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  1. #1
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    Sep. 21, 2011
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    Default Uneven back soreness

    I'm choosing to post this here since I believe the type of saddle may effect the answer. Horse in question goes in a Butet with ESP panels (fill in gaps on a high wither and lift off spine). Saddle was re-paneled last month because I was sharing it with my other horse and panels got too condensed for correct fit.

    This is some extra background on this complex problem, so skip if you just want the saddle/back soreness part. The horse never goes lame and can do his job well, but for the last few years has been cranky both on the ground and under saddle. He has been tested for EPM, treated with Doxy for (still unresolved) leg crud for 4 months so we ruled out Lyme, has done a short ulcer treatment trial with no results (not scoped), and evaluated by two different vets under saddle and on lunge. On the lunge line he is fairly happy and goes around. Under saddle and on the ground he gets angry at various things. Doesn't like to be brushed or curried on the ground and has a generally sour attitude. Under saddle he gets angry when I apply leg pressure, maybe more at canter than trot. Not sure if he doesn't want to go forward or doesn't like the pressure on his sides. He is a picky eater and has sleep deprivation issues (can get up and down to roll fine outside). He has a tendency to get a muscle tremble in his shoulder/front knee when excited or stopped right after work (existed from the beginning). Bute and banamine trials showed no change. Bloodwork is normal. We are awaiting results on a muscle enzyme exercise test (Edited to add: came back normal) currently and are about to start a Robaxin trial based on the soreness mentioned in the next paragraph. Stomach scope is on the list if those two items don't show results.

    Anyways, both vets looked and said he wouldn't be back sore based on watching him go. This time I made second vet palpate his back anyways because I felt otherwise. He is pretty sore but only on the right side where the back of the panel sits. Could this be saddle related even though it's uneven? Horse is evenly muscled.

    Any other ideas while we are at it? Thanks!
    Last edited by morsekg; Dec. 11, 2012 at 09:14 AM. Reason: Adding results of exercise test



  2. #2
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    Jun. 7, 2006
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    Yes, this sounds saddle related to me. It sounds like attempts are being made with the panels to make up for a lack of fit for the horse from the tree.

    I had a horse in a Tad Coffin that was the same deal -down to getting treated with Doxy ($2,000+ in diagnostics and and and).

    Everything was a conundrum and I thought I'd have to retire my 4yo horse. Bought a new saddle that was custom fitted to him (for much less than the Tad cost, btw) and voila. No more problems.



  3. #3
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    Sep. 21, 2011
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    Lambertville, MI
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    Default

    Thanks for your reply meupadoes. I'm really just confused as to how the horse is only sore on one side and I would hate to go through buying another saddle to find out I was wrong and it's something else. I'm doubtful that he will feel better immediately when trying new saddles, was that the case for you?

    May I ask what custom saddle you got? I'm unsure how I feel about County saddles, but I almost feel like it's my only option. Horse has a wither that is both long and tall and I have very long legs so we are both tough to fit. I tried him in a Pessoa with an alto panel (for high withers) before I re-paneled the Butet and it was a no go.

    Independent saddle fitters don't really exist around me it seems so I did all the fitting of the Butet based on pictures and test saddles with a representative at Beval. Before the Butet I had a Prestige that was too tight in the shoulder for him and put me in a horrible chair seat... I understand how to check for appropriate room at shoulders, wither clearance, and overall saddle balance, but beyond that I'm clueless. My vet, who rides dressage, is going to ask her saddle fitter if she does close contact saddles as well, so maybe I will get some help there. Ugh.



  4. #4
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    Jul. 10, 2008
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    NC
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    Default

    I don't really know, so this is 100% opinion:

    Has anyone looked into a mild or odd case of kissing spines? Could that cause a radiating pain on one side rather than the other? Could it maybe cause random issues when riding and a generalized sour attitude if it went on for awhile? I'm not sure, it was just something I was thinking about.

    My other thought was--if the scope or ulcer treatment does or did not help, then maybe the saddle has something to do with it. I remember hearing somewhere down the line that if the panels (going down the middle) don't open wide enough, it can cause pressure on the spine and cause problems for some horses (or perhaps in this case, on one side). Just some thoughts!

    Fingers crossed for you. Hope you can get it resolved soon!
    Quote Originally Posted by rustbreeches View Post
    [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 19, 2006
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    Default

    Sounds similar to my own personal horse....

    I would definitely look into a problem with the saddle, ulcers and maybe a chiropractor.

    I had a chiropractor work on him last year and identify some very strange and uneven soreness that was helped significantly by a new saddle, accupuncture, Doxy and focusing on riding much straighter so my wiggly pony uses himself evenly and correctly.

    Amazing what a chiro can do when regular vets are unsuccessful sometimes....



  6. #6
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    Jun. 7, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by morsekg View Post
    Thanks for your reply meupadoes. I'm really just confused as to how the horse is only sore on one side and I would hate to go through buying another saddle to find out I was wrong and it's something else. I'm doubtful that he will feel better immediately when trying new saddles, was that the case for you?

