Back Problems

A thermal imagaing service is offered for back and pelvis problems. This will help locate the area of pain and discomfort


Vertebral and pelvic fractures manifest with reluctance on the animal's part to move, and every indication of severe crippling pain associated with gross muscle wasting. Any form of treatment calls for close veterinary supervision; all cases eventually require muscle stimulation and rehabilitation.

The 'problem back' is the one producing some signs of discomfort and reduction in performance ability, but without obvious clinical findings. These types of back are almost certainly a result of ligament strain and associated muscle problems.

A disturbing feature of the aching back is the fact that the great majority of so-called 'backs' are not backs at all. Soreness and discomfort in the back have occurred as a result of a problem in a limb causing the horse to work out of balance, the uneven stresses falling on the back. The uneven stresses cause pain and the 'back experts have a field day. The answer is to find and cure the limb problem, and then the back will recover. A recent case, seen for recurrent problems in the withers and many times manipulated, was found on examination to have a fracture of a pastern bone. In most cases wither pain is due to sore feet, joints or a saddle not fitting. If the wither is still tender on palpation after continual treatment then seek veterinary advice and look further for the problem.

In a genuine back problem, reduce the pain, stimulate the appropriate muscle groups, reeducate the movement pattern, check the saddle fit and find the cause.

Or could it be your back problem causing the horse's?

Kissing Spines

kissingspineClick image for larger view

Left - normal spinal position.
Right - excessive extension causing the vertebrae irritation and soft tissue strain to the ventral ligament. Also kissing spine syndrome.


Signs of Kissing Spines


Thermal image shows a horse with nerve irritation, this can lead to kissing spine if the problem persists. The following exercises below will help reduce the nerve irritation.

  • The condition is diagnosed by a vet using radiographs or scans.
  • Palpation on the tops of the spinous processes of vertebrae causes pain and hollowing to light touch.
  • Heat or swelling over the spinous processes.
  • Horse shows reluctance to move freely
  • Abnormal behaviour.
  • Bucking, rearing and running away.

    Causes of Kissing Spines

  • A broken, twisted or stretched tree will create this problem. As the horse moves the tree will spread creating pressure at the base of withers and where the rider sits.
  • Riding a horse in a hollow frame.
  • Riding too many lateral movements, especially leg yielding.
  • Rider that moves around too much or is too heavy for the horse.
  • Horses's back conformation.
  • Slipping or twisting.
  • An error or imbalance, especially while jumping.

Exercises to Help Kissing Spines

  • If the saddle is causing the problem, remove it immediately. Saddle pressure and bruising takes approximately 3-4 weeks to resolve with therapy treatment.
  • When the kissing spine is located, apply cold/ice treatment to the area, especially if swelling is present. A frozen bag on peas placed on the spine with an elastic surcingle for 8-10 minutes twice a day.
  • Depending on the condition and vet recommendation either rest or hand walking.
  • Perform the thoracic lift exercises. This tones the abdominal muscles and strengthens back muscle. Opens the spinous processess to reduce and alleviate kissing spines.
    Before the thoracic lift



The thoracic lift


Equine Therapy


Every horse suffers from some pain and discomfort. Equine Therapy is becoming very popular as riders and owners become aware of their horse's needs.

Equine Therapy focuses on helping the horse obtain optimum performance. It does this by providing quality treatment that pinpoints a horse's weakness, stressed areas and then works to bring the body back to balance.

The techniques used are: massage, manipulation, stretching, TENS machine, red and infrared light treatment, pain point scanner, saddle fitting, shoeing advice in relations to scanner feed back and holding patterns in the muscles.