A Comprehensive Guide To Horse Withers And Problems

Last Updated on March 2, 2022 by Allison Price

Did you know that horse’s neck, back and shoulder shape not only determines the horse’s appearance but also dictates every movement it makes.

You should be familiar with the various types of horses and the specific tack that they require. This will help your horse long-term. This will help prevent future problems and allow your horse to enjoy life more. Massaging horses’ withers has been proven to be a relaxing activity for them.

We have compiled a comprehensive guide to help you understand the potential back problems that your horse may face and what you can do to prevent them. Continue reading:

This article will discuss:

Normal Withers

A normal-withered horse will have withers that are smooth and blend into its neck and back. The horse’s withers might be placed well beyond the point of the shoulder. This means that the horse’s neck may appear twice as long as its underline. The shoulders extend forward from the withers at an angle that allows for full motion.

Horse Withers

Normal withers horses are easier to fit a saddle or pad on. They can fit into a medium, regular or semi-Quarter tree and their withers will hold a saddle easily. They don’t require much in the way of adjustments to their tack, other than the basic principles of pad and saddle fitting.

High Withers

A high-withered horse is common in saddlebreds and thoroughbreds. It has withers that are especially long and slope backwards. This creates a steep ridge towards the back. The bump between the neck and back where the shoulder blades meet is higher than the average. This creates a sharp angle between its shoulders and the tip of their withers. The back of a high-withered horse is also slightly wider than a horse with normal or average withers.

These features may make it difficult for you to find the right saddle or pad for your horse. However, they can help improve your horse’s performance. Because of its conformation, horses may be able to run faster and jump higher because they have a longer stride.

A saddle with a high pommel design is best for horses with high-withered legs. This will allow the shoulders and withers more freedom while also reducing friction. A gaited saddle for horses with narrow shoulders and broad backs, such as a cutback, may be a good choice. It has a narrow front and wide rear, which will give your horse the support it requires.

You can also get a saddle pad to help prevent injuries and reinforce your saddle balance. Cutback pads can be used in conjunction with your cutback saddle. These pads have openings that allow the withers to pass through the pad without any extra padding. is another option. These pads can be used to treat your horse’s back and provide the protection it requires.

Low Withers

This horse is also known as the mutton-withered horse. It has a steep slope towards the rear and lacks shoulder definition. You may notice a flatter or rounder back. Sometimes, horses may not have any withers. Low withers are common in Arabians, ponies, American Quarter horses and ponies. Your horse’s conformation may result in a reduced range of motion than horses with higher or normal withers. Although the horse might have choppy strides it can still perform as well.

A saddle for low-withered horses may be a good choice. These saddles have a flat top and have shorter backs to accommodate your horse’s shape. A straight back pad is a good choice for saddle pads. It has openings at your horse’s spine that allow air to circulate. A rear-riser pads are another option. They will balance the ride and provide extra padding at the back.

Kissing Spine

Kissing spine refers to the overriding of dorsal spinous process (ORDSP). This happens when the dorsal spinous process (two or more bony projections at top of horse’s vertebrae) is too close together.

This condition can reduce back mobility and cause pain for horses when they move, as the bones of their spines are interfering. This condition can cause it to have difficulty flexing or extending its back which can adversely impact its performance.

Take your horse to a veterinarian if they have a kissing spine. They can recommend the best treatment. These may include shock wave therapy, corticosteroid injections, chiropractic and acupuncture treatment, shock wave or muscle relaxants. It may also be beneficial to do exercises to stretch the horse’s back and lengthen it. If none of these methods work, your horse may require surgery.

Kissing spines are a common occurrence in the area where saddle and rider would be seated. This highlights the importance to find the best tack for your horse.

Saddle Bridging

Saddle bridging is when the saddle bars contact only the rear and front of the saddle. This causes excessive pressure that can cause friction and discomfort for the horse. If the saddle fits properly, the horse might be experiencing swayback. Swayback (also known as lordosis) is when the supporting ligaments in a horse’s spine become weaker and cause a hollow back or swayback posture. Swayback horses can cause saddle problems. It is important to inspect your horse and determine if the spine or saddle are the problem.

Although swayback can still be ridden, the horse’s range of motion is severely restricted. You can still correct this problem by proper horse training (riding the horse on ground poles and properly longeing your horse at work walk or trot)

If your horse has swayback, but is not in pain from saddle bridging, it will be more difficult for them to move and could lead to back problems. Swayback can also be caused by a poorly fitted saddle, so it is important to get the right fit.

It can be difficult to spot saddle bridging because you may not notice it until the horse is in pain. Check your horse’s back after a ride for dry spots along its withers or around the lumbar. Once the saddle is fully girthed, you can feel the underside of it. Your saddle could be bridging if there is less contact between the front and back than the center.

To fill in the gap and ensure that the panels are fully covered, place a shim underneath the saddle. You can also use a saddlepad specifically made for saddle bridging to provide better fit and cushioning.

Long-term Effects of Ill Fitting Tack

The wrong tack can cause back problems in your horse or worse, condition like kissing the spine. The wrong tack can also cause injuries, such as sore muscles, skin irritation, and bruising. These tacks may also worsen any existing issues that your horse might have.

The right tack can help extend your horse’s life expectancy and performance. It will also save you from long periods of rehabilitation and rest. A domestic horse’s average life expectancy is between 20 and 30 years. However, they can live longer if taken care of properly. You will save thousands on vet bills by taking care of your horse.

How to Choose the Best Tack

A saddle pad that fits a normal-withered horse will work, provided they follow the sizing guidelines and consider the discipline they will be participating in. Half-pad can be used to support or correct a horse’s back while also serving other important functions such as wicking moisture, protecting and insulating. You should also be aware of the type of material you use. A Gel Pad is the best of all the materials on the market. You can also find front risers that can ease the back pain of low-withered horses.

This guide should have provided you with some insight into how to protect your horse from any back-related injuries. A good understanding of your horse’s anatomy will make a difference in its health and your riding experience. Proper gear can make a big difference in the life of your horse.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!