My horse has a sore back?? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 11-05-2012, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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My horse has a sore back??

I have a question for eveyone! (warning, this may be long but i want to be discriptive as possible because i would really like an answer!)

Alright, so I have a 17 year old arabian gelding named Showdown. I got him when he was fourteen I believe. He was a great show horse. He was shown hunt and saddleseat. I got him for free as my first horse because his original owners didnt want him and were going to send him to a rescue so my family took him in. I had a lot of work to do with him because he had been basically thrown out to pasture for a year. He is a great horse with a lot of attitude. What im getting at is im wondering if my horse has a sore back?

Right from the beginning when I adopted Showdown he always seemed to try and bite me when I saddled him. At first i bushed it off as him just being crabby, but he still does this to this day. I don't think it is his saddle because I did get a differnt saddle and he still bites at me. (In fact he bites at me when I just put the saddle pad or a bareback pad on.) Im not sure if this is a habit he picked up a while ago or he has a bad back...It doesnt help that he has high withers, but I use a pad between my saddle and saddle pad for added comfort and padding for him. Also sometimes when i cury/brush his back he flinches or every once in a while nips at me.

Another thing I first brushed off as his lack of being worked with was he could never get the right leads. Today he still can't get them right most of the time. His recently new thing is he likes to counter canter and switch his leads in the back every other stride. This is very uncomforable for me, and I have tried to sit deep and keep him from doing it, but he still manages. Another recent thing is he bucks a lot now. Before he bucked every once in a while, now its almost all the time. I can't canter him without him having a fit. He throws his head down and bucks. Almost like a rodeo horse. It just seems to be getting worse. (He loves to go fast, but of course this is because he is a saddleseat horse! )

Now i understand that horses get sore and more fragile as they age, but i feel like this is something more. I'm not sure if this is him just being himself because he can be a naughty and very sensitive horse, but I don't want to work this out of him if its because he's in pain.

If anyone managed to get through my novel I would LOVE some advice!
P.S. I had a chircopractor look at him a few years ago and he said he was all inline.
I'm thinking i may want to have a vet look at his back, but i don't want to spend a ton of money when I think I know what the answer will be....
so yes any advice would be great...please no rude comments! I only want whats best for my horse. And my mom and I have owned horses our whole lives and now run a small boarding stable. We are very expericened horse people, I just really want some advice. Thanks! :)

Last edited by SOSCC; 11-05-2012 at 11:47 PM.
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post #2 of 19 Old 11-05-2012, 11:48 PM
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Have the saddle checked by a qualified fitter. Adding padding never helps with a poorly fitting saddle.
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post #3 of 19 Old 11-05-2012, 11:51 PM
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No advice, but I'm curious to what others may say. I have a 15 yo Arabian mare (ex western pleasure show horse) that does the exact same thing, but without the bucking. I have had her vet checked, put her on rest, and have been getting her massaged regularly and she still does it. I stretch her before and after each ride (light work only) and do some massage techniques in between her regular sessions. I have noticed with mine that she only does it when I ask her to trot/canter. Testing different stimuli, I pretty much just "let her go" one day and allowed her to do whatever. She would trot and canter without the biting as long as she did it on her own. So anyway...I'm hoping to learn something, too.
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post #4 of 19 Old 11-06-2012, 12:00 AM
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Does this horse have trouble cantering on the correct lead when he canters on the lunge or in a round pen (no rider aboard?)

I am inclined to think the trouble is in his back and may or may not be saddle connected. He might have "kissing spines"

Has he been evaluated by a vet, and an equine chiropractor.?
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post #5 of 19 Old 11-06-2012, 12:01 AM
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Have you taken your hand and run your fingers FIRMLY down his back along side his spine on each side....right from wither to tail......he will for sure let you know if he is as sore as I'm presuming him to be.....

If he's really sore, he will try to kill or mame you lol or he will show that he is very agitated.......I'd start there....if he's sore, quit riding him, get a vet or chiro...and looks for a new saddle, preferably professionally fitted....
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post #6 of 19 Old 11-06-2012, 12:10 AM
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Can you post pictures of the horse's back, the saddle and the pads your using? Here's a great link to a video on how to see if your saddle fits, technically the saddle should fit without the need for pads- remedial pads are supposed to be temporary or to help extreme cases.

