Muscle Wastage - The Horse Forum
 7Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 17 Old 11-28-2016, 10:56 PM Thread Starter
Foal
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 54
• Horses: 4
Muscle Wastage

My mare Pepper is 14 years old and 15.1hh. Previously used as a kid's horse, so I have no idea how she has the wasted muscle in her back like she does. I didn't realize how sunken in her back was until I rode her bareback yesterday. HOO boy! Let's just say it was not very pleasant.

I don't care so much about how uncomfy it is to ride her bareback as much as how uncomfy I fear Pepper is, under saddle or not. She obviously had a very poorly fitting saddle in her past, and though she may never be FULLY recovered and filled out, I want her back to the point I don't sit directly on her spine. She already has high withers!

Pepper has gone practically unridden for a couple years and is just barely being transitioned out of a circumstances induced retirement, so her being on pasture has obviously not helped at all despite what I've read elsewhere. I am VERY lightly and very briefly riding her about a couple times a week now. I intended on getting her under an english saddle, but with this back wastage, I'm not so sure. She's never been backsore and doesn't show signs of being anxious or in pain under saddle. I'm mostly worried about making it worse.

SO, background aside, does anyone have experience with back muscle wastage in horses? And, more importantly, do you have any advice for treatments and exercises that have yielded tangible and good results? I know this will be a long process, but I'd like to at least get something started before the snow starts coming down.

PS, for those who remember, Pepper's feet are now in great condition ;)
VeryCoolSword is offline  
post #2 of 17 Old 11-28-2016, 11:02 PM
Showing
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: OK
Posts: 14,089
• Horses: 9
Pics???

A lot of times the older ones will just lose condition when they aren't ridden. If they're also in a situation where they lost a bunch of weight because they weren't being fed, you can get a pretty grim looking thing going on. I feed Lysine in addition to feeding them for what they SHOULD way, so they'll pick up weight.

Dreamcatcher Arabians is online now  
post #3 of 17 Old 11-28-2016, 11:18 PM Thread Starter
Foal
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 54
• Horses: 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamcatcher Arabians View Post
Pics???

A lot of times the older ones will just lose condition when they aren't ridden. If they're also in a situation where they lost a bunch of weight because they weren't being fed, you can get a pretty grim looking thing going on. I feed Lysine in addition to feeding them for what they SHOULD way, so they'll pick up weight.
Hahaha, I knew I needed pictures! I'll get some tomorrow when it's light out, hopefully! If not, then the next day. Darn daylight savings.

I am pretty certain it's not a weight thing. My mare Foxy got gravely ill to the point her body condition was about to a 2, then stayed quite thin for about year until she came back to me. Definitely saw wastage there. She's now back to being fat as a tick (her true state) and despite being retired for three years, her back remains in excellent condition. Everyone's well fed and good weight, with Pepper being in the middle of the pecking order, Foxy being last. Likewise, Pepper's sister has a nice looking back. I'm quite sure that Pepper's back condition was due to an ill fitting saddle or some sort of outside source.

I'll definitely look into Lysine! Thank you for the advice! I'll be sure to monitor her weight as well. I can never tell if she's fat or just carries all that healthy weight in her potbelly

EDIT: Her not being exercised is a definite possibility as well, but as I stated above, the others still have good condition even though they're retired as well, with one of them being around 17.
VeryCoolSword is offline  
post #4 of 17 Old 12-07-2016, 10:18 PM
Yearling
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: west coast
Posts: 1,484
• Horses: 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by VeryCoolSword View Post
My mare Pepper is 14 years old and 15.1hh. Previously used as a kid's horse, so I have no idea how she has the wasted muscle in her back like she does. I didn't realize how sunken in her back was until I rode her bareback yesterday. HOO boy! Let's just say it was not very pleasant.

I don't care so much about how uncomfy it is to ride her bareback as much as how uncomfy I fear Pepper is, under saddle or not. She obviously had a very poorly fitting saddle in her past, and though she may never be FULLY recovered and filled out, I want her back to the point I don't sit directly on her spine. She already has high withers!

Pepper has gone practically unridden for a couple years and is just barely being transitioned out of a circumstances induced retirement, so her being on pasture has obviously not helped at all despite what I've read elsewhere. I am VERY lightly and very briefly riding her about a couple times a week now. I intended on getting her under an english saddle, but with this back wastage, I'm not so sure. She's never been backsore and doesn't show signs of being anxious or in pain under saddle. I'm mostly worried about making it worse.

SO, background aside, does anyone have experience with back muscle wastage in horses? And, more importantly, do you have any advice for treatments and exercises that have yielded tangible and good results? I know this will be a long process, but I'd like to at least get something started before the snow starts coming down.

