On & Off Again Back Issues

This sounds quite similar to my mare who has an HX of EPM, lead issues, counterbending for balance and crowhopping/bucking. Have you had her titered for it? What bloodwork has been done?

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Have you done neck x-rays? Cervical arthritis can cause the issues you mention. SI issues can also cause them, but it is a difficult area to visualize. Have you considered doing a bone scan?

An ultra sound to check for ovary issues isn’t terribly expensive and can be worse during spring and fall heat cycles.

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We just did a stool sample just for kicks as the vet was already out but I’ll call up and ask about running blood work as well. I ran blood a few years ago and everything looked fine but might as well update the bloodwork.

Definitely going to look into reproductive issues but I haven’t done neck x-rays yet!. We did look into SI but was told it was fine

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Definitely get neck xrays.

Depending on what methods you used and the conformation of your horse, the SI is very difficult to determine if it is really fine. My horse’s SI was definitely not fine, but could have passed a full PPE…only the bone scan showed the SI was the real problem.

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Any updates in the past couple weeks? I feel like I could have written the same post about my mare (5 year old). We did find very mild kissing spine and ulcers, but treated for ulcers and have been bringing slowly back into work. However her back still shows soreness (despite not being ridden since early Dec - so definitely not saddle fit) and she is still bucking and switching behind a lot.

We have not ruled out SI yet, but all bodyworkers haven’t found any indication of soreness or stiffness in the SI area which makes me more hesitant to pull the trigger on extensive diagnostics there.

Her walk and trot work feels good - just really becomes evident in the canter!

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Hind gut test came back negative so no hind gut ulcers either. The vet wants to see if Adequan would make a difference and cleared me to ride her but I’m hesitant so I guess I’ll just have to think a bit more. Yes same here on the walk and trot work!

This is a very interesting thread. I’m in the middle of hind end lameness with my current horse. A few years ago, I was working through issues with a different horse with on and off lameness. I had several vets do lameness exams and wasn’t getting anywhere. My friend gave me good advice: “Stop messing around - put your horse in your trailer and get her to — (the best clinic/vets in our area)”. That worked then, and I finally pulled the same trigger for the current horse. Thought I had hock/back/SI issues, but the vet stated that back issues are not usually primary. Found problems with hind suspensory, which is what we are treating now with stall rest. Hind end lameness can be darn complicated: my horse may have had hock and SI issues, and developed the suspensory problem as compensation, or who knows what sequence all of this happened in. My advice to the OP: go to Tufts. Your situation sounds complex - you need a clinic with lots of tools. Best wishes to all of us - I’m hoping for a good recovery!


Agree to check for Lyme as you must be in New England to be close to Tufts. They will be able to check repro as well. Also might be worth looking at her Vitamin E levels, we are naturally deficient up here.

Also, I mention this very carefully: I had a hot hot sensitive gelding a long-ish time ago that I was on again off again in terms of was he hurting or not. He struggled in the canter especially to the right, his weak side, and was often spooky, refusing to go forward, would throw the occasional buck or go up and down in the transition or when something got difficult. I thought there must be an explanation/answer and there was one: ride better. I mention it because you tell me she is more open on the longe and you don’t mention a trainer for you or your horse being involved. Also, if this is an ongoing issue that pops up from time to time, it may be that as you ask more of her, you ask more of yourself as well. It’s just a thought!!


It seems we’re in the same area (New England - I’m in greater Boston area).

Other things we tested for:
Lyme - Negative
Vit E / Se - low, on supplement
Hind feet - xrayed and mild angle improvements possible but vet doubts they’re the source

I’ll keep you updated as we learn more as seems we’re facing very similar issues!

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Yes we’ve actually been to Tufts 5 times! That’s where one of our vets is based out of :slight_smile:

I do have a trainer and have had multiple upper level riders get on her for this reason! Unfortunate no change. I was actually just told the other day by my vet to look into Regumate but I have to call her back just to ask some questions about it

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Yes same area, Boston isn’t far from me! Hm I’ll ask my farrier & vet about hoof angles. The vitamin deficiency would be interesting, might end up doing that for the sake of it

I’d very much second having a test done for Lyme disease. It’s not that expensive, and the Cornell test is quite accurate.

It’s worth doing even if only to rule out Lyme disease.

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I’ll end up having it done, just have to ask my vet when she can come up again. I initially didn’t think it was lyme as whenever my horse gets a tick, it’s really noticeable and we’re not at a barn where there’s a tick issue at all. Anyways it will be good to cross it off the list regardless

Have you tried an Equioxx or Bute trial to see if there is any improvement?

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Yes! We did it for 3 weeks. I think I might also look into PEMF just to see what happens, kind of just looking around in the dark at this point.

I have nothing to add but wanted to say Good Luck! What a PITA!!!

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Have you and your Vet ever discussed 24/7 turnout for your horse? I did that with one of mine that had some on and off issues that we couldn’t pin down the cause and it helped mine. I would bring her in to ride her and she didn’t have the issues we had before. In my horse’s case I think the continual movement of being outside helped her a great deal. The muddy season was our biggest issue and then she was in a smaller, all weather turnout.

I hope you can figure out what is going on-it is so frustrating!


I’d actually really like to switch her to 24/7 turnout as I think she’d like it a lot. Unfortunately, I have had a hard time finding places that are available that offer it but I’m keeping my eye out! I also talked to my horse’s sports medicine surgeon that I worked with in both 2016 & 2018 so she was able to offer some advice so hopefully everything should work out!