Sway back? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 06-28-2012, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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Sway back?

Hi there,

I came across a young horse for sale (about 4) that I was considering looking at as a prospect proect/resale. He seems to somewhat have a sway back, although not severe, it is noticable. Since I have never dealt with a swaybacked horse I was wondering....

A) Is this because he's not worked and has an obvious hay belly? Would it get better with good flatwork? I ride/have ridden upper level dressage, so I have the ability to get a horse using his body correctly.
B) If it is conformational, is it detrimental to his health or ability to be ridden/worked? Or is it merely cosmetic?

I'm not sure where to put this, so I hope this is a semi-appropriate section of the forum.
Thank you!!
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post #2 of 5 Old 06-28-2012, 10:24 PM
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It depends on the severity of the sway back. Hay belly does not mean the horse has a sway back - often it will just have a fat belly and lack muscle over the topline which creates the appearance of a sway back.
A true sway back involves an accentuated curve of the actual spine, not just the muscles over the topline.
This can be genetic or due to excess stress on the horses spine. I have seen a horse develop a sway back over a period of 3 years, due to carrying an excessively overweight rider with very little balance, in campdrafting competitions. The horse has finally been retired, but had a perfectly fine back when he was purchased, it is now substantially swayed.

If this horse's back is truely swayed, and only mild, then it shouldn't cause any HUGE problems, though you may find it difficult to fit a saddle and keep his back sound - regular chiro/massage treatment may be required. If you can build up his topline then that will help to support the spine, and he may appear nearly normal over the back in due time.
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post #3 of 5 Old 06-29-2012, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Kayty! I saw a video of him and his build really does just seem strange. I can't decide if it's lack of muscling, a ridiculously high wither (he is a TB cross afterall haha), or if he's truely swaybacked.

I'm happy to hear that it shouldn't cause any major issues, but I'm also not sure that I'd want to fork out for regular massage/chiro care (I don't even do that for my preformance horse) if he is swaybacked and doesn't have the soundest back. Plus, I certainly can't afford another number of thousand dollars for a new saddle. Definitely a consideration - especially since I would like him for a semi-short term project while my boy gets back on his feet.

Here's the youtube link to the video - can someone tell me what is going on with his build? He has nice movement and everything but I just can get over his back...

ETA...he's the bay with the face marking.

Last edited by Tigo; 06-29-2012 at 12:31 PM.
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post #4 of 5 Old 07-01-2012, 07:48 AM
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He moves ok, but if I was looking at him for myself I would pass due to that back, he's also fairly long through his body which is going to weaken his back further.
If you're looking for a short term project I definitely think you could find something better.
I also noticed that he has a tendency to balance with his neck and front legs, when he canter-halts, instead of sitting behind to come to a stop, he jams on the breaks and tips onto his front legs.
Looking for a dressage prospect, I always look for something that sits back and then pushes off the hind legs to go again. That was a big reason why I bought my youngster, looking at the video of him at 3 months, he would always sit behind, then push off rather than slam onto his front legs.

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post #5 of 5 Old 07-03-2012, 12:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you very much for your input! It's nice to get a second opinion. You made some pretty good points there, so I'll probably take your advice now that you've pointed all of that out.

Thanks again, I really appreciate your advice!
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