When you think of the temperature on the horse's back, it probably makes you think of the expression "cold-backed", right? This saying is used to describe a horse showing symptoms of a sensitive or painful back. The symptoms can range from a horse being very mildly distressed due to the girth being tightened, to the pain being so unbearable the horse results to bucking.
These symptoms can linger until the horse has warmed up and stretched sufficiently, so that the muscles are relaxed. A cold-backed horse sometimes “sinks” as the rider mounts, hollowing his back to avoid added pressure. Horses didn’t evolve to carry people on their backs, especially with all the paraphernalia (saddles, tack, bits, etc.) that we use for comfort as riders. Therefore, horses must compensate for the extra weight. This means they can develop sensitive nerve endings or a misalignment in the spine as a result.
Some of the most common causes of developing cold-backs include: pressure from a poorly fitting saddle, aggravation of previous injuries to the back muscle, and/or problems with the horse’s teeth or feet which may cause them to readjust their posture to counteract this discomfort.
Your vet, saddle fitter, and equine physiotherapist (or Chiropractor) may need to work together to establish the cause and treatment.
The problems associated with a cold-back are usually treatable. Prevention is better than cure, so taking care of your horses back is important and will help them stay fit and healthy.
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