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Thread: Horses with an s-shaped neck

  1. #1
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    Default Horses with an s-shaped neck

    My (old) horse has had a decent amount of time in the paddock and has come back into work recently but I've noticed from the saddle that his neck has an s-shape to it when viewed from above, almost like a scoliosis between his wither and poll.
    He's also unwilling to soften and bend his neck laterally in the walk. On a completely loose rein he's fine, walks out nice and forward, stretches his neck out and relaxes his underneck even though that S is there.
    Pick up the reins or try and direct him left/right and he's like steering a plank of wood.

    Trot and canter are actually better, I'm presuming that's because there isn't much movement in the neck in those gaits whereas in the walk the neck does a bit more.
    After a few weeks work it hasn't actually improved, he's softening in the body between the withers and the tail but not between the withers and the jaw. It hasn't gotten worse but I would have hoped for some sort of improvement by now.

    I know that he does have some arthritis in his neck which was confirmed by xray but how much do I attribute to the arthritis, how much do I attribute to my rusty riding and how much to horse muscular issues that can be overcome? I don't know. The last time I rode was a year ago or two ago and he didn't have this issue, he lifted his back and softened in the neck within a couple minutes so I suspect his stiffness is a bit more than just regular muscle stiffness.

    Has anyone had this before? What was your plan of attack? Get another rider to try, and then vet for shots in the neck for the arthritis? Vet first, see if it improves, then another rider if it doesn't? Or try chiro first to try straighten the neck and get some movement back in it? Or is that not an option when there's arthritis in the neck? Has anyone had any success improving a neck like this?
    Last edited by leesa; 12-04-19 at 08:44 PM.

  2. #2
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    my guess is this is caused by a couple of things -
    his age and lack of work = muscle deterioration
    and the arthritis in his neck = painful and has resulted in him holding his neck like this to avoid pain.

    I would consider a vet check him out and try a course of anti inflammatories (bute) with a course of cartrophen injections

    He may never totally improve, but may show some improvement with the above and a bit of work.

    I think you're lucky, my boy has had arthritic changes in his neck, which has resulted in pinched long nerves which in turn have made him totally unrideable as if the nerve gets pinched, he explodes.
    He is also losing his proprioception of his hind legs and a front leg. Poor boy he misses being in work!

  3. #3
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    That's really sad. There's nothing I hate watching more than a horse deteriorate with wear and tear, it's just not fair. They don't understand so they compensate and then deteriorate even more.

    I think you're right about being lucky, I think it's only cropped up in the last 6 months so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's not too far gone to improve once medicated. Keeping his body moving with regular light work (within his limits) is the best thing for him impo.
    His back and hind end have improved with the work so I think he can't be too far gone, else his body wouldn't be improving at all. He's not stoic, he's not the type of horse to work through pain so the fact he's still willing to work is probably a good sign.

    Have you ever tried that accupuncture with the voltage? I've heard that it has shown some benefits and even some vets are offering it now
    Last edited by leesa; 13-04-19 at 02:26 PM.

  4. #4
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    all tripe…..
    The only thing wrong with a horse is that it is usually attached to a human

  5. #5
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    Which part? The accupuncture?

  6. #6
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    We had the physio see him and they did some acupuncture and also used a tens machine. It did seem to help him, but only short term. He will never be ridden again as he will kill someone, if not himself! The last time we lunged him on vet's instruction (and before we knew what was wrong) he wound up falling down. He got up and carried on as if nothing had happened.

    It is really sad
    Good luck with your boy it does sound as though he'll improve with work. Enjoy!

  7. #7
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    Leesa.. you are not a good enough rider to make the kind of conclusions you are making.
    Thats not your fault, it's just the way it is… :-)
    Your horse is a middle aged warmblood with no muscle tone and no fitness and you are not up to exercising him correctly enough.
    He may have an issue because he hasn't done anything for aeons, but you would be better to just keep quietly exercising him and forget about the vet and drugs
    Bend him at the walk left and right, gently.
    Then step off to the trot followed by transitions up and down in a large circle.
    Ignore what you imagine his neck is and pay attention to what he does and how he reacts.
    The problem is that you cannot know what is right and what is a problem, you are not an Orphan , c'est la vie
    The best you can do is to work him gently and very regularly…. that will do him more good then all the drugs on earth..
    The only thing wrong with a horse is that it is usually attached to a human

  8. #8
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    Wow, that's right, I forgot that you don't think there could ever be any body problems with a 19 year old horse who fractured his withers, twisted his pelvis and has some arthritis in his neck.
    pro riders and coaches have ridden my horse tgh, and you haven't, and I'll trust their opinions over yours.

    That aside, I had already questioned whether it's my riding unfitness contributing to it but I should have known you wouldn't miss an opportunity to put the boot in when you get a chance.
    I will always give this horse the benefit of the doubt given his history. Every single time.

  9. #9
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    Crikey!
    Good advice from tgh Leesa (not that you listen to me anyway, being a pro rider and all). Your reaction to his post is just crazy. Read what he has said again - also read what you have previously said in this thread.
    Sorry teeg - I know you are more than capable of taking care of yourself but Leesa’s reply to you was ... well ... I already said.

  10. #10
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    nope, tgh is just a bully.

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