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The mild to moderate roach back performance horse?

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  • The mild to moderate roach back performance horse?

    I am gathering information on this topic and would like first hand stories of those that have owned horses with a mild to moderate roach back.

    Did you horse have a long career or was it limited by his back?

    Did his back require special maintenance during his time riding?

    Did you find it limited his performance-for example, he would jump but only to xxx height, or he could not jump but happily eased down the trail, etc

    How did you manage saddle fit issues?

    Did he end up with premature arthritis, muscle atrophy elsewhere, etc

    Really anything and everything you can share from personal experience OR any professional articles on the topic-with photos if at all possible.

    Did the maintenance create too many struggles to work through it?

    Did the horse require periodic time off to 'recover' from the strain on his back?

    Anyway, you get the picture.

  • #2
    Do you consider this a mild roached back?


    If so, no, no issues anywhere. He is now semi-retired at age 14 due to a traumatic hoof injury.


    • Original Poster

      I would give that a mild rating!

      Thanks for sharing your information.


      • #4
        I have a mare with a mild roach back, but she's also fairly long-backed. She has a little bit of trouble really collecting and using her hind end, especially in her canter, but once you get her there she's got plenty of power to jump- she was schooling 2'9 and occasionally 3ft prior to straining her suspensory last spring. She's also a very rhythmic, consistent dressage horse. Not the flashiest mover maybe, but was scoring well off that consistency and her temperament, which makes her generally pretty willing/submissive. As far as longevity, I can't help you out there- she's just turned 6 this year and is out of work due to the suspensory issue. I have not had any back issues with her to date or saddle fit issues related to the roach back.


        • #5
          reay - the more I look at "roached" backs, the more I see a common theme of being very straight in the back between the withers and the "roach", and it makes me wonder if that gives the illusion of a roach - ?

          dbolte - I wonder if the difficulty in collecting has more to do with the long back rather than the roach - ?
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


          • #6
            Originally posted by JB View Post
            reay - the more I look at "roached" backs, the more I see a common theme of being very straight in the back between the withers and the "roach", and it makes me wonder if that gives the illusion of a roach - ?

            dbolte - I wonder if the difficulty in collecting has more to do with the long back rather than the roach - ?
            That could be true! He also has almost no wither at all. But nevertheless, he could jump up to 4'6''' (although I never jumped him above 3'6'') and could collect and use himself quite well. He was an eventing prospect before I bought him and my A/O horse. I only recall once when he had a sore back, and that was the day after a friend rode him. I guess he didn't like her saddle (which was oddly the same brand and tree size as mine??).


            • Original Poster


              According to that article a roach back horse may have issues collecting...and it has a great photo showing the lumbar/sacrum connection to explain why.

              You can also see the lumbar spine is clearly convex rather than simply straight-though I suppose a straight back would be the 'mildest' for of a convex/roach spine.

              Also the horse I have seen and touched in person clearly has an arched or convex spine, not just straight/flat.

              Of course it would all depend on the degree of roach-i-ness.

              Thanks again for the feedback so far.


              • #8
                Mild to moderate roach DWB gelding, will be 20 in March. I've had him his whole life. I jumped him up to 3'9" through grinds in preparation for his Dutch inspection but for the most part we only jumped 3-3'3" because I didn't want to jump higher anymore, he definitely could have.

                Competed in the A/A hunters until 13 when he tore a suspensory. He came back to being a low to mid level dressage horse but no more jumping. We had to stop cantering about 6 months ago due to stiffening in his back.

                No issue with saddle fits, but only ever wore close contact or dressage saddles (none custom).

                Would I buy this horse again? Hell yeah! Despite being no longer able to canter he's carrying my husband around on the weekends with the chiro's full knowledge and approval.
                Crayola Posse: Violet Blue


                • #9
                  JB- that is exactly why I mentioned the long back- I think it's quite possible that it has something to do with the collection! whether the roach contributes to or amplifies the problem would be a different matter, and I really have no way of knowing that one.... I had a gelding with a REALLY long back, and he had similar collection issues, but could jump the moon.


