EQUUS - - Eq Handson -

When a horse’s back hurts, he may com­mu­ni­cate the prob­lem clearly by act­ing up when sad­dled, “sink­ing” when mounted or buck­ing once a rider is on board. But he may also ex­press his dis­com­fort in more sub­tle ways that are easy to over­look or mis­in­ter­pret. Put back pain on your list of pos­si­ble causes for the fol­low­ing be­hav­iors, es­pe­cially if they arise sud­denly:

• Stum­bling, es­pe­cially be­hind. A horse with a sore back may try to com­pen­sate by mov­ing dif­fer­ently, which can lead to awk­ward strides, mis­steps and stum­bling.

• Arch­ing of the back. Most horses will drop their backs in re­sponse to pain, but a few will round it up­ward in a de­fen­sive pos­ture.

• Cross-can­ter­ing or swap­ping leads be­hind. As a horse with a sore back at­tempts to move in a way that doesn’t cause pain, he may have trou­ble hold­ing his lead, par­tic­u­larly in his hind limbs.

• A re­luc­tance to go for­ward. A horse who re­sists, balks or oth­er­wise doesn’t “flow” for­ward may be try­ing to deal with a painful back. This can be es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult to dif­fer­en­ti­ate from a purely be­hav­ioral is­sue, but un­til you de­ter­mine oth­er­wise, as­sume his re­luc­tance stems from a phys­i­cal is­sue and call your vet­eri­nar­ian for a full workup.

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