Negatives of a Sway Back? - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 13 Old 08-18-2013, 04:33 PM Thread Starter
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Negatives of a Sway Back?

The horse I'm looking at right now has a pretty bad sway back, and I was wondering if I should pass him up because of this. It doesn't hurt him, and he can fit a regular western saddle fine as long as he's got a thick enough pad. But, it's definitely a confirmation issue. He's been out of work for about a year, so I know that I could get it up at least a little with regular riding, cavalatti work, underbelly scratches, and keeping him on a low contact so he doesn't hollow his back out, but I don't know if this could lead to serious complications later. He's 16, by the way.

I don't plan to jump him (with the exception of hopping over a log on a trail every once in awhile). Just a trail/pleasure horse, mostly. He's got a lot of great assets and I'm seriously considering bringing my trainer out to take a look, too, but I was just wondering if I should even bother her with it.
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post #2 of 13 Old 08-18-2013, 04:51 PM
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If I was looking for a long term riding horse and I had the choice of one with a sway back and one that had the same qualities but no sway back then I would go for the latter
There are so many horses on the market right now its worth looking around as much as you can
You can always look at this horse and see how he rides and handles then either keep him on your list or cross him off it depending
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post #3 of 13 Old 08-18-2013, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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I've been on him. He rides like a dream on trail - which is the most important to me. He adores it out there and it shows. A bit green in the arena, but nothing some dedication can't fix, I'm sure. (I'm a fan of finishing off green horses, so I'm more than willing. He's just used to being naughty and then his rider giving up and taking him out on a trail - which he likes way more.)

But certainly. A horse with the same demeanor and qualities and a nice flat back, I would quickly go for that, as well. (Problem is I haven't found such a stellar trail horse within my price range and qualifications that fits all those boxes.) But no worries. No decisions made yet obviously. Still flitting around to look.
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post #4 of 13 Old 08-18-2013, 06:21 PM
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how many bridges or other structural supports do you see that are inversely arched ?
There is a reason for that.
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post #5 of 13 Old 08-18-2013, 06:35 PM
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I wonder if some of the reason he's naughty in the arena is that the typical exercises of circles, figure eights, etc., bother his back a little? I think horses are more naturally built for moving out in straight lines and as a consequence lateral work of any sort brings out problems in the confirmationally challenged horse. This is certainly not my intent to be offensive here but a horse in this situation should have the minimal weight possible on its back so if you are a person of substance this would not be a good choice for you. Aside from that, if your plan is pretty much trail/pleasure riding he may suit. Needless to say, have a vet look at him before you make that final decision. Good luck.
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post #6 of 13 Old 08-18-2013, 10:47 PM
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I would honestly most likely not look at a horse that I planned on riding for long periods of time with a sway back. I would be afraid that the horse would suffer from back pain. I would also be concerned in the back swaying even more.
Also... I think that someday you may want a horse that can do more than just trail rides. You may want to do more arena work and jumping, and with a sway back he would probably not stay as sound and willing as a horse without a sway back would.
Really it is up to what you want, but you would probably be able to find a great trail horse that is green in the arena like this horse, without a sway back.
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post #7 of 13 Old 08-18-2013, 11:08 PM
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"Lordosis affects horses of all breeds, and neither the early-onset variety nor the late-arriving form has any particular influence on horses' health or soundness. Swaybacked broodmares have no additional problems in conceiving, carrying or delivering their foals. Performance horses are not impaired to any significant degree by lordosis, though swaybacked racehorses aren't among the fleetest and affected show stock may have slightly altered gaits."

The Truth about Horse Swaybacks

I have no personal experience to share.

"There goes Earl!"
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post #8 of 13 Old 08-19-2013, 03:48 PM
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When we bought Jack the guy who delivered him (farrier from the barn I purchased Jack from) also brought another horse along for the ride.. Yep, not only was he a farrier but a horse trader as well. Anyway after he took Jack off the trailer he then pulled an old, white, terrible swaybacked horse out. I said, now I told you we did not want another horse at this time... Well, he said, I just brought him to ride along with Jack. Do you mind if I throw my saddle on him and check out your property. We said, sure, go ahead. Well he rode that horse around my place and then returned and asked if I wanted to take him for a spin. Of course I could not turn that down so off I went. OMG... he was awesome. A very forward horse who neck reined like a dream. He was an Appy with an indian shuffle and a lope to die for. Coggins said he was 22. His ride was great but I was concerned about his back and his age. Being the "horse trader" that R was he ended up leaving Chief with us to try out. Had the Vet out. He said back would be no problem and we could expect 1-5 years depending on how old he actually was. Well after riding him a few times we decided to go ahead and get him for company for Jack. It was the best decision I have ever made. No words to describe what a great horse. Neither his age or his sway back ever slowed him down. On the ground he seemed like a sweet old man but the minute he was tacked up he was a different horse. Head held high, prancing..He always wanted to go, could run like the wind, beat my 8 year old on barrels, trail blazed threw anything, and even did some jumping. We had 10 wonderful years with him and he never had any physical problems. Sadly he lost most of his teeth even with regular floating. He died of choke at 33+ last year. Vet could not get it loose and suggested that he likely had a tumor
. It was devastating but I would not have missed out on him for the world..
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post #9 of 13 Old 08-19-2013, 03:52 PM
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I ride/exercise an Oldenberg with a pretty severe swayback. He is not really effected by the flaw, but I have noticed that it gets worse when he is out of work. When his back muscles weaken, his gaits get pretty choppy and hard to ride. With some excercise and conditioning, it usually improves again. Just make sure to keep his top line as muscular and built as you can. His really seems to affect his shoulder action when he is out of shape.
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post #10 of 13 Old 08-19-2013, 04:05 PM
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My 28 year old mare has a very slight, probably mostly age-related, sway [she has a long back and a weak loin connection - a sway was inevitable] and I can guarantee you that it makes her uncomfortable at times.

She can handle short bareback rides but anything longer than about 15 minutes and she starts fussing for her rider to get off.
Saddle fit is a real issue. Her sway is extremely mild, yet I haven't found a saddle that doesn't bridge. With a little extra padding, she's fine...but still. And after longer rides [2+hrs], her back is usually always mildly sensitive...so I try to avoid riding her for really long periods.

Thanks to her back, she also has a weight limit of about 150-160lbs. She just can't handle more than that.

Anyway, all I'm saying is that that sway IS going to catch up to this guy sooner rather than later. I got my girl at 23, only 7 years older than your guy, and all of that^ was as true then as it is now - and she had been fully retired since age 11!!
I love my mare more than anything and I would bring her home again, sway or no, but a sway isn't something to take lightly.

Here's a picture, so you can see jut how mild it is! Mild but so frustrating. Haha




Good luck. Personality-wise, he sounds wonderful!!
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