back pain and saddle fit
My large quarter pony cross is exhibiting signs of back pain similar to something we went through in mid-August. I've had an equine chiropractor do adjustments on him several times and he shows improvement.
His symptoms are stiff gait at the trot in the front right especially. Also, because I believe he is part spotted saddle pony, he resorts to a lateral pace gait in transitions down from the canter to trot whenever his back is sore and he feels unbalanced and is putting all his weight up front to take the pressure off his back end.
I purchased a Thin Line brand "ultra" contour pad last January and that helped immensely. Do you think saddle fit has anything to do with this problem?
I use a Prestige Eventer cross country saddle with foam panels, 17 seat and medium (33 cm) tree. He has bulked up some since I purchased the saddle for him 2 years ago when he was 6 years old. Thanks for any advice!
Could you call saddle fitter out to evaluate? Yes, back pain and signs of being uncomfortable often mean something is wrong with the saddle.
Are you sure it's saddle pain and not heel pain? Hoof pain in the front causes the horse to tighten the muscles which includes the psoas muscle. This is a triangular muscle running across the horse's shoulder and ending behing the withers. When palpating the area one could easily think it is saddle fit when the horse reacts, but not necessarily.
Yes, I agree. Honestly I've heard ppl say they try to make a habit of having a professional evaluate their saddle once a year or so. It makes sense to me and since the tree of the Prestige could be widened by a Prestige dealer, it wouldn't hurt to have someone look at the fit. I'll have the chiropractor out very soon but for peace of mind I'm going to make an appointment with a saddle fitter to check it out as well. Thanks!
Before anyone comes to check him out, hand walk him in a straight line for four or five strides then ask him to turn toward you in a tight turn. Watch to see how he steps or if he shuffles a bit, or stumbles or hops. Straighten him, walk and go the other way, again a tight turn. When he canters is he reluctant to pick up a lead? Or does he try to break down into a trot?
Thanks and I'll try that later today when I'm out at the barn. I had a flat lesson on him last Thursday and we did quite a bit of canter to trot to canter transitions. He didn't seem to have any problems picking up either lead. We'll see how he is today. My friend at the barn who watched me trotting him on Sunday said his walk looks fine and he isn't "head bobbing" at the trot. She observed more of just an "up and down" action of the front legs at the trot instead of his usual nice extension action.
Something a lot of coaches don't pick up on is how balanced you are in the saddle. Many right handed riders put more pressure on the left stirrup because they allow the right hip to collapse. ie the space between the bottom rib and the top of the pelvic bone is shorter than on the other side. The rider then often drops the right shoulder to compensate. This causes the saddle to create extra pressure on the points of the english saddle. Have someone stand directly behind you and take a few pics of you riding just at the walk. Don't wear a jacket, just a blouse tucked in so the waistband is easily seen. If you are well-balanced then at least that has been eliminated as a cause.
Thank you for the advice. I will have someone watch me this weekend. So far this week I've had his feet trimmed (he was at 7 weeks and due anyway) and my equine chiropractor will be out this afternoon to see what's up. My farrier yesterday said his feet look really great. However he did call to my attention the fact that Bobby seems to "wear down" the right side of his right front foot sooner than the inner side. It reminded me of what my running shoes look like on the heels after I've run in them for a period of time. Does anyone know, is that fairly common with most horses or is this a further indication that my horse is altering his gait up front to compensate for pain in his back? We'll see what my chiro say today and then my next step will be to get a saddle fitter out. I love this forum and appreciate the help :)
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