Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Allison Price
Recently, I was at a rodeo and noticed that a horse with a curved back captured third place in barrel racing. I was intrigued to see why horses can have curved backs, and if there are ways to stop it.
Due to genetics, some horses have curved backs. This can also occur when horses are overweight before they reach maturity. Horses with longer backs may develop it as they age and lose muscle tone.
Swayback horses are something that most horse owners avoid. However, they can be just as stable as normal horses. This condition is easily understood by those who are interested.
Horses have curved backs because of this.
Horses with curved backs are often due to genetics, or because they have been carrying heavy loads since a young age. This is before their back strength has developed enough to support the weight.
Swayback is a common condition in horses with a long back. As horses age, connective tissues and tendon in their backs and stomachs may begin to weaken.
Their backs lose their structural integrity, and they begin to sag. Over time, this effect can continue for many years and eventually, their back will become unnaturally curled.
The spine of young swayback horses might be unusual. Multiple bones make up the spine. They connect to form a long chain. These bones are known as vertebrae (plural).
It has been proven that certain vertebrae in horses with curved backs are abnormally shaped. These vertebrae don’t have the ability to fully develop, and they can cause a portion of the spine curve and damage nearby vertebrae.
Is it possible to prevent horses from swaying?
Swayback can be a genetic condition that is caused by a recessive genes. In these cases, both the sire or dam must have swaybacks in order to pass this trait on to their offspring.
This genetic component is likely why there are so many swayback horses, less than one percent. Avoiding breeding two swayback horses is one way to stop swayback.
You may be able delay the onset if you have a swayback foal. Make sure it has the right vitamins and nutrients and don’t overburden him. Avoid excessive exertion.
Can you fix a swayback horse?
Although you might love a horse’s performance and ability to move, it can’t control its swayback. Can you change the horse’s topline so that it takes a more normal shape?
There is currently no way to return a swayback pony back to its original shape. This is because horse muscles and connective tissue are irreversible.
It doesn’t matter if your horse has a swayback in their youth or in adulthood. This is something that you can’t “fix”. Although there are exercises that can strengthen the topline, it is not possible to expect it to return to normal.
The upside is that horses with curved backs can be just as efficient as regular horses.
Horses’ performance is not affected by swayback.
The spine can curve in extreme cases when a swayback occurs in animals such as dogs, goats, or humans. They are more susceptible to paralysis, impaired movement or even death in these cases.
Horses have a stable and even curve, so even the most obvious swaybacks will follow an even, stable path. The horse spine is extremely rigid, which is the most important thing. The horse’s spine is extremely rigid, so the slightest deviation in one or two vertebrae or loss of muscle connectivity aren’t enough to compromise its physical integrity.
A swayback can compete in all competitive equine events if they have a healthy diet and get enough exercise. Swayback is also more common in horses that have long backs. My experience has shown that horses with longer backs have a more organized gait.
Is swayback harmful to horses?
When I first saw a swayback, I was just beginning to feel sympathy for the horse’s back. Although I believed that the horse must be uncomfortable at all times, it is likely not true.
Horses don’t feel any pain from a swayback. It is a chronic and often innate condition that horses experience. Instead of developing suddenly, it becomes a gradual “grow into” strong>
A swayback can be caused by a heavy load. This is especially true for horses that are young or have long backs. It is very painful if a swayback is caused by excessive weight. However, horses that are overloaded will exhibit signs of fatigue and pain.
A horse might refuse to be ridden by a rider who is too big for it and causes injury to its back. It is hard to believe that horses can carry heavy riders without any objection.
Do you want to ride a swayback pony?
We don’t know much about swayback horses, so there are few worldwide. Due to the way the horse’s back curves downwards, I was worried that the rider could cause injury.
It is reasonable to assume that riding a horse on a swayback could cause discomfort. This is why many people hesitate to ride swaybacks or place a significant load on them.
It’s okay to ride a horse on a swayback, as long as it fits properly. Normal horses don’t like swaybacks. If the saddle is too tight, it can cause significant pain in the loin and withers.
If you are using a standard saddle to saddle a horse with curving backs, the only thing that touches the horse’s back is the saddle’s front or back. The unusually large contours of swaybacks mean that the saddle’s middle will not fit correctly around the horse’s back (also called “bridging”)
The horse is then able to carry all of its weight on its front and rear. This causes excessive pressure around the abdomen and behind the shoulder blades.
The muscles may weaken over time and the horse may develop back problems.
To evenly distribute the horse’s weight, a properly fitting saddle is crucial It is important to distribute your horse’s weight evenly to avoid injury. Also, it makes it easier to balance your horse when the saddle fits correctly.
What type of saddle is best for a swayback horse?
There are many saddles available, so it is not difficult to ride a horse with curving backs. There are many ways to ensure your horse’s comfort.
A new saddle may not be necessary if your horse’s contours are not too obvious. Horses with curved backs over time will find this to be true. A saddle that is used regularly will often adapt to the horse’s abnormal shape.
This is true for some horses, but it is not always the best course of action. A custom-made saddle is safer for horses with noticeable swaybacks. Customizing a saddle can be difficult, so it is best to have one done after the horse is fully grown.
The abnormal curves are most noticeable in the first two years of a swayback’s life. Similar to normal horses’ development, a mature swayback’s muscle growth stops and it doesn’t need a new saddle as frequently.
It is important to know how a saddle should fit your horse. I look at sweat patterns and take the saddle off.
Consistent dampness should be observed throughout the back. If there are dry areas on the horses’ backs, it is likely that the saddle is not aligned with the curve of the back and is causing pain pressure on the horse’s back and topline.
Also, you can check the clearance provided by the saddle at both the top and sides of your withers. Two fingers should be available for horses with average heights. The width of the saddle would be less towards the middle, where it should be parallel to floor.
The saddle may not be fitting properly if you notice swelling or lumps where you are sitting on the horse’s back. These lumps can be caused by injured muscle tissue and should be considered serious.
To accommodate horses with curved backs, saddle pads can be used. My favorite western saddle pad fills in any gaps left by saddles and provides ample cushioning to alleviate any discomfort horses may feel on their backs.
You can find many types and sizes of saddle pads. A bad one can cause more problems. You should keep trying different saddles and pads until you find one that is comfortable and allows you to ride safely with your horse.
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!