    May I ask what custom saddle you got? I'm unsure how I feel about County saddles, but I almost feel like it's my only option. Horse has a wither that is both long and tall and I have very long legs so we are both tough to fit. I tried him in a Pessoa with an alto panel (for high withers) before I re-paneled the Butet and it was a no go.

    Independent saddle fitters don't really exist around me it seems so I did all the fitting of the Butet based on pictures and test saddles with a representative at Beval. Before the Butet I had a Prestige that was too tight in the shoulder for him and put me in a horrible chair seat... I understand how to check for appropriate room at shoulders, wither clearance, and overall saddle balance, but beyond that I'm clueless. My vet, who rides dressage, is going to ask her saddle fitter if she does close contact saddles as well, so maybe I will get some help there. Ugh.
    My horse was pretty much immediately better.

    My most recent custom saddle is a Kent & Masters with a flex tree (which flexes slightly side to side when a horse bends, which other saddles don't do), an adjustable gullet, and custom flocked panels. It was made to spec for me and my horse, and then personally delivered and custom flocked, for a grand total price of $1,800.

    I also have several custom made Albions (also made to spec with personal delivery and custom flocking included), which depending on what leather you get range from $2,500 - $3,500.

    I do not own, but would also recommend, the Black Countrys, which are similar in both price and type to the Albions.

    The (different from the first one I mentioned) horse that I broke at age 3.5 has been with this saddle fitter from the start of his career onwards. He has never had an unsound day in his life.



    I would not touch anything foam filled and French with a 10' pole.

    If you want to educate yourself a little on saddle fitting get Joyce Harman's book on the subject. It is called "The Horse's Pain Free Back and Saddle Fit Book" or something close to it.



  7. #7
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    Apr. 28, 2008
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    Default

    Echo the previous thoughts but also wanted to reassure you that one-sided issues are common -- horses' backs are not completely symmetrical, especially if the horse has a dominant side himself -- it is not at all uncommon to muscle more on one side than the other and thus have a saddle fit worse/cause more problems on one side than the other.

    Can you give him a couple of weeks off, a round of Robaxin and then borrow a friend's better-fitting saddle to try again? That would probably give you closer to a clean slate and give him a little bit to un-sore himself.



  8. #8
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    Sep. 21, 2011
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    Lambertville, MI
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    Quote Originally Posted by fordtraktor View Post
    Echo the previous thoughts but also wanted to reassure you that one-sided issues are common -- horses' backs are not completely symmetrical, especially if the horse has a dominant side himself -- it is not at all uncommon to muscle more on one side than the other and thus have a saddle fit worse/cause more problems on one side than the other.

    Can you give him a couple of weeks off, a round of Robaxin and then borrow a friend's better-fitting saddle to try again? That would probably give you closer to a clean slate and give him a little bit to un-sore himself.
    I will be giving him a bit of a siesta and doing the robaxin as soon as it comes in. Sadly I have never found anyone at my barn to have a saddle that fits him at all. My other horse has a pessoa that I could use which does have a wider gullet, but it would have to be shimmed up to fit since he runs so narrow. Lots of Butets in the barn, Childrec, Pessoa, maybe an Amerigo, and some really old flat ones, lol. One of the tack shops near me actually told me they had nothing that would work when I asked them to come out before...



  9. #9
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    Mar. 13, 2000
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    Or try a shim pad, and shim the areas that need stabilizing? That has worked great on my horse. Mattes has one something like $200 or so.



  10. #10
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    Dec. 13, 2002
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    We know the Amerigo won't fit him without shims. Doesn't fit his girl friend built alot like him. Although, you are more than welcome to try it. It is a thought to try to shim just the right back side of the saddle. Although would that put pressure on the other side?



  11. #11
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    Nov. 13, 2009
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    Has anyone done flexions on his hocks? Hock pain can cause back pain, and it is sometimes one sided. What you say about him being pissy on the ground and about going forward under saddle is also consistent with hock pain. Hock pain also does not always make them obviously lame all the time.

    I'd at least have a vet flex him if you have not already.



  12. #12
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    Sep. 21, 2011
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    Lambertville, MI
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineAlready View Post
    Has anyone done flexions on his hocks? Hock pain can cause back pain, and it is sometimes one sided. What you say about him being pissy on the ground and about going forward under saddle is also consistent with hock pain. Hock pain also does not always make them obviously lame all the time.

    I'd at least have a vet flex him if you have not already.
    No, he has not had flexions done, but I have wondered about it. I mentioned hocks to the vet who found the back pain and she said if that were the case he would be reluctant to lift his hind legs. When it comes to picking his hind hooves he lifts them very high (I asked about shivers, but evidently that's when they have trouble bringing it back down after, which he doesn't have). He is 11 years old so marginal on age for a hock issue, but he is very tall and big. If it were hock pain wouldn't he improve on bute?



  13. #13
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    Sep. 21, 2011
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    I also just read about a horse with similar issues (but not quite as many, lol) as a result of SI issues. He does have a hunter's bump that he acquired a few years ago so if anyone has more details about that I'd love to hear your story.

