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Mare has sore back

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  • Mare has sore back

    Since I bought her in May, I've been regularly riding my 12 year old Trakehner/TB mare with the hopes to begin competing her in low level eventing this Fall. When I bought her, I was told that she did have an old stifle injury but had received treatment, worked out of it and been fine since it occurred. Over the past few months, in preparation for our first Beg. Novice show this Sunday, I have been taking dressage lessons every week to build up her top line and work on lateral exercises. For background, this mare is hot. She moves fast, like the energizer bunny when she is ridden and it takes her a while to settle.

    Over the weekend when I was riding her, she began bucking every stride of the canter. I thought it was maybe because of the nip of cool air we've been having, but every stride seemed a little over the top for just that. My vet came today. She felt her back and she was very ouchy even from a light touch. I rode her and lunged her and she did show off her bucks in the canter, particularly to the right. My vet said that it was likely an issue with her hind end that was causing the back pain. Then we did a flex test on her. My vet said the flex test wasn't too bad. She could tell that she was a little more inflamed on the left side of her stifle but did not see any lame steps from the flex test. She said her hind end was very tight and since she's hot and wound tightly, she's not as dramatic as other horses who may show soreness easier. She told me to give her 10 days off from riding and put her on robaxin for 2 weeks to see if it makes a difference in her soreness, then re evaluate and determine if we can pinpoint her pain, whether it's her stifle, hock or something structural in her back. So - no show this weekend. I'm bummed but a little relieved that she wasn't bucking out of pure spite and naughtiness. Also - she tested her for Lyme, just to be sure.

    Anyway - I understand this is a broad description with no true diagnosis but just wondering if:

    1) Anyone has been through the same thing with a similar type horse i.e. had difficulty pinpointing pain with a hot horse due to the way they carry themselves.

    2) I bought this mare to primarily do low level eventing. Though this is extremely early in the process of finding out what is hurting her, I'm a little dismayed and wondering if our future will be what I thought it was. Does anyone have success stories they can share with me about a mystery soreness - back pain, etc. that they've successfully treated and then be able to compete and ride regularly after addressing the problem? Just looking for some uplifting stories here!

    Thank you!

  • #2
    Yep I have and it was saddle fit. My horse became so back sore he started stripping. He didn't show it when brushing etc but when he started tripping a lot we investigated with the vet and he was back sore. Luckily my guy is easy going so no bucks he just didn't lift under the saddle for dressage lessons and tripped. Had a saddle fitter out and that was the problem. Gave him time off with no meds then when i rode him I switched to my jumping saddle because it fit him better the saddle fitter said and rode in it until the new saddle came in. This was over a year ago. No tipping, no back soreness and he is happy to lift his back in work. I'd start looking at the saddle.
    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


    • #3
      Originally posted by rabicon View Post
      Yep I have and it was saddle fit. My horse became so back sore he started stripping. .
      this made me laugh. I had this vision of your horse just ripping his tack off...

      Carry on with your regularly scheduled discussion now...


      • #4
        Last edited by bluebuckets; Jan. 22, 2014, 12:31 AM.


        • #5
          Originally posted by islgrl View Post
          this made me laugh. I had this vision of your horse just ripping his tack off...

          Carry on with your regularly scheduled discussion now...

          Lmao. Ok autocorrect. It is tripping! Lol. Man about as bad as my reindeer autocorrect mess up on another thread.
          Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


          • #6
            Yes, I have a similar story. However, our issue didn't come from poor saddle fit but an old SI injury that never healed properly. Even with this old injury, she successfully evented at Novice level at age 5 with no problems. However, she was always tight in her back and also was much better one direction than the other. She sometimes felt "off" but flexions, xrays and U/S didn't reveal any problems in her legs. Anyway--at some point last year--the old injury got inflamed and all she did was buck when I tried to canter her. Walking down a hill caused her to kick out and buck in place too. We finally diagnosed it with a bone scan and an ultrasound of the SI area. There was just scar tissue in the area where the ligament attaches to the SI bone on one side. It explained the way that she always wanted to hold herself a bit crooked. Also explained why her back was so danged tight--she wanted to protect that area.

            The rehab has been a long process--but I would say that the outcome (so far) is a complete success. We are at month 5 of a 6-month rehab. She feels better than she ever has before--her trot and canter are much bigger and she is working through her back much better. Her one-sidedness is going away too. She walks happily down hills (even fairly steep ones) without even twitching an ear! Last night we cantered out in a field and she didn't even do a "wahoo" buck--she just gave me a lovely, round, HUGE canter. It was amazing, especially after going through a long period where I couldn't even "ask" her to canter without having a rodeo.

            BTW--mine is also a Trak/Tb mare!! They can be hot and sensitive so I wouldn't rule out things like saddle fit (or the wrong type of saddle pad, or one hair out of place--heh, heh!!) Good luck and I hope your vets can figure something out.


            • Original Poster

              This is so helpful! Thank you slp2 – my vet had questioned a possible SI issue but we haven’t done xrays yet. I haven’t broached x-rays yet for financial reasons but think I am leaning towards it if this continues.

              I did have a saddle fitter out back in June, shortly after I bought her. He is well respected around New England. He flocked my jumping saddle, didn’t find any other issues with fit. He also sold me a dressage saddle, checked it out and flocked it as well. So I am inclined to say that it is not her saddle(s) though I may have another saddle fitter come out just for a second opinion.

              slp2 - it is so funny. This mare is so laid back and even keeled on the ground then I get on her and the TB comes out!

