Could equine ulcers be causing my Dressage horse’s back pain? The answer is certainly yes.
Equine hindgut ulcers, or Right Dorsal Colitis, is a serious problem for competition horses, especially Dressage horses. It has been determined that 1 in 3 horses suffer from hindgut ulcers (ulcers in the small intestine, large intestine and/or cecum). A Dressage horse is expected to be supple and flexible like a ballet dancer, able to do movements effortlessly and equally on each side….nothing should look difficult or labored. But, when your horse is suffering from hindgut ulcers, movements in any direction can become extremely painful. Research has been done that specifically shows the right bend can suffer in dressage horses, as the majority of the hind gut lies on the horse’s right side. It is no surprise that ulcers located in that area can make the horse unwilling to bend right or work off the right rein.
So what does this have to do with your horses back pain? Everything.
When a horse consistently carries itself in a crooked manner, from ulcers or any other specific pain, he is putting his spinal health in jeopardy. By attempting to not use the painful area, he is putting undue strain on other areas of his anatomy not designed for that kind of pressure. It is not uncommon for an ulcer stricken horse to refuse to bend right, thus making the back, loin, sacro-illiac (SI), and even neck areas extremely sore. Muscles, ligaments, tendons and bone can be affected by this and it only gets worse with more work and effort. Eventually, the horse begins to no longer move his joints and limbs in a full movement range which then places unnatural stresses on those areas too. Avoidance of right canter lead, dis-jointed canters (especially in the hindlegs) and reluctance to canter at all eventually become normal for the horse. After a long enough time, this constant crookedness can also cause the bony changes of kissing spine in the horses back…an extremely painful and debilitating condition