    I talked to my vet again this morning when she gave me test results and she really doesn't think hocks because he is so sound but said she would certainly come do flexions if I'd like. While I'd love to just do everything at once I'm thinking I will get him going on the robaxin and look into the saddle first (as much as the thought of buying another saddle kills me).



  14. #14
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    Jul. 10, 2008
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    NC
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    Quote Originally Posted by morsekg View Post
    I also just read about a horse with similar issues (but not quite as many, lol) as a result of SI issues.
    Yes! I forgot about that--also a possibility, and very easily maintained/treated depending on the severity.
    Quote Originally Posted by rustbreeches View Post
    [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis



  15. #15
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    Apr. 30, 2009
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    Currituck NC
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    SI could be an issue. Its easy to diagnose and can be injected (my vet recommended just US'ing and injecting in one step).

    I have a gelding who had a mystery rear end lameness that ended up being an SI issue.

    He was the same thing....sound as a dollar on flexions, no ulcer, lyme, epm indications. He wasn't being ridden, but was still acutely back sore. Since injecting he's 100% better...except now we are dealing with feet so haven't had a change to take him for a spin.

    Sometimes one sided soreness can be from the rider leaning/being stronger to one side if the horse is sensitive.



  16. #16
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    Lifting the hind legs up high like that for hoof picking as you describe is extremely indicative of hock pain. Not all horses respond to bute for hock pain. Mine doesn't. It does not sound like you are getting very good vet advice. Hock flexions are a very standard, very cheap thing that should be done during any physical assessment for back pain.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
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    Jul. 31, 2007
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    Take the muscular assymetry seriously and as the first symptom to consider for its causes.

    I'd think of:

    Foot pain. Add in hock pain too, if you like. Because horses can't avoid it, they'll hold their body wrong 24/7 to accommodate and create muscle atrophy in weird patterns.

    You riding crooked.

    A chiropractic problem.

    As you are looking around for the cause of the problem and solution, it can be helpful to ride in a western saddle for a while if you must ride. A western saddle will distribute your weight over a broader surface area and give your horse's back a chance to even out as you are doing (correct, back-to-front) work without continuing to press on the already atrophied muscles. Also, lunging in a bitting harness or side reins can help. Here, you are asking the horse to use his body without an offending saddle on his back.

    If/when you have a chiropractor out, ask him to teach you some anatomy and stretches. IMO, chiropractic doesn't work without a lot of physical therapy-like work on the horse in between adjustments.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  18. #18
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    Sep. 21, 2011
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    Lambertville, MI
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    Jumper_girl221 - So is that how SI is diagnosed? Ultrasound?

    FineAlready - I will admit that I was surprised that neither vet offered to do flexions once I read so many people thinking hocks. I probably should have asked, but my mind was going crazy with other questions at the time. Frankly the horse has so many odd symptoms it doesn't surprise me that they wouldn't think it would be something simple. If it's really just his hocks all this time I will be shocked too, but it is certainly on my list now that so many people have suggested it.

    mvp - The issue of crookedness is interesting. I like to shift my hip to the outside when I canter, but I believe I do it evenly both ways (I get comments on it both ways, lol). I'm sure we are all slightly crooked though.
    I will admit that I'm scared of chiropractic after a bad experience I had a few years ago. My horse (one in this post) had been worked on several times in my presence and seemed to enjoy the work (would make happy faces at the guy after each adjustment and look relaxed) and was moving well but I was unable to come out once and sent my husband. My husband (not a horse guy) saw the guy do an adjustment, my horse reared up in his stall hitting his head into a light bulb and breaking it. My horse was off in his shoulder for a good month after that and I haven't used a chiro since. Just the fear that as much as they can help they can so easily hurt.
    I do have a western saddle at my parents' house that I can put him in (18.1 TB in a western saddle will be a funny sight!) and I made contact with a saddle fitter who is going to come out either right before or after Christmas.

    Thanks to everyone for your input, I appreciate your help!



  19. #19
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    That's what my vet....she US'ed and looked for damage to the ligament, and then injected the steriod directly into the lesions where the SI had minor "tears".

    She said something about every horse she's had that she's injected that's improved has had those lesions....but not every horse with the lesions that she's injected has improved....if that makes sense.



  20. #20
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    Nov. 8, 2010
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    My thoughts through reading this as a vet:

    flexions of all four limbs- I have had hock pain result in sore backs focal or widespread depending on how they compensate. Coffin joint or foot pain can also cause back pain, unwillingness to go forward, poor attitude under tack.

    SI pain can also cause these symptoms. Ultrasound and palpation of spine will help diagnose changes and amount of pain.

    Bloodwork for cushings- glucose, cortisol and insulin levels. Can do pre grain cortisol and 6-8 hr post. Usually do one draw. Can also do a dex suppression test. Cushings can cause muscle pain, poor performance, skin issues and definate foot pain. I have a few horses that fit this group of symptoms that after testing positive or high normal have been on pergolide and the symptoms improve greatly.

    Saddle fit- this is especially true if he has changed shape in last 3-4 months, thin line makes a great pad for sore backs but it won't fix a bad fitting saddle

    This is where I would start at least to rule out easy to diagnosis diseases and start narrowing down the list.

    Heather Farmer



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