Everyone's experiences of "Cold Backed"

Wally

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Apr 16, 2000
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What is everyone's experiences of cold backed horses?

How did it come to light?

Were they mardy every time the saddle went on or just when I rider was added?

Was it the girth that sparked it, the saddle or the rider?

Was it ever tracked down to a back injury or a badly fitted saddle?

Was it ever cured, or just worked round?
 

mystiquemalaika

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Jan 7, 2013
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There was a tb at a yard I used to be at a few years back,he was cold backed,I would say they managed it as opposed to cured,they did have vets,chiros,physio,saddler etc regular but it was more managed.he would be tacked up and led round for 10-15 mins girth adjusted slowly and rider added slowly and lightley while always keeping him moving,that seemed to be the main thing for him,took a while getting sorted to go out but once out he was always happy and relaxed and while they didn't compete they were keen hackers and often wnet for a few hours.
Another at a yard I worked on was traced to kissing spine after a long lengthy diagnosis she was an ex racer never looked well so to speak and was extreme to react to enything on her back.I never rode her but she was one of my 6 I looked after she was retired at 5.
 

Libbyo

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Mar 5, 2006
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I think? that my Ivy is/was cold backed. But i also think Im using the term literally not medically if that makes sence.
Shes my grey driving shetland.
When you put the saddle pad on her back she reacts sometimes quite violently. Girthing her was almost impossible at times. She would kick out.
Shes seen the vet/ chiro/ had bute trials...... Nothing was ever found.
However with very careful slow work we have almost resolved it.
I can harness her up very slowly from the wrong side 95% of the time.
Once put too, she drives wonderfully I might add.
 

Mary Poppins

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Oct 10, 2004
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My only experience of a cold backed horse was one on my old yard. The rider could not sit straight down in the saddle or she would get bucked off. She had to stand up in her stirrups for a good 5 minutes and then gently sit down. Most of the time the horse would be OK then.

I don't know any details, I just used to watch her and think that it was very odd and that the horse must be in pain for it to act like that.
 

Wally

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Apr 16, 2000
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it was very odd and that the horse must be in pain for it to act like that.

THis is the odd thing about so many horses who are "cold backed" and nothing has ever been diagnosed. Yet 2-3 minutes after being very odd they are going well without the slightest hint that they ever behaved oddly
 

Mary Poppins

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THis is the odd thing about so many horses who are "cold backed" and nothing has ever been diagnosed. Yet 2-3 minutes after being very odd they are going well without the slightest hint that they ever behaved oddly

That is exactly what this horse was like. He would move nicely, jump and show no signs of discomfort after the initial 5 minutes. But if you did sit directly on his back, he wouldn't stop bucking until the rider was off.
 

Rubic

Equine Karaoke Queen
Apr 15, 2012
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I rode a horse once that was said to be "cold backed". He was a schoolmaster in a riding school (quite a fancy one) and was an ex showjumper. Before being tacked up they put him under their horse solarium thing (i think they are just heat lamps), tacked him up slowly and when you mounted him you had to do so very slowly and almost break it down into parts then lots of walking around before trotting. After all that he was fine. They said he was like that when they got him but they'd had him checked over and they couldn't find anything wrong with him or the tack. They just put it down to previous bad experiences.
 

eml

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Apr 29, 2002
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www.ivanhoeequestrian.net
One of our Tbs was coldbacked when we got him, in his case it was just a matter of needing to develop correct back muscles to carry a normal weight person!!

I think in most cases vets will say it is a back muscle problem which can be managed and in younger horses developed. I believe the use of a massage pad or heat lamps before work may be beneficial.
 

Flipo's Mum

Heavy owner of a Heavy
Aug 17, 2009
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Friends horse was stabled for a tendon issue but be has bad claustrophobia and attempted to jump out over a five bar gate and speared his butt on a metal post. He recovered really well, but he tends to need massaged every four or five weeks if she's getting him competition fit. He is cold backed now, and I've known of one occasion where he flung himself on the ground when she wasn't able to get him to walk about for two seconds once he had his saddle on at a show. She is very good with him and he tries his heart out for her, he's a fab horse in every other way and considering the muscle damage that was done, it's a wonder he's here with us today.
 

