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"Cold Backed" Horse Humps Back in Canter

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    Originally posted by IterAndEra View Post

    I like your idea. So interesting. There is a train of thought going about my girl that it is all stressy TB mare tension that gets worse in the cold. Hope it's as easy a girth issue

    Were they cranky about being tacked up? She is not cranky at all about being girthed up but is grouchy about having the saddle pad rearranged before I girth up. Is your thought that it is the nerves under her girth area being triggered by the movement of the hair pulling and that is why you shave?

    Vet said to try a Tad Coffin girth but it's almost $400 which is way out of the budget. I school in a fleece one. Would you suspect girthy even though it seems seasonal?

    Thanks for your info.
    The one mare that had almost the same exact symptoms as your mare wasn't really cranky about being tacked in the winter, but when you girthed her up (I always have girthed in stages, so it's not like I was baling it into her) she would cock her head sideways and grind her teeth, ears up, never tried to nip or cowkick. And she didn't do it in the warmer weather. She had been an unraced young TB mare, but really pretty mellow in general, but with a bucky/lunge thing for transistions into the canter. She would hump up a bit when you first got on her, wether she was lunged or not, but didn't buck. She would set her back down and relax and work really well through her top line after just a few minutes, so we called her cold backed. She was throughly vetted at Leesburg vet hospital, chiro'd, massaged, etc. Nothing was found, so we just figured it was a training thing that she'd probably grow out of since she was otherwise so good about everything.

    We figured out she was girthy in a couple of ways. The first was that she destroyed her blanket one night and the only extra I had while hers was out to be repaired was the belly band one. She was immediately better to ride the very next day. We kept the belly band blanket on her and she got to the point where she would barely buck for a stride or two after the canter transition.

    The second point, was that we started her jumping. (She was 4). We always lunged our horses over fences for a few sessions before they had their first under saddle jumping session, and without fail, she would warm up w/t on the lunge, buck a few strides into the first few canters on the lunge, and bucking explosion after jumping even a little crossrail on the lunge. So we started thinking that maybe she wasn't cold backed, but girthy. I had been riding her in a regular leather girth with an elastic end with a fleece girth cover. We switched her to a synthetic girth with no cover. Our thinking was that the girth would "slide" a little back and forth and not feel so confining to her. Again, immediate improvement, but still not perfect. So along the same line of thinking, we did a surgical blade clip along her girthline. After that, she would RARELY even hump up her back for mounting, canter transitions, or jumping efforts. After about a year, she was showing local shows and cleaning up, with never a buck in sight.

    Anyway, hope things go well with figuring out what's going on with your girl. It's worth trying some things "out of the box" like we did to see if it helps.


    edited to add--the girth that we used for her was the generic synthetic girth from Bartville Harness in PA. It had a bit of a waffle weave texture to it, elastic on one end, straight not contoured, and only cost $35.
    Last edited by Chestnut Run; Jan. 20, 2013, 11:27 AM. Reason: about girth


      Originally posted by IterAndEra View Post
      She is a horrible lunger - she falls in on the right and it ends up being rather unproductive with her trotting around doing her best not to use herself. Also, because she exhibits the same humping behavior on the lunge line I'd really like to get to the bottom of the issue

      Do your horses exhibit the same humped back canter stuff?
      The really bad one has times when her back is 'too up' and she sort of 'tip toes' around. And other times when she just bucks your ass off righteously! Actually, it took her almost 2 years to learn to longe well. She could walk and trot but took off at the canter like a nut job. She was just unbalanced, over powered, and it would scare her.

      I have a lot of ground work skills, so for horses that 'fall in' on a shoulder I work then on the rope halter for a good, long, time. Months, if that is what it takes for them to get their bodies strengthened/organized. If a rope halter is not your 'thing,' then you can look into 'in-hand' dressage work. Working the horse in a shoulder fore/shoulder in position on the ground.

      Really, with skilled practitioners, you will see that much the same things can be addressed with rope halter or with 'in-hand' dressage work. But some folks prefer one to the other.
      "Friend" me !


        You went galloping on the beach ?!?! I'm sooooo jealous!
        "Friend" me !


          Original Poster

          Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
          You went galloping on the beach ?!?! I'm sooooo jealous!
          So much fun! I highly recommend it - and so does my horse's massage therapist! A good gallop to stretch and relax Miss' tense muscles.

          Also had the chiro/vet out to check her over. After a full investigation he adjusted her sacrum and it released her back. No SI issues, just a routine adjustment. She was very happy. Back to the beach Sunday!


            Originally posted by joiedevie99 View Post
            My first step would be to shoot some x-rays of the back and neck. If those are clean, I'd probably inject and rehab the SI and see where that got me.
            SI was my thought as well. Trot was fine, canter was a WRECK with my horse when his was out. One injection and he's been a new horse.


              If you have checked soundness issues and the horse does it regardless of whether or not it is wearing a saddle, then the horse may just need to be told to Get Over It And Keep Going.

              I rode a Morgan mare in TX that hadn't cantered for like the whole two years the owner had it, because on the two times that the owner tried, she crow hopped, kicked out, and pinged around.

              I rode her a few times and told her, "You're going to canter. The end. Nobody cares about your thoughts on the matter."

              This was the first canter:

              This was two weeks later:


              Once she figured out that she could call the ASPCA all she wanted and nobody was going to come for her, she cantered around.
              The Noodle
              Boy Wonder
              The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!


                Original Poster

                Once she figured out that she could call the ASPCA all she wanted and nobody was going to come for her, she cantered around. [/QUOTE]

                Haha. Sounds about right. When she humps her back now I go into two point and press her forward and sit down again. She gets the idea and puts her back down again. The ear pinning has subsided (for now anyway) so I don't think it's pain.