Once you're sure you saddle fits this doesn't mean his back will get better right off - a chiropractor is your best bet. I'm gonna be honest, I've never had a chiropractor or massage therapist tell me the horse is "perfect" there may not be enough to cause issues, but there's always something to better. I would look for a vet/chiropractor or a massage therapist or both ;)
If he were just crabby with you putting tack on him I'd say he's just being a grouch but since he flinches with just brushes or hands - he's definitely in pain ad something needs to be done about it before you ride again, IMO.

Good luck - keep up posted

ETA: I just read Tiny's post she's absolutely right! please look into kissing spine, I didn't even think of that - you're brilliant Tiny ^^

ETA x2: people keep saying he's old - he's 17 he's got another good 10 years on him if he's well cared for,he's not young, but he isn't old enough to use it as an excuse :P Unless his life before you was very hard on him

Last edited by PunksTank; 11-06-2012 at 12:20 AM.
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post #7 of 19 Old 11-06-2012, 12:13 AM
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u need to show him whos boss hit him when he bites u hes pushing u around right now and thats not ok! Also maybe take him to a ciropractor or massage therapist! Or even a vet! He is old he might just be worn down.
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post #8 of 19 Old 11-06-2012, 12:44 AM
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Agree with what others, except Barrel horse said. While the biting could be behavioural & not picking up leads could be a rider/training issue, yes, I think you're right that it's pain related. As your horse is only 17yo, it's not about age, excepting in that many domestic horses have suffered much damage by then from being ridden young/hard/in bad tack, etc, etc. I wouldn't ride him until you've got to the bottom of it.

Muppet, agree with your post except the 'firm pressure' bit. IME most horses will flinch away from firm pressure. If they flinch or otherwise react to light pressure, that tends to mean there's some discomfort there. As you've had a chiro find nothing a few years back, it's possible it's developed more/again since, but also could be that it's not a bone/joint issue, but soft tissue, saddle fit, girth hurting or otherwise, etc. Oh & on saddlefit, I also suggest studying Balance International's site as they have a lot of info on what makes a good or bad saddle.

Oh, one more thing about saddle fit that someone above said - IMO too much padding is never a good thing, but padding/shims can indeed help a saddle fit better... so long as the saddle's too big, not too tight.
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post #9 of 19 Old 11-06-2012, 01:10 AM
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Loosie; i tottaly agree with u it could be a training issue also
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post #10 of 19 Old 11-06-2012, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Hello everyone! Thank you all so much this advice is very helpful! And yes Tinyliny he does get the correct leads on a lunge line for the post part! To test that theory more I had my mom lunge me and I asked Showdown to canter and he would get it wrong, but if he has no rider he usally gets it right. I did some research on back problems and I thought it may be kissing spine 2, but i wanted some advice. Thanks!
@ Muppetgirl, Yes i think i tried this a while ago and I think he flinched his back down, but as soon as I get out to see him again I will test it again and get back to ya! :)
@ PunksTank, yes i can see if i can figure out how to upload a few pics of him with his saddle on and maybe one of just his back. I'm also going to check out some websites on how to judge if the saddle is the right fit.

@Barrelhorselover yes I have thought about it being a behavior issue because being the Arab he is he can get fiesty! Lol ;) but i want to rule out everything else before I get after him, because if hes in pain I dont want to punish him if hes just trying to tell me hes hurting.
@Loosie yes it could be a training issue, but ive had differnt people ride him and he does the exact same thing with them, so i don't think its me, if it was i was thinking he would be ok if someone else rode him, but he seems to do it to everyone so im thinking its pain.

And the padding I use is a riser pad under my saddle, and then a barrel racing saddle under that. My saddle is a saddleseat saddle and is pretty light! I'm afraid to use any other saddle on him because I dont want to hurt him. I would really like to be able to find out the cause of this! Which may end up to having a vet or circopractor look at him. I don't wish to show him anymore, but i would still like to take him out and have a nice easy ride or maybe a short trail ride, but now i dont like to do more than walking and trotting on him because be just acts up so much. My mom and sister want to ride him aswell but they are afraid he will buck and freak out when they ride. Sorry! that was long too! lol Im going to try to see if i can upload pics! THANK YOU EVERYONE!!! :) :) :)
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