                  • #10
                    My Hanoverian endurance horse had a roached back that got his sire noted for producing the conformation flaw. It was an advantage - I ride in the Sierras and his high withers and roached back made it so no breastplate or crupper was ever needed - that saddle stayed put. He had no trouble collecting - was an upper level dressage horse in his youth. His back was slightly long but not extreme.

                    No limitations, no special requirements. I don't remember his back ever being sore. He couldn't jump at all


                    • #11
                      The horse with this lovely (not) back and general conformation...(myself whited out in the photo for looking dumb)
                      is the same horse that jumps like this...
                      and moves like this:

                      ...so draw your own conclusions. He's 12 and has evented through the levels since 6 or 7, with periods of time off for random injuries (Mr. Accident Prone), currently running Intermediate successfully. Never had trouble with his back other than working hard in dressage to get him to lift and work through his hindquarters. Maintained on Adequan. Haven't had him be more "tight," sore, or unwilling to engage than other horses with well-conformed backs. His back isn't as bad as some, obviously, but he is my poster child for "pretty is as pretty does." Ugly without tack on, but a great athlete.


                      • Original Poster

                        RS what a shame it ruined the jump in that horse.


                        • #13
                          Good information. There is a roached-back mare that a friend is considering purchasing - I'll direct her to this thread.


                          • #14
                            and my guy's roached back jumping picture:

                            God, I miss jumping and riding this horse! So heavenly.


                            • #15
                              My horse has a very short and moderately roached back. Has collection issues, but no jumping issues--Height NOT a problem....very scopey and super athletic! He can get cranky if you are pounding on his back with a deep seat, but has never had any back soreness issues. He is 10yo at the moment with no back issues. He dabbled in the children's hunters/junior hunters/1st year greens/children's jumpers starting around age 5-6, then I rode in him in the 3'-3'3" divisions for the past 2-3 years.
                              Originally posted by rustbreeches
                              [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis


                              • Original Poster

                                thank you for continuing to share stories...

                                and photos!!! Lovely horses!!!


                                • #17
                                  My TB has a roached back. She's only 6, but has not had back issues so far (knock on wood).

                                  My mare raced until she was four - retired sound. Since then she has been my pleasure horse. She does just about everything, without issue.

                                  Showing the roach:

                                  Her jump (she has carted me over 4 feet, but she is likely going to do 3'3 jumpers this year, to start)

                                  Her movement is fairly nice - very hunterish. She is harder to collect, whether that's due to the roach or her long back (or both), I don't know.

                                  I'd buy her again in a heart beat and hopefully there will be no soundness issues in the future - she's with me for life, either way.
                                  Fit Dog Blog
                                  Twitter: https://twitter.com/FitDogBlog
                                  Blogger: http://fitdogblog.blogspot.ca/
                                  Blog Post: How I Became a Werehorse and a Bit About Bites


                                  • Original Poster

                                    The theme seems to be powerful jump and hard to collect.

                                    I think we will be able to live with that just fine.


                                    • #19
                                      Hi LMH, My new guy has a roach back that is "off" to pretty much the same degree as Prosperous Ponies mare.

                                      He's 8, raced very sucessfully for 4 years, then came up lame (fetlock, nothing to do with his back) during a race. Unfortunately the owner didn't bother to diagnose his lameness so he was thrown in a heard, then they tried to return him to racing a couple times (WTF!!). However, point is that he raced without any back issues and in spite of his downhill, generally weird conformation he actually moves beautifully. I've never had him under saddle (won't happen until the vet clears him, if ever) but I can tell watching from the ground that he has a lovely movement and while I'm sure he may be a little difficult to collect he's naturally quite light on the forehand.


                                      • #20
                                        OTTB 6 years old (raced 3 times as a 3 yr. old), mild roach, long back, knock on wood no issues but the same experience with above posters - powerful jump w/scope, can be hard to collect but it seems that with proper training and muscle development it is getting much easier for him to collect and step underhimself. Saddle fitting was important - get that checked every six months and have chiro done monthly. One of his sale videos b/f he became mine