show the horse is not being properly shoed or trimmed incorrectly. A horse that walks on incorrect shoes can develop lameness.

Imbalance riders or saddles can also be a common source of back pain or injury. It is vital that the saddle be checked and fitted every six to twelve months. Choosing the proper saddle for your horse is very important for his or her health. If you donít choose the proper saddle, the seat can cause the weight to be unevenly distributed on the horseís back A comfortable horse is a healthy horse!

Read the next horse health tips article on Bowed tendons.
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For cutting and reining horse events, you definitely need a saddle thatís designed to help you "ride in balance and sit the stop." First, you want a saddle that was designed and built specifically for reining or cutting. Both of these designs have their individual advantages but remember, just because the manufacturer "calls" it a reining saddle doesnít mean it was designed "well" for reining.

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