Bucking, biting or nipping when saddled, tossing of the head and opening of the mouth when ridden are all common signs on spinal problems. Refusing jumps, favouring one lead over the other or feeling “just not right” are also common indicators your horse could be experiencing spinal pain or problems.
Back problems leading to pain can occur in any horse from the weekend trail mount or pony clubber to the elite dressage or jumping performance horse. Pain or injury can be primary or may be caused by lameness issues causing the horse to move incorrectly which leads to the back muscles becoming overloaded and even sore and strained.
The first step to identify what the potential cause may be is to address any ill-fitting tack, as this is one of the most common causes. Even when the tack fits well, rider asymmetry or imbalance can place uneven pressures on the back. Over-exercising or extensive work without proper progression can lead to muscle strains and sprains as well as, arthritic changes over time in the vertebrae.
The assessment of the level of back pain and whereabouts along the back will always be difficult when physically examining a horse. This is because many horses can be naturally sensitive along the back or very stoic when being palpated, making diagnose difficult.
Sophisticated IR Imaging equipment can be useful to detect thermal changes in the spinal region of horses, making it of beneficial use when trying to localise the site of pain or injury. Radiography will then be needed to confirm the source of pain and the actual diagnosis (e.g. Dorsal overring of the spinous processes at the level of…)
Vet-IR's imaging services can help to isolate where the cause may lie and together work with your industry professionals to begin a treatment plan to assist your horse to return to full work and level of performance.