Horses did not evolve specifically to carry weights on their backs, and modern competition places even more strain upon their skeletal structure.
Most horses will let you know if it they are feeling discomfort, it maybe a small sign such as a reluctance to bend one way or a much larger issue such as sudden rearing. If these issues are not picked up on early they may result in the horse compensating by altering the way it moves which in itself can lead to more!
Common signs of back pain in horses include:
- Resistances: bucking, rearing, napping or bolting
- Unlevelness, particularly behind
- Reduced quality of paces, inability to extend / collect the stride,
- Loss of impulsion, difficulty in engaging the hindquarter or an inability to track up
- Deterioration in performance
- Uneven muscle development or loss of muscle tone
- Temperamental changes, such as loss of interest in work, lethargy, or grumpiness
- Change in behaviour when being groomed, saddled or mounted
- Inability to stand square
- Tight, sore painful areas around the back, neck and quarters
- Refusal to jump, running out, ‘cat leaping’, rushing jumps or bucking on landing
- Hollowing of the back and inability or refusal to work on the bit
- Asymmetry: Disunited in canter, difficulty getting correct canter lead, stiffness on one rein, reluctance to bend, tilting the head
- Falling out through the shoulders or quarters when ridden or lunged
- Inability to carry out lateral work correctly
- Uneven shoe wear caused by toe dragging, unlevel loading or scuffing
- Lameness such as after a fall or accident, where alternative causes have been eliminated by vet
- Shifting of weight when standing
These issues can be caused by a one-off event (acute injury) or something which has built up over a period of days, week, months or even years (chronic injury).
Acute injuries may be caused by:
- Trips, falls or slips
- Sharp turns
- Hitting a fence while competing/hunting
- Getting cast in the stable
- Fighting with other horses
Chronic injuries may be due to:
- Conformational faults, such as a long, weak back
- Ill-fitting tack
- Dental problems
- Poor shoeing, or problems with the feet
- Excess weight, or an unbalanced rider
- Overly hard or soft going, or concussive forces due to roadwork
- Repetitive work
- Repetitive strain injuries through continuous training exercises
- Poor or rough handling
- Direct trauma
A McTimoney and Massage treatment can help to alleviate any of these signs making your animal happier, healthier and more able to perform.
It is important to note that I am not a vet. Any undiagnosed lameness issues or extreme cases of discomfort must be seen by a vet prior to treatment. McTimoney treatment is not a ‘quick fix’ to avoid costly vet bills, I am not here to work instead of veterinary treatment but alongside for the most effective treatment.
Under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 permission must be sort from your animal’s veterinary surgeon before any treatment can commence. In most cases I will ask that the owner receives this permission and signs a form which I provide to confirm this. In some cases it may be necessary for me to contact the vets directly.