Horse back pain

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by Elizabetg11, Jul 26, 2018.

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  1. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Elizabetg11 Hi! I was wondering people's thoughts on this horse I ride for my cousin. He has back issues and while we all love him I was thinking about his future. He's a TB/Arab cross and probably 12 years old. After she bought him it was discovered he had back pain. We found out later that he flipped over when being started. He has scar tissue, two almost touching vertabre and some arthritis in his back.

    Well, a couple questions. I do understand that many Thb-Arab crosses have rather weak backs and sacroiliac joints. It's easily possible his problem is in his back....

    Was the horse's back ever x-rayed? I ask because most people do not get horse's backs xrayed even if they do have back pain.

    And - because quite often, people assume the problem is in the back when a horse flips over - or ever flipped over. It may not be. The horse might flip because he's tense or scared or the breaker was in a rush. Flipping over may or may not injure the back - it can very severely injure the neck, for example, or the pelvis, right where it joins to the spine (sacro-iliac joint), or elsewhere in the pelvis. Or hind legs.

    Further muddying the waters, people will often try to 'test' the horse for back soreness by stroking the back with a pen or fingertips. The problem with this is that they feel if the horse 'drops his back' or squirms away, that means he has back pain. When in fact, most more experienced people will tell you the opposite - that most horses squirm away from such testing because they do not like the feeling of someone poking them with a pen, rather than due to back pain....and that NOT moving the back away is a sign of a back problem.

    I'm curious as to how he can have 'almost touching vertebrae' and have 'arthritis' in the back. The reason that sounds odd to me is this - most of the time, when arthritis forms in the bones of the back, it bridges from one vertebra to the next one at some point. 'Kissing spine' means that the upward projections from the vertebrae touch each other. That's usually because arthritis develops on those projections. Here's an example.

    [​IMG]

    So 'almost touching' and 'arthritis' sounds a little improbable.

    Of course the difficult part of 'kissing spines' is that when you see an xray with kissing spines, that still might not be the source of the horse's pain. A good many horses have 'kissing spines' and have no pain.

    He's very sweet but hard to get going with. My cousin wants to do a bit of everything with him from barrels, reining, eventing ect. I'm a pleasure rider and just help keep him in shape.

    Neither plan seems plausible at this point, but "barrels, reining, eventing" sounds....um....nuts.... However you never described what he DOES. Why do you or her think the horse has a back problem? What does he do? Exactly?

    "Hard to get going with?" What does that mean?


    What's the realistic prognosis? He has had previcox, but, oral supplements, magnet blankets ect. She did some shockwave and injections . She might try mesotherapy. The lameness vet says oral medicine won't do anything but legends might.

    He only goes well for a few months.

    Is he lame then? Bucking people off? Refusing to move? Rearing? Throwing himself over backwards? What's he do?

    They also suggested more shock wave and mesotherapy. My cousin can't afford it unless I pitch in. I'm willing to do that, but seems like there is no end in sight. How often will we need to do all this? It gets expensive. He is really hard to keep in shape and really been a pleasure horse because of this.

    Can you be a little more specific? How many times a week is he ridden, what is done with him? Walk trot lope for 10-15 minutes, in a flat, well-groomed arena? Trail riding on easy flat trails? When you say 'pleasure riding' - do you mean going extremely slow in all gaits, like a Western Pleasure show horse? Or just riding in a relaxed way.

    I think you said you can't post pic or video of his tack, right? Can you post pics that look like his back or pelvis? Does it look anything like this:

    [​IMG]



    In the picture above, the point of croup(the highest point of the hind quarter, just behind the head of the yellow arrow), sticks up abnormally high, then as you move your eye toward the front of the horse, there's a spot on the back that dips sharply down, then you see the back as you go further forward, has an upward hump to it. The croup sticking way up like that is typical of pelvic injuries. The dip-and-hump in the back is typical of many types of lameness.

    I'd love thoughts. Personally wondering if she should retire him to something lesser like trail rides, dressage or in the pasture.

    It's really hard to say anything because we can't see how the saddle and rider set on the horse, how the horse moves, or how his body looks. We don't even know exactly what the horse does - how he behaves under saddle.

    My guess - and it's just a guess, is that this horse has chronic back soreness, perhaps with other problems as well(it's common for horses to have both leg and back problems, for example). We can't tell how consistently any therapy or treatment was applied, so we can't really say 'that treatment didn't work.' We can't say if the horse was rested properly during treatment, or how the tack fits or if the riders sit straight on the horse. There's no actual timeline to go by and not a lot of details.

    But it seems for some reason, treatments aren't working and the horse isn't getting better. I can't feel confident saying the horse has to be retired because there just isn't enough information. I can't feel confident saying the horse will get well, either.

    But I do know that trail riding or dressage are probably not reasonable goals if the horse can't stay sound for light pleasure riding.
     
  2. rhinebeck

    rhinebeck Senior Member

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    From what I’ve read with everything tried and owner no longer wants to try more or doesn’t have the time to dedicate to a schedule

    I’d step back after recommending her to retire him before he hurts her eventually and warn her he could get to the point that he may actually do something harmful out of self preservation.

    If she doesn’t take the recommendation and warning just wait it most likely will happen. Then again recommend her to retire him or if she cannot afford multiple horses PTS

    I have a semi retired horse now - she has severe lower hock arthritis - I may ride her once a month at this point but she lives out in a field with a small group. I cannot afford the injections/treatments to keep her fully sound for hard work and I know it so I won’t force her to endure more than a casual stroll occasionally and even then I’m over critical about how she’s moving and feeling. If and when I feel the need for a horse that is capable of more she will stay here retired, maybe giving lessons to my soon to be child when child is old enough.
     
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  3. Elizabetg11

    Elizabetg11 Registered

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    Hi, your post is pretty long and I'm tight on time but I'll do my best to explain. The horse was buted for the PPE. She found that out after. There was red flags so I suggested she skip the horse but if she were to pursue him to do a blood test. She did and was positive for Bute but bought him.

    He's had two vets xray and ultrasound him. He has a large, painful lump on his back. One local vet that said it was just major scar tissue. Another local vet said it was scar tissue and two vertabre were close to touching and he saw arthritis on bottom (not top) of spine.

    After two years of struggling she sent him to a specialist at the local university. They said nothing of kissing spines. But do see arthritis in spine and scar tissue on ultrasound .

    By pleasure i mean just relaxed riding. Horse is reluctant to go, can take off steps up front and looks sore in hocks. Is extremely sore in back , every type of horse professional sees that. It's a pretty obviouslump where scar tissue is.

    By pleasure, I mean extremely easy riding. I'm a dressage rider but I've been worried about said horse. She really believed in university but thinks aren't much improved. So I'm not willing to do it anymore but hope things get better for her. I just don't want to hurt him.
     
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  4. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Where on his back is this lump?
     
  5. Elizabetg11

    Elizabetg11 Registered

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    Towards the end of where the saddle cantel sits.
     

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