PS, for those who remember, Pepper's feet are now in great condition ;)
Definitely need pictures

The impression from your OP I am getting is that this had come on somewhat suddenly? Or maybe not? You say she had an ill-fitting saddle in the past - how long ago? Did she gain the muscle back correctly after time off/fitting tack?

IMHO, it sounds pretty obvious why she's lost muscle - she was in work, and now you said she's been sitting in the pasture for a couple of years. I'm also curious what you mean by "despite what I've read elsewhere" ...why would pasture help with muscle? Of course she will lose muscle by not working. It takes time and being worked correctly to gain muscle back (along with properly fitting tack, as you know).
beverleyy is offline  
post #5 of 17 Old 12-08-2016, 04:25 AM
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 22,583
• Horses: 0
Agree with others & I'm a bit confused as to what perplexes you about the muscle wastage, when you say she's had a very bad saddle and has also not been worked for years, hasn't had much exercise. If in that time, she was on a steep, sparsely pastured paddock where she had to travel up & down regularly for feed & water, she may have got enough good exercise to get over previous body issues, but I'm assuming 'pasture' is the normal, 'nice' flattish, easy living setup.

In addition to the badly fitting saddle & lack of exercise, other possibilities could be some other untreated back/body issue, or that she has developed Cushings or IR probs, which commonly lead to topline wastage & 'dropped' backs. & then of course, if her feet are terribly balanced, that (like women that wear high heels) is going to effect her back too.
gottatrot and beverleyy like this.
loosie is offline  
post #6 of 17 Old 12-08-2016, 07:13 AM
Started
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: CT
Posts: 1,808
• Horses: 0
A thorough vet visit is the first stop to rule out metabolic disease and other conditions. A good vet can also help you evaluate your grain and hay (or point you to someone who can).

Quality muscles needs a high amount protein, amino acids and fats. Topline BEGINS with diet, and then once they have the building blocks from diet you can add proper work to shape the muscles.
Dehda01 is offline  
post #7 of 17 Old 12-08-2016, 06:15 PM
Started
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: East Texas
Posts: 1,999
• Horses: 5
1. Is the muscle loss in one area or all along her back? Is it only on one side of her back, or even on both sides of her back? Exactly how much muscle loss has there been? And over what period of time? (Pictures would be great.)

2. What kind of workload has she had recently? How long ago did she have an ill-fitting saddle? If she has been recently, has a well-fitted saddle been used? What kind of saddle pad has been used?

3. Have you noticed a change in attitude, ability to work, coordination, movement (normal gaits?)? Has she had any history of recent lameness or injury?

4. What is her diet like? By weight, how much forage and what type as well as how much concentrate and what type?

Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
Ryle is offline  
post #8 of 17 Old 12-09-2016, 07:29 AM
Trained
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Middle Tennessee
Posts: 9,422
• Horses: 0
Nobody wants to hear this but ----- PLEASE have the vet out to evaluate and draw blood.

The horse is plenty old enough to be developing Cushings. There could also be other reasons for muscle waste the vet could look for.

I have learned from my own experiences that muscle wasting means some form of metabolic issue.

My 22 yr old that's is healthy doesn't get much exercise because I can't ride like I used to. He has 20+ acres to roam on but doesn't go too far and rarely runs. He needs to lose some weight but believe me he is still a powerhouse of muscle.

My 21 year old is insulin resistant with a lot of old injuries --- he has muscle waste and from your description of your horse, still nothing as bad as you describe.

While pictures would be good, and degree of muscle waste is in the eyes of the owner, you need to call your vet if it's as bad as you describe.
loosie likes this.

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.

I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
walkinthewalk is online now  
post #9 of 17 Old 12-12-2016, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
Foal
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 54
• Horses: 4
Post

Sorry all, figured this thread died so I'll get back on with replies. Here's my War and Peace sized response:

This poor topline was not sudden; she's had it since she was purchased in 2014. I remember seeing her briefly (she and the others were staying with about 300 miles away w/ family while we were in moving limbo and didn't have land) and thinking "man is her back bad." It could have improved (I think it has, especially as she's put on good, solid weight) but I don't have proper documentation from when we first got her to know. She popped off the trailer for thirty minutes in Utah for me to see, which was where we lived at the time, then was ferried to Idaho for a year.

I can't say for sure it was an ill fitting saddle, but many topline issues can arise from an ill fitting saddle. She's been testy getting tacked up, and has been extremely anxious before I mount. Pawing, pushing, prancing. She stopped completely as soon as I managed to get on and we had a pleasant walk around the pasture. However, it could be bit anxiety (she had a horrifying set of teeth that no doubt caused her great pain for a long time) or general riding anxiety. She hasn't seemed cold backed or girthy. A saddle fitting book I read brought up the point that the horse doesn't know it's NOT supposed to hurt when tacked up, so they develop behavior issues. However, I'm not sure her issues are back-related. Could be, though.

