How to Manage a Cold-Backed Horse.
“Cold backed” is the horseman’s term for a horse with an overly sensitive back. The term can be used to describe anything from mild symptoms, such as discomfort when the girth is tightened, through to longer-lasting effects where the horse becomes difficult and tense when mounted and such discomfort lasts until the horse is sufficiently warmed up and relaxed.
Why might a horse be cold backed?
When a horse is cold backed he is either experiencing pain or anticipating suffering, based upon past experience. It is generally thought that one of the main reasons for horses acquiring a cold back is the evolution of the spine; it was not designed to carry a rider and so the horse must compensate for the extra weight. This can result in nerve endings becoming sensitive and misalignment of the vertebrae, which is aggravated when a rider has a poor position, compromising the distribution of the weight and triggering pressure points. Other causes include a poorly fitting saddle or girth, an underlying injury and liver or kidney problems. If you suspect your horse is cold backed you are encouraged to consult both your veterinarian and a back specialist, who can advise on the cause and best treatment.
What are the signs that my horse is cold backed?
A cold-backed horse will display very clear signs of discomfort, including, but not limited to:
How can I my cold-backed horse’s discomfort?
It is often a good idea to start a course of periodic equine physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment – this can increase blood flow to the muscles and realign the spine, if required. There is also a host of management ideas that can help your horse on a day-to-day basis:
Having a horse with a cold back is not a reason to stop riding - in fact, exercise will ensure he maintains the muscle tone he needs to support and strengthen his back. Observing the simple measures outlined above will minimize your horse’s discomfort and support his overall wellbeing, keeping him active for years to come.
What a great article Morgan! Thanks, I never knew how to deal with this before
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