Horses can present with a variety of symptoms, however the most common presenting feature is pain. The horse will attempt to compensate for the pain by changing its posture and walking and often refuse to perform certain tasks; this in turn can result in other secondary problems.

Some symptoms include:

  • Discomfort when saddling or riding
  • Refusing to go over jumps / reduced performance
  • Difficulties with different gaits
  • Difficulty flexing at the poll
  • Inability to engage hindquarters
  • Stiffness bending body or neck
  • Oversensitive back / sensitive to touch
  • Muscle wasting
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Abnormal or irregular gait rhythm
    • Shortened stride in one or more legs
    • Decreased extension in front or rear
  • Subtle lameness (ruled out by vet)
  • Unusual tail / body rubbing
  • Abnormal posture when standing
  • Rider can not sit centred on horse
  • Pulling on one rein
  • Tail carried to one side
  • Unusual itching, especially at the base of the tail

Another indication of pain is a horse that is constantly moving or just can’t be still (you may have experienced this yourself if you have ever had back pain!). This constant moving is often an effort to try to over ride the nervous system as moving inhibits pain.

The following is only some of the symptoms that may indicate pain:

  • Discomfort when saddling
  • Discomfort when riding
    • Extending head or hollowing back, pinning ears or bucking
  • Refusing to go over jumps
  • Difficulties with different gaits
  • Difficulty flexing at the poll
  • Inability to engage hindquarters
  • Stiffness bending body or neck
  • Reduced performance
  • Oversensitive back
  • Muscle wasting
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Abnormal or irregular gait rhythm
    • Shortened stride in one or more legs
    • Decreased extension in front or rear
  • Subtle lameness (ruled out by vet)
  • Unusual tail / body rubbing

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Even in the absence of pain, joint problems can affect muscle coordination and spinal mobility and therefore the performance of a horse. Some examples of this can include:

  • Unusual itching especially at the base of the tail
  • Asymmetrical or reduced perspiration
  • Increased sensitivity to heat and cold

 

 

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