Question # 299: My OTTB was recently diagnosed with some major back pain associated with saddle fit (I guess two different saddle fitters looking at it 4 different times wasn't enough!)....

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...The vets recommended chiropractic adjustment, acupuncture and some other therapies, as well as work on strengthening his back and core since it is underdeveloped due to pain from the saddle (my saddle is too big for his back, it sits past his last rib). He has always been adjusted regularly, and we are working on easing him into acupuncture (so far he is not a fan) with the help of some other therapies to help relieve his tension. My question is, do you have any groundwork exercises to improve his back and core strength until I find a saddle that fits him better? My current plan is to hand walk him up and down long gradual hills 3 times a week with maybe some lunging 2x a week between those days. He is in decent shape other than his back, and we are shooting for a schooling show and clinic 5 weeks out contingent on finding a better saddle and his comfort/strength level. We would shoot to do a Combined Test at Beginner Novice, we have competed successfully through Novice I just don't want to push the height so close to his reconditioning. Once we find a new saddle, I plan on implementing your other exercises recommended for building a topline and for horses with tense backs, I just want to start on the ground so we don't lose too much conditioning! Thank you so much! (Natalie)

Hi Natalie!

Sorry to hear that your horse has become sore in his back! The key to building back strength, whether in or out of the saddle, is to make sure the horse is really using those muscles when he moves. This can be surprisingly hard, as horses can be experts at holding their lower back muscles still and tight while moving... (Click on Question Title above (in blue) to read full answer)

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