How to Fix a Cold Backed Horse

September 07, 2017 2 min read

Cold Backed: What is it?

The term “cold-backed” surprisingly has nothing to do with temperature of the horses back, but instead, is used to describe a horse showing symptoms of a sensitive or painful back. The symptoms can range from very mild, such as discomfort when the girth is tightened, to more serious, such as bucking. These symptoms can linger until the horse has warmed up and 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 cold-back 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 causes them to readjust their posture to counteract this discomfort.

Symptoms of Cold-Backed Horses:Cold Backed Horse

  1. Stiffness through the back during the first few minutes of walk.
  2. Refusal or reluctance to let you mount from the ground.
  3. Discomfort when girth is tightened.
  4. Reacting to the saddle, such as dipping or bridging the back when it is placed.
  5. Soreness and/or sensitivity to grooming over the back.
  6. Bucking during exercise.
Your vet, saddle fitter, and equine physiotherapist (or Chiropractor) may need to work together to establish the cause.

How to Quiet the Symptoms:

  1. Tighten the girth slowly.
  2. Stretch the horse properly after tacking up (before mounting).
  3. Walk the horse before you mount (mount from a higher place than the ground such as a fence or mounting block).
  4. Allow ample warm up under saddle and try different grooming tools (we are a big fan of the Posture Prep, made by Dr. Pat Bona >>> Check it out here).
The problems associated with a cold back are almost always treatable. Prevention is better than cure, so taking care of your horses back is important and will help them stay fit and healthy.

What else can you do to soothe your horses tense back?

Benefab® by Sore No-More® offers a variety of saddle pads including Western, Fitted, All-Purpose, and Dressage designs. These saddle pads have a soft spine that naturally sits into the underside of the saddle, adding no pressure on the horses’ back. The specialized, ceramic-infused fabric emits far-infrared rays keeping the back muscles supple and relaxed. Our saddle pads helps harmonize bodily functions safely and naturally stimulating recovery time, promoting blood circulation, increasing Oxygen flow and ultimately reducing pain and stiffness. The material is breathable with wicking qualities (making it comfortable for year-around use) with an anti-slip underside. We also offer our patent-pending SmartScrim which features ceramic-infused fabric in addition to 90 medical-grade magnets placed over key acupuncture points for targeted healing of those areas. Each magnet is enclosed in a soft, neoprene cushion for enhanced comfort and sewn into place.


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