Sore Back

A sore back can be caused by numerous factors including; deformities of the vertebral column, soft tissue injuries, fractures and other vertebral and articular lesions. Muscle and nerve problems can also result in sore backs.

Signs that horses may have a sore back include dipping, flinching or raising the back muscles when pressure is applied, stiffness on one rein when being ridden, tail carried to one side, poor or reduced performance, gait abnormalities, uneven muscle tone and reluctance to jump and engage hind quarters.

Can Equissage help?

Yes, definitely.

Using Equissage can do nothing but good in terms of back related issues whatever the cause. Even where the cause is established as being a deformity, then any therapy which eases, relaxes and tones (therefore strengthens muscles (i.e. Equissage) helps the horse more ably cope. For example in the case of Kissing Spine (see also separate entry) whether or not surgery has been carried out, the ultimate success of treatment is reliant upon how strong the back muscles are.

In the case of muscular spasms, if a spasm is detected very early on i.e. only a very small area is involved and there does not appear to be too much discomfort or the area overly tight, and also depending upon its location, then specific, targeted treatment with the Equissage Hand Unit should be enough to restore the status quo. However if this does not resolve the situation within 2/3 days, then treatment should be sought from a practitioner, following veterinary advice.

For the spasm that is more deep set, it has to be dissipated by an appropriate practitioner so that healing can take place and muscle regenerated. Remember that whilst in spasm, the muscles will not have been receiving a proper blood supply; the muscles will effectively have been starved. So not only will the muscles have been deprived of oxygen but nutrients too. So once the practitioner has done their job, Equissage can take over and put everything else back in place.

Thereafter Equissage can be used to aid the full recovery process by promoting good circulation and continued elimination of toxins. The deep massaging helps to ensure that the muscle fibres remain in their unknotted state as effected by the practitioner and remain soft (or increase in softness depending on the severity of the spasm) ready for a return to exercise. The elevation in bodily temperature that occurs following a 20 minute session remains for several hours, therefore capillaries remain more dilated so therapy is effectively continuing long after Equissage has been removed.

Similarly if the cause proves to be a trapped nerve, then a chiropractor will be required to attend to the consequent subluxation(s). After treatment Equissage will help restore proper blood flow and revitalise the nerve or nerves that have been trapped and ease soreness and tightness that may be present depending on how much discomfort the trapped nerve has caused and how long it has been in existence. By using Equissage alone a subluxation cannot be corrected; symptoms may be temporarily eased but the cause will still be there. In instances where nerves such as the sciatic nerve are involved, as with people, this is very painful so a horse probably will not be very happy if an Equissage is applied, sending vibrations along the nerve pathways; wait until a practitioner has treated the horse, then let Equissage take over.

General soreness of the back can readily be a result of particularly strenuous work or the addition of new exercises into the working programme. Equissage is well-known for its abilities with regard to easing tension and relaxing tightness in muscles all over the body, not just the back.

See also: Kissing Spine


For general soreness, use the Pad on a No.2-3 setting for 20-30 minutes a day after exercise. Additional use of the Hand Unit around the main sore spot will provide extra relief and well as more targeted therapy. However if a horse is prone to tightness, etc. then use Equissage prior to exercise for 20 minutes on a No.3-No.4 setting for 10 minutes, turned up to a higher setting (up to No.8) for 10 minutes.

Following therapy from a practitioner, then take their specific advice depending upon exactly what treatment has been effected. However, as a general guide, bearing in mind that a horse can feel a bit sore after such treatment, then a more gentle massage will be welcome. A 20-30 minute session with the Pad set on No.2-No.3 will be of most benefit to aid restorative healing.

If a horse is particularly prone to a sore back then additional targeted use of the Hand Unit is acceptable. Gently apply the Unit along the length of the spine, both directly on the nerve channel and also a couple of inches below the spine (on either side of the back) on a medium to high setting.