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Saddle Up Series - Understanding Your Horse's Back - Part Four
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   6th Jul 2013   •   3,244 views   •   0 comments

As mentioned before, back pain in horses is shockingly common; in fact most horses – even the soundest of them – are likely to be experiencing at least a small degree of back pain simply from the strain of hard work. The rider’s job is to identify the signs of pain in the horse, and then, for Goodness’ sake, do something about it!

Related Article: Kissing Spine - Could This be Troubling Your Horse [Video]
Related Article: Taking Care of Your Horses Back

The first step, as with anything, is to try to find the source of the problem. Back pain can stem from two main types of damage, namely: Soft Tissue (referring mainly to muscles, tendons and ligaments), or Bone Pathology (referring to the health of the bones, regarding disease or damage). Knowing from where your horse’s injury stems is of paramount importance if you are to treat it correctly. It is worth noting that soft tissue damage can often recur as a result of compensating for old, poorly healed bone damage.

To follow are four possible means of diagnosing your horse’s back pain, in order to select the appropriate treatment to fix it.

1. A vet or expert horseperson can gently palpate the affected area, and finding the points of injury by feel.

2. A thermal imaging scan can be done on the animal. This involves using an infared heat sensing camera and photographing the horse to find hot and inflamed areas, thus pinpointing the location of the pain. These images must be considered by a vet or other qualified expert in order to be considered a reliable source.

3. X-Rays can be done, although this is a highly expensive process and will only show damage to the skeletal structure of the horse, such as fractured vertebrae, kissing spine, or arthritis.

4. One can diagnose through treatment and trial and error. With the horse being such a large and, frankly, mysterious animal, this is often the best way to go, particularly with mild problems. Once back pain has been identified, the owner must try a number of different treatments until they find one that shows improvement in the animal’s condition.

This tells us how to identify and potentially diagnose back pain in a horse, but no matter how vast our knowledge on the source of the pain, it still remains useless to the horse while nothing has been done to solve it. In the next article, we will examine a number of different treatments available to help horses with sore backs.
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