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Recognising back pain in horses

C. Lesimple, C. Fureix, V. Biquand, M. Hausberger

BACK disorders are common among ridden horses, but recognising the presence and extent of back pain can be difficult. While some horses may show signs of gait alteration or lameness, the main signs of back problems in horses are behavioural changes such as increased aggression or escape attempts, which could be easily misinterpreted by owners or people who look after horses. This study aimed to compare subjective evaluations of back problems among people looking after horses with the results of clinical evaluations.

Two similar studies are reported and analysed. In the first, 59 working horses from riding schools in France were evaluated via manual palpation by a chiropractor, who assessed the presence and intensity of back pain. The people who owned or cared for the horses were given a questionnaire that included questions relating to back pain. According to the results of manual palpation, 43 of the 59 horses (73 per cent) were severely affected by back pain, while seven (12 per cent) were slightly affected. However, the people looking after the horses only reported back pain in 13 (22 per cent) of the horses, indicating …

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