              Thank you everyone for the advice! I love this mare and think we could have a lot of fun together.


              • #8
                I wouldn't completely rule out saddle fit, my mare's back changed a lot and frequently when I first bought her and started building up her top line. I'm pretty sure that within 2 months I had the saddle fitter back out and she was already a little snug in the stirrup bars (and if it doesn't fit my mare perfectly she gets upset).
                Last edited by yourcolorfuladdiction; Sep. 17, 2013, 08:19 PM. Reason: Run on sentence


                • #9
                  Had the same issue very, very sore back noticed it in the hind end. Looked like a stifle issue but it was saddle fit. New trainer, new saddle 8 weeks off with lots of meds and for the past year, no issues.

                  Saddle fit for dressage is essential, my horse was very injured after two trainer rides with ill fitting dressage saddle. My vet actually chewed me out.....
                  Last edited by stolen virtue; Sep. 17, 2013, 11:19 PM. Reason: Running off to feed horses creates mistakes


                  • #10
                    Some things to check:

                    Check saddle fit
                    Check hind end comfort
                    Ulcers - my horse's #1 symptom was really bad, recurring back pain (when I say recurring, I mean within 3 days of each chiro treatment)
                    Hormones - Cycles can get wonky in the fall. Irregular cycles can lead to ovarian pain - and therefore lower back pain.
                    "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rubygirl View Post
                      She said her hind end was very tight and since she's hot and wound tightly
                      I would consider the possibility of EPSM.


                      • #12
                        Is the pain and reaction to it constant or does it come and go? Friends mare was VERY sore in the back, and it was related to her heat cyles. Painful ovaries during her cycles, so they used a Regumate implant in her and the back pain virtually disappeared for good after that. What they found was because she was so painful during her cycle, there was also residual pain after as well as she tensed up so badly during her cycle, there was some muscle spasm pain also

                        Is she equally as sore on the lunge with no saddle and no rider? If so - rule out saddle fitting issues ...

                        Always so difficult to pinpoint stuff like this ... good luck!

                        True Colours Farm on Facebook


                        • #13
                          OP, I'm derailing a little bit here, sorry.

                          Those of you who blame saddle fit...did you get a fitter out? Or?

                          My mare is back sore also, though not to the point of being naughty. That or it isn't her style. But she has obvious discomfort (tail swish/skin twitch when brushing, not happy when I place a saddle there) but rides around happy as a clam. Love this mare.

                          Chiro this morning, then I'm trying a new saddle this weekend. It has an interchangeable gullet, and I tried the W already (too wide, didn't have the hand strength and tool knowledge to change it at the barn). She is a huge mare (wide) and has a big, random bulge of muscle right behind her shoulder. You can see it here where I hopped on bareback this past week to toodle around. Thoughts about that muscle??

                          She's also a cribber, so I worry that she's not doing something to herself? When the W tree saddle was on and I was feeling around under it while it was girthed up, it felt fine, but as soon as she cribbed while my hand was under there (arena post), it snugged up and squeezed my hand pretty good right where that muscle is. I don't do cribbing collars, but I also don't ride hurting horses.
                          COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                          "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


                          • #14
                            To answer TheJenners , my trainer used my old trainer's saddle until her new saddle that was fitted for my horse came in. It took 3 months. I also had a chiropractor and cold laser work, but my vet said the issue was saddle fit and damage that had been done.

                            Edit: Saw the pictures, my guy is actually wider with a large shoulder. My trainer bought a Stubben and had the fitter come measure my guy and a couple of other horses she rides. No issues since December.


                            • #15
                              I had a fitter to come look at my stubben wide. It could not be adjusted wide enough for my new horse so I got a county wide and it's a lot wider and fits like a glove. Back soreness has went away. The bates can be good but I've found that even with the interchangeable it only changes so much and sometimes on wider horses it does not do well. Just have to ride and see I guess. If she rides around good have you consider she maybe just girthy or possible ulcers? My guy still rode around good but wouldn't lift his back and would trip from being sore. Have you felt down her back muscles? Does she give when you do?
                              Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


                              • #16
                                Yes I have had that problem, and it wasn't saddle fit.

                                I have had a few horses who needed their SI injected + chiro adjustments.

                                I had one who needed SI injected + chiro + injecting a kissing vertebrae.

                                I had one that had something very wrong up high in his right hind, which caused sore muscles in his SI area and in his back. His sore back wasn't really about his back.

                                My point is its good sport horse vet workup time.
                                Unrepentant carb eater


                                • #17
                                  My TB gelding experienced a LOT of back sore after having been off on a hoof for a little. It was inflamed at the ankle (non serious injury-resolved itself) he wasnt noticeably lame, but he carried himself in a way that helped prevent pain in the leg, but created soreness in his back. it did go away after the inflammation went down and he moved more freely. has she been standing or eating in a different position then normal?


                                  • #18
                                    Well, apparently she was out everywhere. Jaw, poll, all/most of the neck, one or both shoulders and one hip. Chiro guy said "probably" related to cribbing. He said it could also be where she has been snaking her head around trying to eat my gelding. He said the back soreness was from her neck being so out, so hopefully this plus new saddle plus regular adjustments will work.

                                    Not sure about the cribbing though, I hate to put a collar on her.

                                    Thanks for feedback
                                    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                                    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl


                                    • #19
                                      The cribbing/hotness make me think of ulcers.


                                      • #20
                                        Mine isn't hot, that's the op. Mine just cribs, already treated for ulcers with zero improvement on cribbing .
                                        COTH's official mini-donk enabler

                                        "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl