Cold back is a term used to describe a horse that displays behaviours or has symptoms indicating back pain. Many horses considered to be ‘cold backed’ respond to saddle pressure by dipping or raising their backs. Horses may show symptoms when the saddle is initially put on or the rider first mounts and then after the back muscles warm up symptoms disappear.
It is thought that the acute reaction seen in cold-backed horses is caused by stimulation of sensitive nerve endings. Such stimulation may be caused by an ill fitting saddle or stretching of immobile or injured tissue.
Can Equissage help?
Yes it can.
However it is important in the first instance to eliminate any obvious causes due to the saddle, chiropractic issues (such as Kissing Spine), soreness triggered by a rider sitting inaccurately over a period of time, incorrect muscle development, etc. Even when all possible causes have been ruled out, some horses remain "cold backed" due to increased sensitivity in the saddle area. By using Equissage to thoroughly warm the muscles of the back prior to being ridden the well-known manifestation of the horse instantly rounding its back when mounted can effectively be ruled out. Even though such horses are routinely lunged prior to being mounted to help release tension and stretch the muscles, this does not always prevent a tentative few moments under saddle as some horses do not relax enough for this to be of benefit. However Equissage has the advantage of reaching much deeper into the body and so having a positive effect on the secondary layer of muscles as opposed to just having an effect on the superficial layer, it builds up uniform heat throughout the muscles as well as working on all the muscles as a whole so that generally the horse is more loose and relaxed - all without any weight initially being placed on the back.
A routine 20 minute application (medium or higher setting if the horse will allow) to act as a preliminary warm-up prior to the horse being tacked up is all that is required to manage this condition. As it is muscle that is the target area, then a higher setting will be of more benefit so as to provide a thoroughly therapeutic massage.
Point to note:
After working the horse or at the end of a hack, be sure to allow a few minutes walking on a long rein encouraging the horse to stretch and relax its back muscles - which of course is all part of a good management routine anyway.