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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

August 7, 2011

Sore back

I've been feeling FANTASTIC about Journey's gear.  Everything seems to fit reasonably well, function great, it's all light weight, and easy to use.  Yesterday morning we had a 10 mile early morning ride (5 miles of moo-goo hills) (5 miles of rolling terrain) utilizing all three gaits, but mostly the posting trot.  She behaved well (except for the scary I saw a turkey there once spot) and we made reasonable, slow, time.  After feeding yesterday evening I let the three amigos out.  Journey I always let out last so she can get her cookie & a peppermint which she loves.  She also likes her itches scratched and some brushing as she stands in the outside aisle of the barn.  I start brushing and she dips her back BIG TIME.  I use my hands and the loin area is pink, inflamed, and sore.   So sore that she wanted to walk off rather than have me touch it.  LSEGH checked her this morning and he said she was completely non-reactive.  Seems I remember that Puddin' and Phebes both had this issue early on in their training.  Wondering if the skin on the back has to harden up some to riding?  I'm using a wool backed Skito pad with 1/2 inch foam under her saddle.  Yesterday I noticed that the pommel was a bit downhill.  Journey is built that way slightly.  I picked up some foam and added it to the front of her saddle pad to see if we can level things out.  It is raining here this morning (yes rain, imagine that!) but I plan to work on these things if the weather is conducive to a ride.
Journey's registry.  It hasn't happened.  In fact the check has not been cashed, and I can get no response from the Appaloosa Sport Horse Association either by phone or email.  Not sure if I should stop payment on the check or continue to wait and see...but I'm looking into another registry that does respond to emails and answer questions, and will not require a spay for hardship registration.  They cost more, but I see it as an investment in Journey's future if something should happen to me that I can no longer ride.  Not a guarantee that she'd have a good home, but maybe a good home would want her quicker than not if she was papered.  Crap shoot/ but I'll do what I can.
Today we rode again and did about 11 miles but we were glacially slow.  It was very humid this morning and Journey just didn't have a whole lot of go.  Since we are trying to build up to a "strong" 10 miles before increasing speed, you might say the car right now is in neutral.  We are working but not really getting anywhere tangible.  We did go down the paved road today.  She was very bothered about crossing a bridge span that has a seriously low railing.  She started to panic and I could just see me and the horse free falling for forty feet into the creek below.   So I took a calming breath, and let her back up which is what she wanted to do.  Steadied her, dismounted and led her on across.  She was a little prancey at first but then took it in like a trooper.  We will hand walk it a few times before I attempt to ride over again since it is a very dangerous place to have a horse unravel.  She's pretty smart, and I think she will be fine with a few repetitions on the bridge.  She also had her first motorcycle/ fourwheeler + jangling wagon episode on the road today at the same time.  One was behind us and the other coming at us.  The fourwheeler was moving on fast and I waved my arm for him to slow it down....people amaze me, and not always in a good way.  He did crank it down and I motioned that we were moving off to the side, then he passed just as the motorcycle got to us.  She was very calm and good.  Since we hadn't experienced either before I wanted to get us in a safer place for the experience (ie: not black top) standing on the grassy edge.  I appreciated the 4-wheeler slowing down for us.  The motor cycle didn't cut us any slack, but she was okay.  I was proud of Ms. Fancy Pants.  We also had our best little canter so far today.  The neighbor mows grassy roads into his fields so you can see your footing well and let the horse move out a little.  She stretched into it good today without getting "racey" like she did yesterday.  I felt very balanced and relaxed and it was like flying ....LOVE IT.  Her spottedness needs a lot more work at the trot.  She is up to about one fourth of the ride at the trot, but she really gets to huffing.  Though her little body hasn't experienced a lot of wear and tear (unless you count up all the barbed wire scars), it is actually a little bit of a detriment as she will have to work very hard to gain the condition of a non-couch tater horse.  She has no place close to the stamina of Phebes, though I know it will come with time.  

Her hooves are evolving.  In fact they are evolving to the point that I may have to go down a boot size in the wides, or may eventually not even need the wides once all the flare is worked out.  She still flares slightly at the heels, and she does not have a good heel first landing on her hoof falls, moving rather flat footed.  She continues to be very sensitive on rock, though is handling it better than six weeks ago.  I can't forsee her having the rock crunching hooves that Phebes had anytime soon, and perhaps no time ever.  Once we get into hoof boots, it should liberate us to ride some miles, some REAL miles.  But she did 21 miles this weekend, which is a step-up even if we have no speed what-so-ever.


  1. I think a lot of them get a sore back when they start working harder more often. Their movement and their fitness is reflected in their back.
    When I have a horse that is just muscle sore - not a saddle fit issue - I give them a little spa treatment. Dissolve Epsom salts in HOT water. Soak a plain old towel in the water. Wring out well so that it it not dripping. Lay it over the sore part of the back, cover with a sheet to hold in the heat. It will stay warm for about 15 minutes and the Epsom salts act as a muscle relaxer.
    Rinse and repeat as long as you can talk the horse into standing still.

  2. Remember, skin issues on back pain usually react to slight touch, but not bad when you push with pressure with the palms of your hand.

    Muscle reacts to pushing, but not normally the "soft" touch".

    If skin, consider she had too much heat build up and her back got scalded. Or, friction rub.

  3. tx,

    That is helpful. It is soft touch and the brush that is bothering her. The skin looks pink and a little "ruffled" right under where my seat bones would be. Can they get friction rubs early on? Then toughen up? She is a very thin skinned horse. She does want to build a lot of heat under the saddle pad, and she's also a heavy sweating horse (yeah, another one). Puddin' used to get sensitive when I first started riding her, but over time it seemed like she hardened up and was less sensitive.

    Next time out I'm going to switch off to the old Skito that has the blended bottom and see if it is cooler for her than the wool one. I can also put two sets of pads in it if I have to and thicken it up. Not sure if it is a friction issue or the heat. :/

    But definitely not sore muscle.

  4. Now that I've pondered a few minutes, scalded is what it looks like. So how to get that heat to vent?


  5. How about a Dixie Midnight Pad?