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APHAforlife 03-19-2012 10:20 AM

Solving problems with "Roach back" ... Any advice?
 
I have a 7yr APHA mare that coliced 2 years ago, it was impaction from the alfalfa we had been purchasing. We had her flushed, on medication, and she came back from it without a problem. Although within that year I started noticing her back (spine) was beginning to protrude, I thought it was because of all the time she had off working from the colic incident...so I began working her in the roundpen and lightly riding every couple of days.

It just seemed to get worse and worse, so I started doing some research and found that the most plausible explanation is "roach back" which is supposedly more common than most. Now, from the pictures I saw she would be considered "bony backed" where her vertebrae are close to the skin due to lack of back and hind quarter muscle, caused from a lack of using those correctly when ridden and working. Here is an article I found on it:

Understanding And Curing A Roach Backed Horse


"In some cases of roach back, a steedís back may appear bony, maybe even spiky. This is due to the horse not using his back and hindquarters like she normally should and as a consequence very little muscle has developed there. This means the deformed vertebrae is close to the skin, making the back look bony. To deal with this issue and get your roach back horse ready for at least horse riding sprees, you need to bolster muscle development in those bony regions. How? Try using backing.
Backing would force your mare to use her hindquarters and her back, and that in turn would prompt muscle development in the right places. When done right, eventually your mare would develop just the right amount of back muscle that would cover the bony appearance. Extend the use of backing to develop lateral muscles by backing in circles in a round pen."


My biggest concern, is that she NEVER had this problem before. She was trained correctly and has always moved wonderfully with both front and hind end. I thought for awhile perhaps she threw her back out when rolling during her colic, but the vet said that was very unlikely. He said that she needs plenty of exercise, to gain weight, and work on building those muscles up. But it has been over a year and she is still suffering from the same problem. I have had the farrier work on her hind hooves to see if her slight cow hock might have had anything to do with it and so far that has not helped much either.


With summer coming up, I want nothing more than to see my baby get better, no matter how long it takes and whether or not I get to ride. If you have read all of this, God Bless you and your patience :-)



I was hoping to see if anyone else has had any experiences with this condition, and or if anyone has advice OTHER than just spending 3 months backing her in circles, there has got to be something else I can do to help her progress and build that muscle? Any advice and or personal stories would be of wonderful help and much appreciated!


http://i1232.photobucket.com/albums/...5/DSCF9668.jpg


P.S. I am sorry I currently do not have any better pictures uploaded, but you can see right behind the pad where her back is bony, this is the latter half of it, I would say there are about 8 vertebrae total that protrude like this.

mls 03-19-2012 01:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by APHAforlife (Post 1414208)
Although within that year I started noticing her back (spine) was beginning to protrude, I thought it was because of all the time she had off working from the colic incident...so I began working her in the roundpen and lightly riding every couple of days.

It just seemed to get worse and worse, so I started doing some research and found that the most plausible explanation is "roach back" which is supposedly more common than most. Now, from the pictures I saw she would be considered "bony backed" where her vertebrae are close to the skin due to lack of back and hind quarter muscle, caused from a lack of using those correctly when ridden and working. Here is an article I found on it:


My biggest concern, is that she NEVER had this problem before. She was trained correctly and has always moved wonderfully with both front and hind end. I thought for awhile perhaps she threw her back out when rolling during her colic, but the vet said that was very unlikely. He said that she needs plenty of exercise, to gain weight, and work on building those muscles up.

P.S. I am sorry I currently do not have any better pictures uploaded, but you can see right behind the pad where her back is bony, this is the latter half of it, I would say there are about 8 vertebrae total that protrude like this.

Your vet is correct. In the photo I can see her ribs. Most certainly needs weight!

A mild roach can be hidden by a fit horse. From the little I can see of her back, it is not roached - she is simply thin and under conditioned.

I would suggest blood work and a muscle biopsy if it's been 2 years.

kassierae 03-19-2012 03:02 PM

Also, a roach back does not just "appear". It is conformational. Conformation does not change.
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smrobs 03-19-2012 03:26 PM

I have to agree with MLS, there is something more serious going on here if you've been trying to get her weight up for 2 years and she is still as ribby and undermuscled as she looks in the picture.

Lack of good weight can cause a lot of things to look worse than they are. I had a colt that dropped a bit of weight after he was gelded and he gained the appearance of a slight roach back. Once I got the weight back on him, that appearance went away.

I would be much less concerned about her back than I would be about the reason why she hasn't been able to regain her weight after 2 years.

kassierae 03-19-2012 03:54 PM

Also, a roach back does not just "appear". It is conformational. Conformation does not change.
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kassierae 03-19-2012 03:55 PM

not sure why it posted twice o.o
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APHAforlife 03-19-2012 04:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smrobs (Post 1414595)
I have to agree with MLS, there is something more serious going on here if you've been trying to get her weight up for 2 years and she is still as ribby and undermuscled as she looks in the picture.

Lack of good weight can cause a lot of things to look worse than they are. I had a colt that dropped a bit of weight after he was gelded and he gained the appearance of a slight roach back. Once I got the weight back on him, that appearance went away.

I would be much less concerned about her back than I would be about the reason why she hasn't been able to regain her weight after 2 years.


I forgot to mention, this picture is from the fall of '11. She has put on about 75lbs, she looks better now but I just wanted to use it as an example since I don't have anything more recent. It has improved slightly, after the weight gain and with work but it is just taking so long to correct/condition I was worried it will not be correctable...is it just a very elongated process dependent upon how much weight she had lost (she lost about 150lbs from a week before her colic bout to the 3-4 months after).

spirit88 03-19-2012 04:15 PM

She needs weight and she doesnt have a roached back that doesnt just just happen that is conformational problem. When a horse is to skinny the back bone can stick up making it look roached when it truley isnt. Weight will solve that if youv been trying for two years to put weight on her id say theres something serious going on. Get a vet out ASAP.

loosie 03-19-2012 10:10 PM

Agree that without more info/pics I wouldn't think it's a 'roach back'. This is a conformational thing, often congenital, but I don't agree *necessarily* that 'conformation is unchangeable'. There are definitely many conformational aspects that aren't changeable, but also many that are, including, I believe, some cases of 'roach back'. Even bones can remodel.

mls 03-20-2012 10:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by APHAforlife (Post 1414666)
I forgot to mention, this picture is from the fall of '11. She has put on about 75lbs, she looks better now but I just wanted to use it as an example since I don't have anything more recent. It has improved slightly, after the weight gain and with work but it is just taking so long to correct/condition I was worried it will not be correctable...is it just a very elongated process dependent upon how much weight she had lost (she lost about 150lbs from a week before her colic bout to the 3-4 months after).

However, she still should not be taking two years to put weight back on!

When my filly was so sick last April - she went from being a bulky QH to an emaciated fence post within a couple of weeks. Still eating, drinking, etc. Doctors ran every test they could think of to try and determine why the drastic weight loss. She had been running a fever but nothing to stop her from eating. She was on banamine for the fever. Probios and electrolytes to try and help.

They threw steriods at her. A spendy long acting antibiotic to counter any infection. In the end - they don't know why she was so sick - or why she recovered. The vets credit a lot to my diligence and love for this mare that she survived and is thriving.

I still feed her a lot to maintain her weight. Nutrena Senior, Nutrena Mare and Foal, SafeChoice, XTN, Calf manna and Empower Boost are all part of her daily diet. Along with free choice hay, water and a salt block.


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