Sparky Lily

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Nov 27, 2008
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My experience is similar to other replies. One of the riding school horses was cold backed. Saddle had to be put on slowly and carefully, girth done up a hole at a time. But once the saddle had been on for a few minutes with a reasonably tight girth, a rider could get on with no bother. He fussed a bit when the girth was tightened, but otherwise OK. Great little horse too.
 

Cortrasna

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Aug 5, 2009
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I only have experience of one on a personal level. No problem whatsoever with tacking up, tightening girth etc. But always had to stand in the stirrups and walk around for a short while before gently lowering myself onto the saddle, after that all was totally normal and no issues. Never found any real reason for it, just accepted as one of those things and thats how you rode him.:confused:
 

sjp1

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Sep 14, 2009
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We have one on the yard.

She is quite a fine TB mare and when the rider gets on, they have to get off her back and move off smartish.

She is fine after a few strides.

She doesn't get hacked out very much - generally in the school, because she gets a bit excited when out, but on the rare occasions she has been out and I have been present she goes sideways down hills - we have very steep hills both up and down.

I have always put it down to the fact that she doesn't hack out, therefore isn't very strong physically, but it may be down to the fact that she has a back issue.
 

Wally

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Apr 16, 2000
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Well, we have been working away, getting her fit, gently with lots and lots and lots of walking and very slow tolting for short spaces.

Each time I have got on I have treated her like a "cold backed" horse, I either lunge or lead her half a mile down the road, doing the girt up a hole every 150 yards or so. Getting on in the village hall car park and so far so good. Nice relaxed horse ready to do some work. No freezing, no shaking and no panic attacks.

This last week or so I have been getting on closer and closer to home and cutting down lunging times in the school.

Last time I rode her in the school I left the saddle on for 10 minutes before I got on, and we got no bad reaction, and today and yesterday I got on at home without the leading to the village hall.

So, my guess was it was insufficient strength in her back and the fittening has built her up, or she was just having a bit of a wobble about a scary video playing in her head. I think we've managed to replace the scary video with lots and lots of nice ones. :D :D :D very happy dance!
 

popularfurball

Learning all the time
Jul 18, 2005
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I've found it as you say Wally.

I can't have someone hold madam or she goes up (either end), can't have a balance and can't use a mounting block. It's not ideal but stick her head in some grass and I can get on no issue and she will stay put whilst I adjust everything.

A massive part is tack change and trust, but also a change in routine.
 

Wally

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Apr 16, 2000
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A massive part is tack change and trust, but also a change in routine.

We went through several bits, All snaffles, she had been ridden regularly in Iceland in an Icelandic curb bit. Several saddles were gone through too! Dentist, 2 vets.

I think she is a bit of a sensitive "chestnut mare" and needs to trust her rider...or she's been trained a bit hard before we got her.

But anyway, whatever the cause of her panic attacks it seems she has got over them and we are making headway
 

TBminx

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Mar 22, 2013
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I was told my mare was a bit cold backed when first loaned her as she was sour in the stable being tacked up and didnt want saddle on then would hollow back as I mounted and hump sometimes and ride very hollow etc and I was told this was typical of tbs etc etc but we were not convinced and a back check confirmed a sore poor girl was surprisingly hadnt ditched me when really sore for quite some time :cry:

She was a different girl after a few physio sessions :biggrin::inlove:

I do know one that is and owner says she uses sheepskin or pad on a radiator and saddle on then walks a while or lunges or walker then rides and this helps her immensely :wink:
 

TBminx

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Totally unrelated but I know someone who keeps bits wrapped up and warms them with boiled water before tacks up in the winter which is lovely but a bit excessive for some :giggle:
 

popularfurball

Learning all the time
Jul 18, 2005
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We went through several bits, All snaffles, she had been ridden regularly in Iceland in an Icelandic curb bit. Several saddles were gone through too! Dentist, 2 vets.

I think she is a bit of a sensitive "chestnut mare" and needs to trust her rider...or she's been trained a bit hard before we got her.

But anyway, whatever the cause of her panic attacks it seems she has got over them and we are making headway

Yes I think mine is secretively chestnut!!

There is such a big thing though for change of routine - I still can't get madam near a mounting block, four years on - ok to be fair I've never tried training her either - but even a hint of it and she rushes off, no lmatter what or who is in her way! He no longer rears/bucks but she does charge off.
 
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