My horse has back pain? What can I do to help?

back pain in horses
horse back pain

My horse has back pain

Horse back pain can be a real problem since they need to carry us on their backs when we ride. It’s no wonder that my horse has back pain. Considering the way they are built and what we ask of them, I’m surprised that more horses don’t have this problem. If you look at the way a horse is built, they have long backs with a pretty good distance between supports (their legs).  That means that the muscles need to be strong and they need to use their bodies very well to counterbalance this potential weakness. Then we go and put our weight, plus saddle, pad and whatever else we might carry on there.  It’s no wonder that horses get back pain. 

When their backs hurt, they can’t tell us what hurts in words.  And lameness exams don’t show any telltale signs.  So how do you know if your horse has back pain? They might get irritable, especially when you touch their backs or saddle them, the muscles in their backs might spasm when pushed on, or they might just seem off, depending on the horse and the severity and source of the pain.  

Mia has back pain

I got Mia, a quarter horse mare, almost 2 years ago.  She was 3 years old at the time. Young, beautiful, very smart and extremely kind.  I was so excited to see if I could help her reach her potential as a barrel horse.  Well, that hasn’t quite gone as planned.

When you buy a horse, they recommend that you spend time talking to the seller and getting to know the horse. You should also have a trusted vet do a prepurchase exam to make sure there are no soundness issues.

She had some soreness at her lower back that my vet thought we could work out with a little chiropractic treatment.  I liked everything else about her so I decided to buy her anyway. Unfortunately, the chiropractic treatment didn’t work.

Causes of back pain in horses

Just like humans, there can be lots of reasons why a horse has back pain.  Could be

– they injured it

– the saddle doesn’t fit right

– they have arthritis

– deformities like kissing spine

– they might have muscle soreness

– a pinched nerve

– something else

We don’t know what Mia’s reason is.  We’ve looked at all of these reasons.  Sometimes, it almost seems like she’s fine, then it gets bad again.

What do you do about back pain?

Since we’ve been trying to get Mia sound, I have learned quite a bit about different methods of treating back pain in horses. Some of the things we’ve tried are

– chiropractic treatment

– acupuncture

– cold laser

– saddle fit

– shock wave therapy

– injections with steroids or anti-inflammatory agents

– pain medications

– muscle relaxants

– diet change

– supplements, especially Magnesium and MSM/Chondroitin

– rest

– strengthening

I didn’t know many of these things could have anything to do with back soreness, but apparently sometimes they do.  In Mia’s case, we have had limited success with these methods. But I have been learning alot.

What else can help when my horse has back pain?

I’m looking at alternative treatments at this point.  Modalities like

– magnetic blankets

– massage

– Reiki

– healing touch

– energy healing

– PEMF – a type of magnetic treatment

– ANMR – animal neuromyofacial release. Read about ANMR here.

– CBD oil

Where do we go from here?

It’s been frustrating.  Of course, I want Mia to be pain free.  Living life in constant pain is no way to live.  Sometimes I think we have it, but so far that has not lasted.  Trying to figure it out has been a puzzle.  But I keep looking.  It is pretty amazing all the potential treatments that can be applied.  I’m hoping to find the right combination to keep my girl happy.  The search goes on. Have you had a horse with this problem? Tell me about it below.

For more about horse health, read Horse colic. Do you know what to do? Or you can read about acupuncture for pets, one of the treatments we have used alot!

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