Finally, I don't know WHEN or HOW she was ridden, ever. All I know is a) she neck reins and b) she ducks her head if I pull to hard on the bit. Kid's horse, probably thinks she can yank the reins out of my hands by ducking. Ha, ha. She's so funny. And c) she's extremely stiff in the neck and distrustful of yielding. The problems are being resolved. The neck reining was a pleasant surprise.

Another thing is I have no clue about these horses' past. Any injuries or vices she had/has were unbeknownst to me. Pepper had a strange limp for at *least* a year and a half, which was recently resolved (finally) with farrier work and a set of shoes over a period of time. Shoes have since been pulled. Other than that, she seems to be a healthy horse.

So, finally, the reasons I am "perplexed" by her muscle wastage is a) she's had it since I purchased her, and likely had it for quite some time before I purchased her, b) it hasn't gotten better with pasture rest, which is the recommendation of many articles and other information sources I've discovered on the internet (which can't slate for a vet exam in person, of course, even though The Internet Is Always Right TM [joking ofc]). It seems every other problem I've had with the beasties can be Googled. I simply can't find solid sources for topline wastage. If she was "worked" (which I doubt, highly, as a lot of horses like her are simply "hobby" horses for kids), it didn't help topline. As I said, it was bad when I got her.

SO, to answer some points y'all brought up:

1) Vet issues: vet didn't say anything about her body condition when he visited her. However, I wasn't there to ask. But nothing about Pepper alarmed him, besides her teeth (hoo boy) and the limp (which was part of the reason for the visit). She's never had any other issues that indicate IR. It's just her back, which most of the topline quality is where a western saddle would sit. Pics aren't possible for a while (blizzards, general death). Sorry. Like I said, I assumed the thread had died, so I shirked my photo duties (whoops). She doesn't have a cresty neck or any abnormalities.

Wastage is on both sides. As mentioned, western saddle area. I've seen some horrible Western saddle set ups. I sadly doubt she was provided with quality tack. Her butt was also pretty pathetic when purchased, but has filled out some.

2) Attitude and movement: as mentioned above, she never seemed cold backed, but got VERY anxious being bridled and mounted. She has scars on the corners of her mouth, so I don't doubt it's a bit/past issue, not a saddle issue. As soon as she understands I'm being gentle on her mouth and as soon as I understood she neck reined, things were peachy. Additionally, the mysterious limp that has since resolved. Had a vet and three farriers check Pepper out with no conclusion, but shoes and trims have seemed to fix her problem, the poor missus.

3) Diet: I was unfamiliar with weighing feed until very recently, so I can't tell you the weight aspect of anything. RIP me. Anyway, she gets about four flakes of good quality alfalfa/grass a day, along with about 6 or 7 cups of sweet feed mixed with two scoops MSM, a scoop of glucosomine, 1 scoop SmartMuscle, 1 scoop hoof supplement. She used to get a large scoop of dry beet pulp pellets too, but the vet said that's a no-no (long story, actually kinda hilarious) so I've cut that out (only because soaking the pulp then bringing it out to pasture in -3 degrees F doesn't seem like a good idea to me).

However, I've watched videos on topline, read a couple books, and I understand now it takes years of diet and training. I've put her on SmartMuscle, MSM, glucosomine, grain, and hoof supplement, along with her hay. I hope these are some first steps toward her building muscle, along with work. Her new saddle fits her like a glove at the moment so I'm confident it won't progress the issue, for now. Ultimately, my understanding was you can't rebuild what you don't have, so the supplements give her what she doesn't have, hopefully.

I intend on getting a chiropractor out her at some point to evaluate and possibly relieve her, and maybe that'll get me some help.

Thank you all very much for the responses! I hope to get some pictures on soon, if only for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure. It feels worse than it looks.) The reason I had reservations about riding was for hindering progression. I'm a mite paranoid, perhaps.
VeryCoolSword is offline  
post #10 of 17 Old 12-13-2016, 03:12 AM
Super Moderator
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 22,583
• Horses: 0
Quote:
Originally Posted by VeryCoolSword View Post
I can't say for sure it was an ill fitting saddle, but many topline issues can arise from an ill fitting saddle. She's been testy getting tacked up, and has been extremely anxious before I mount... She hasn't seemed cold backed or girthy.
Yes, saddle fit is a common problem, but by far not the only one. By the sounds of it, what you describe above IS indeed very 'cold backed' behaviour. Perhaps though you're thinking of it only as collapsing away from you or such & she's not that bad. If she were mine & obviously this unhappy, I wouldn't be riding her. At least until any pain were ruled out. It's possible this 'anxiety' is due to previous remembered pain, not current, or due to previous 'training', but I'd want her to get over that too.

