Back problems in horses: back pain and low back pain

Today, pathologies such as back pain are present in sport horses. They are the direct consequences of our riding and the use of the horse. 

A horse with a healthy back can present problems as a result of “wrong way” work or the equipment used. 

We will describe the different symptoms that should alert you, we will then decipher the functioning of the horse’s back to explain the different lesions during back pain. Finally, we will see the possible treatments and especially the means of prevention .

Symptoms of back pain

A complete veterinary examination , often associated with additional examinations such as x-rays or even sometimes ultrasounds, will confirm a suspicion of back pain.

An osteopath can also relieve your horse of tensions related to bad postures or contractures; Veterinary diagnosis remains essential. 

Among the signals, here are the most common: 

  • Unusual sensitivity to grooming
  • Aggression when saddling or strapping
  • Performance drop
  • Stiffness when working
  • Apprehension of the obstacle (haste or refusal)
  • Back that hollow, lack of engagement of the hindquarters
  • Mounted defenses (kicks, sheep jumping)
  • Irregularity in the paces

During the examination by your veterinarian, he will perform a palpation and manipulation of the entire spine of the horse, thus looking for areas of pain or less mobility. He will then look at your horse’s locomotion: in a straight line, in a loin.

The additional examinations will then make it possible to confirm the diagnosis by highlighting an osteoarticular, ligament or muscular lesion.

How the horse’s back works

The back of the horse is made up of the spine , but also of a ligament which covers the whole called the nuchal ligament then supraspinatus . Numerous muscles located on both sides of the spine, as well as in the pelvis and abdomen ; they are also essential for the proper functioning of a horse’s back. 

The horse’s back is compared to a “tight bow” :

  • The spine plays the role of the arch
  • The muscles, especially the abdominals, play the role of the rope

It is a constant balance between muscles and columns that allows you to wear and function well. 

Hence the importance of having a muscular horse, because without muscles the tension decreases and the muscle / column balance no longer exists. 

The three most common physical injuries are: 

  • The spinous process conflict : prominent formations appear on the upper part of the horse’s vertebrae which will touch each other and lead to bone lesions which are painful especially in the thoracic region (under the saddle). 
  • The lesions of the ligament supraspinatus : they are often associated with back pain in horses. 
  • Arthropathy : it is located in the joints between the vertebrae or intervertebral discs in the lumbar, thoracic, or sacroiliac region. 

These lesions can have several origins:

  • Morphology and genetics of the horse 
  • Premature labor of a growing horse 
  • Work of the horse as a whole
  • Poor development of the abdominal muscles .
  • Unsuitable material (saddle)
  • The weight and the lack of balance of the rider

Treatments for back pain in horses

The treatment consists of relieving the pain in order to allow the horse to strengthen its back. 

Your veterinarian may also prescribe medication such as: 

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Infiltrations
  • Mesotherapy 
  • Tiludronate infusion 
  • Shock wave
  • Surgery in the most severe cases. 

An osteopathic follow-up is advised, it will allow during the manipulations to relax the back and thus relieve your horse. 

warm-up phase is essential (stretching, lanyard, walker, etc.) before starting your training session, as well as various breaks in the effort and a recovery time after your work.

The selection of products from our healthcare professionals

Food supplement: Musclonium – Equibao

Musclonium is a supplement formulated specifically to support the muscles of the sport horse during and after exercise .

Allows to restructure the muscles damaged during the effort .

Fight against cramps and muscle pain .

Recommended uses:

– Sport horse during periods of sustained effort .

– Horse prone to myositis (blood stroke), stiffness and muscle cramps.

– Horse whose motivation we want to preserve thanks to better recovery .

Marine Mud – Cavasso

Marine mud is a mixture of marine silt and kelp and wrack algae. Also containing an exceptional amount of mineral salts and trace elements .

Richer and more active than sea water, sea mud can be used all over the horse’s body. It brings comfort to the muscular masses, to the joints .

Objective: Relieve, relax the joints of horses. Provide all the trace elements and minerals that the joints need.

Cape Capsular

The Cape Capsular is used in combination with CapBack refills. It allows a diffusion of the assets in the heart of the organism in a slow, deep and effective way. The Cape intervenes to prevent soft tissue pathologies, back pain and low back pain. 

Relieves inflamed areas

Prevents muscle tension and contractures

Promotes the elimination of toxins

Composition of essential oils present in CapBack Balm : Burdock, Arnica Montana, Scots Pine, Black Spruce, Wintergreen, Vegetable Gums, Geogard. 

100% natural product and certified non-doping.