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Home:Equine Diseases:Back & Neck Problems

Equine Diseases - Back & Neck Problems

Description of Equine Back and Neck Problems


Back & Neck problems vary from simple soreness indicated by sensitivity to pressure, spinal and pelvic misalignments and a full-blown injury. Your horse's Back and Neck are a collection of irregular bones called vertebrae. These fit together and interact with each other to allow a wide range of movement such as lowering and raising the head, arching or dipping the back and bending from side to side.


Symptoms of Equine Back and Neck Problems


•  Wringing the tail

•  Lying the ears down flat.

•  Refusal or unwillingness to perform, including refusal to jump

•  Head tossing

•  Nodding under saddle or in the paddock.

•  Unpredictable behaviour

•  Being touchy around the ears.

•  Running out on corners in races or alternatively running in towards the rail.

•  Frequent yawning or jaw opening.

•  Dipping the back when pressed over the saddle contact areas.

•  Loss of muscle over the saddle area.

•  Going down in the back when being mounted.

•  Reluctance to move the head and neck through the full range of normal movement.

•  Straddling forelimbs to eat off the ground.

•  Violent tail swishing when grooming the back

•  Frowning ,worried look

•  Standing with the neck in an usually low position


Causes of Equine Back and Neck Problems


It is advisable to c heck everything from saddle fit to sore feet as potential culprits behind your horse's spinal discomfort. Other causes could be

  • Lack of athletic fitness
  • Overstretching
  • Hoof Condition
  • Sore Feet
  • Mouth pain from an inappropriate bit
  • Tripping in the paddock
  • Getting cast in the stall
  • Falls
  • Ill fitting tack
  • Bad posture
  • Stress from sore or unbalanced lower limbs
  • Bad rider posture

Treatment of Equine Back and Neck Problems:


There are many forms of treatment for Equine Back and Neck problems. Some of these are as follows:

An equine back or neck problem is almost always a secondary problem. There will be a primary cause so it is absolutely essential to have your vet diagnose the primary cause. This is the first step of treatment . Your vet will then organise X-rays to identify bone or joint damage and if this does not show the injury a 3 -dimensional image of the bone and soft tissue structure via either CT (computed tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonancing imaging) should highlight the problems. The horse will need an anaesthetic for this procedure and you will probably have to take him to a specialist clinic.

Anti-inflammatory drugs will sometimes reduce symptoms.

The management of neck pain depends on the nature of the injury. Large muscle injuries will need the help of a vet and a physiotherapist to restore normal function

Box rest, with the horse fed and watered at head height to minimise any un-necessary movement will help heal neck fractures.

Magnotherapy neck and back rugs aid the body's ability to increase circulation to areas of injury or chronic pain, and speeds the ability to heal itself naturally. It can also prevent injury when worn before exercise, warming muscles and relaxing the horse. There are many wonderful websites to help you chose or order online.

Chiropractic adjustment is considered very beneficial. Your vet may recommend both the treatment and a practitioner as the chiropractor needs to be of the highest calibre. Therapies such as acupuncture, massage, osteopathy, Laser and homeopathy have also been found to be very worthwhile

Treating the problems may also involve changes to existing tack. Specialist advice on Hoof care, Shoeing, Dental care, Posture, Exercise, Diet, Rider's posture will all help with the treatment of equine back and neck problems.