Quote:
b) it hasn't gotten better with pasture rest, which is the recommendation of many articles .... I simply can't find solid sources for topline wastage.
Re the paddock rest, as with us, depends what's wrong. If you're overworked, you've strained something... or such, then some R&R will likely do wonders. But if you've got something 'out', you have permanent damage, etc, then just resting without addressing the issue can even make matters worse - allow a chronic problem to just progress without treatment.

Re the second bit - finding little info - yeah, unfortunately, like deformed hooves for eg, it's one of those things that are so common as to be thought of as 'normal' & ignored by many. (So good on you for paying attention to it!) Along with the fact that vets, unless specialised, don't generally have a huge amount of knowledge/training about body issues. Just like a GP for humans, a specialist like a physio or a chiro are generally called for for body issues.

Quote:
Wastage is on both sides. As mentioned, western saddle area. I've seen some horrible Western saddle set ups.
Yeah but just think a Western saddle particularly covers the whole back, so saying the damage is in that area is not really very specific. And doesn't mean that it's necessarily a saddle fit issue. Of course yes, there are many problem saddles, be they western or otherwise that cause probs, but I'd hazard a guess & say that as a kid's horse(presume little kid), she probably wasn't worked long & hard in a badly fitting saddle, so while the saddle could have been *an* issue, it probably wasn't THE issue, or else it probably would have also resolved, or mostly resolved with rest.

Quote:
She has scars on the corners of her mouth, so I don't doubt it's a bit/past issue, not a saddle issue. As soon as she understands I'm being gentle on her mouth and as soon as I understood she neck reined, things were peachy.
I just think you should be careful about saying 'IT is a bit issue' or such, as just because she has had bit issues too, don't rule out other 'issues'. There may well be multiple issues. And while unyielding hands for eg. can absolutely effect a horse's posture/back also, I'd sus there are back/saddle/whatever other issues too & want them ruled out properly before saying it's just a bit(or such) issue.

Quote:
about 6 or 7 cups of sweet feed mixed with two scoops MSM, a scoop of glucosomine, 1 scoop SmartMuscle, 1 scoop hoof supplement. She used to get a large scoop of dry beet pulp pellets too, but the vet said that's a no-no
Why the sweets? Is she a 'hard keeper' or such? Obviously not in hard work to require the 'high octane' feed. This sort of feed isn't great for horses anyway. I'm guessing the prob with beet pulp was you were feeding it dry. A lot of people believe it can't be fed dry & causes choke, but that's been found to be false, and fed in small quantities, it's fine. Re supps, look into magnesium - that is one mineral I find very important to supp, for a range of reasons.

Quote:
Her new saddle fits her like a glove at the moment
That's great, just be aware if it fits her atrophied back now, hope it's quite adjustable & allows for careful padding, or it won't allow room for improvement, won't fit the shape she may change into.
loosie is offline  
Reply

Tags
back , back exercises , back muscles , sunken back

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The Horse Forum forums, you must first register.

Already have a Horse Forum account?
Members are allowed only one account per person at the Horse Forum, so if you've made an account here in the past you'll need to continue using that account. Please do not create a new account or you may lose access to the Horse Forum. If you need help recovering your existing account, please Contact Us. We'll be glad to help!

New to the Horse Forum?
Please choose a username you will be satisfied with using for the duration of your membership at the Horse Forum. We do not change members' usernames upon request because that would make it difficult for everyone to keep track of who is who on the forum. For that reason, please do not incorporate your horse's name into your username so that you are not stuck with a username related to a horse you may no longer have some day, or use any other username you may no longer identify with or care for in the future.



User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in









Old Thread Warning
This thread is more than 90 days old. When a thread is this old, it is often better to start a new thread rather than post to it. However, If you feel you have something of value to add to this particular thread, you can do so by checking the box below before submitting your post.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
No muscle ThePaintGirl Horse Health 32 04-18-2016 04:04 PM
Mineral lick - minimising wastage? aussiemum New to Horses 15 02-16-2014 08:50 PM
Raising Awareness - 'Wastage' iloverains Horse Talk 3 11-15-2012 07:24 AM
What is 'Muscle Wastage'? LadyNeigh Horse Health 3 12-18-2011 12:31 PM
Needs muscle Shadow Horse Health 1 12-07-2010 04:57 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome