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Back Sore, Dips Away from Pressure with Hands

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

    You run your hands along the muscles of the topline and your horse dips away from this pressure. Some response is normal, and each horse reacts somewhat differently. Is there a problem or is the response normal? Many otherwise healthy horses dip away from pressure from hands on the back.

    Generally, a horse that has less muscle and fat cover on the top-line will dip away from pressure more than one with full muscle cover. Many cases of back soreness are misdiagnosed because it is a difficult diagnosis to make, similar to back pain in humans.

    Also, lameness of many types predisposes to back soreness and this type of reaction to pressure. Add the behavioral aversion that some horses have to pressure or touch along the top-line, and the situation becomes even more complicated.


    Assess freedom of movement both under saddle and on a lunge. Look for lameness at walk and trot. Look for swelling and heat. Look for uneven sweat pattern under the saddle pad. Consider whether anything has changed- tack, exercise level or type, rider, etc. Assess the back, always noting whether responses are even on left and right side. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.


    Your vet will seek to differentiate behavioral issues from actual back pain, and primary back pain from that created by underlying lameness or ill fitting tack or rider factors.

    Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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