Is it possible that ulcers cause horse back pain?


Back pain is most  common in performance horses, especially the dressage horse. 


Back pain is often not considered to be the result of ulcers.


Symptoms of horse back pain

  • Behavioral changes
  • Discomfort from front to back 
  • Pressure on back
  • Grooming -  kick and paws
  • Girthy
  • Wont turn right 



Cause of horse back pain


Sore back muscles and rib subluxation are both common causes of horse back pain.


Here are some more common causes of horse back pain:


  • Underlying lameness
  • Poorly fitted saddle
  • Bridles and bits not fitted properly 
  • Sore feet
  • Poorly conditioned horse
  • Ulcers



Horse refusing to turn right

Equine hindgut ulcers, or Right Dorsal Colitis, is a serious problem for competition horses, especially dressage horses. The dressage horse is expected to be supple and flexible like a ballet dancer, with effortless movement on each side. Nothing should look difficult or labored in this discipline. When your horse is suffering from hindgut ulcers, movements in any direction can become extremely painful. The ulcer pain feels like burning and gnawing in the back. 


Dressage horses may have problems with their right bend, since most of their hindgut is on their 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.


What happens if left untreated?

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 some time, this constant crookedness can also cause kissing spine ( narrowing of the space between the top of the spines) .These will rub together resulting in boney changes and deliberating pain.

How to treat equine hindgut ulcers  

Absucralfate is effective to treat back pain that occurs due to ulcer. Sucralfate is effective in reducing ulcer pain for 6 to 8 hours. It forms a coating over ulcers, protecting the area from further injury and helps ulcers heal more quickly. Horse owners should administer this ulcer medication at least twice a day, ideally 3 times a day for maximum benefit. It may take from 4 to 8 weeks to heal the ulcer completely. Be patient with your horse and you will both be rewarded!