Orthopedic problems in equine backs is a relatively new area of diagnosis and treatment. Due to their size, diagnosing equine back problems was difficult with limited technology that had trouble getting through the large amount of muscle and connective tissue around the spine. Digital, high power radiography has helped fixed this diagnostic problem and lets us find arthritic, traumatic and developmental disease processes in the back. Dorsal spinous process impingement, better known as Kissing Spines, was once thought to be one of the only orthopedic diseases in equine backs. We now know that the small and large joints that that make up the spine can develop arthritis or have developmental diseases, and that the ligaments and small muscles stabilizing the spine are very important to maintaining fit and comfortable backs. With this information, we can locate and treat specific joints or muscles that may be causing pain and poor performance in your horse.
Saddle fit is a very important component of developing proper muscle and keeping a comfortable horse. Horses with severe back pain can become dangerous and may buck, kick out, or bite when a poorly fitting saddle or additional weight is applied to a painful back. Poor fitting saddles may slide forward or backwards, pinch or rub on the withers or tops of the shoulder blades, or cause painful pressure points behind the shoulder blades or the middle of the back. When evaluating a horse for back pain, we make sure to evaluate your saddle for any problems as well.