My husband would like to know if there is such a thing as a “coldback horse”. In other words “one that you have to lunge before each ride”? We think not, but there are others who tell us yes. Robert says he’ll take your word before anyone else’s.

Monty’s Answer:

The Coldback horse is a phenomenon generally referred to by horse people whereby the horse tends to want to buck with the saddle or the saddle and rider in the first minutes of any given day. The inference is that when the back is cold the horse wants to buck. When the back warms up, the tendency is to accept the saddle and rider. When assessing this phenomenon, one wants to be very careful not to confuse a physical problem with a psychological problem.

Many Coldback horses will generally outgrow it and resolve the problem pretty much on their own. One should be careful to exercise moderately before mounting. If we are dealing with a physical problem, the odds are that it will not resolve itself without dealing with the physical malady before expecting a resolution to what we term the Coldback problem. At this point in time I know of no other diagnostic solution than to X-ray the dorsal processes of the spinal column.

Once the X-ray is completed, the competent vet will diagnose normality or abnormality of the dorsal processes, their spacing and their alignment. Should there be the problem of misalignment, it is likely that the vet will determine it to be ‘Kissing Spine’. I am discovering that many horses who have heretofore been termed buckers or horses with many negative labels are actually horses with anatomical abnormalities that can cause extreme pain with the weight of a rider. One should be sure to investigate the potential for physical problems before labeling the horse as having psychological problems.

What can you do to help this horse? The vet might use an anti-inflammatory between the dorsals or even the removal of some processes with no ill effect with the horse being able to carry the saddle and rider.