When Should My Horse Have a Treatment

The horse is a magnificently powerful animal in its own right. Whether yours is a competition horse or a horse for hacks out the maintenance of overall health is of paramount importance. It isn't surprising that horses suffer from back, neck, pelvis and other musculo-skeletal problems; we then ask them to jump obstacles, to hold themselves in collection, to gallop over undulating ground, all with trying to maintain their own balance AND with a rider on board!.
Of course there are problems that can occur without you noticing any reason for them; horses often go galavanting around fields playing, slipping, kicking, sliding etc. Your horse might even just slip whilst out riding, cramp up whilst travelling or on box rest. There are so many reasons as to why problems may develop. By the time you notice something is wrong a huge internal imbalance has started which can often lead to compensation in other areas eg a muscle spasm in the shoulder may cause the horse to alter his gait to relieve the pain which frequently results in a shift of weight to the opposite hind leg which may give the impression that it is a hind leg lameness.

Here is a short list of some of the most common problems:


  • Lack of bend
  • Non apparent lameness
  • Shortness of stride
  • Hollowing of the back
  • Bucking/broncing not normal behaviour
  • Resistance to bascule over jumps
  • Behaviour deterioration
  • Stiffness general or one sided


Of course there are many other factors to be considered and unconsciously some problems are caused by us as owners/riders. Consider the following as a few examples:

Improperly fitting saddles

If the saddle has been specifically made to measure a particular horse by a qualified and respectable saddle fitter, there should be no problem. Problems arise when owners use one saddle for various horses or an inexperienced owner buys a saddle assuming they know the size. I often see horses who’s shoulders are impeded by a saddle that’s far too tight or a horse with subluxation’s and muscle spasm down its back from a saddle that is far too narrow in the gullet causing the spine to be pinched where there has been no room for the spine to flex or where the saddle is too long putting pressure on the weaker, less supported part of the back.


Riders mostly mount from the left hand side. If this is done from a mounting block it puts far less stress and strain on the horses back and shoulders. If this is done from the ground it drags the left shoulder and the thoracic vertebrae down causing muscle weakness and subluxations.

Improper Shoeing

The importance of correct farriery cannot be overstated. Improper farriery practices as well as poor conformation can cause the additional load on the horses’ legs injury and damage to these structures and impair their function.

Incorrect schooling 

An incorrectly schooled horse often displays a dropped back and becomes hollow. This disables the hindquarters to engage properly and places unnatural strain on the stifles, hocks, tendons, ligaments and feet. When schooling correctly, the horse should move in a forward and upward motion with hindquarter engagement, contracted abdominal muscles, a lift of the back and an extended neck line and a soft, light movement.


Claire Chapman 2009-2020 All Rights Reserved
Contact 07795 690 610

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