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Things I can do to help my mare's back and gluteal soreness at home?

I have had my mare for 2 months now and her PPE didn’t show signs of pain. Now she is stiff attempting bends/carrot stretches to either side, and when my trainer tested her longissimus dorsi for soreness, she found a spot she could press into and cause the muscle to contract. Horse also tends to flinch when I curry that area. She also has the same thing on both sides in the meaty middle part of her gluteals.

The saddler is checking the fit of her saddle tomorrow and hopefully will find something to tweak or adjust. I’m hoping that is the case as opposed to something else, because horse is in very light work at the moment.

Massage, chiropractic, accupuncture, etc are not financially an option for me right now. What can I do to loosen her up and work on the muscle knots/trigger points at home? How worried about this should I be? As a new horse owner I’m trying not to let myself get whipped into a frenzy over this but I know how back pain in humans tends to be a tricky thing to treat/pinpoint and usually never gets resolved, so I’m really nervous and maybe a little scared.

Look up Masterson Method on YouTube. If you can afford it, it’s worth getting the book and video. It’s great for owners to stay in tune with their horses and very light touch so you won’t harm anything.

If you can though, I’d try to swing at least one veterinary chiro appointment if this persists. Sometimes they just tweak something and need a few days to work through it.


I have found a good massage body worker can do wonders. I also don’t associate lumbar pain with saddle fit. More likely hind hoof balance or uneven fitness.


See if you get a copy of Jet Ballou’s book

It has some great exercises and tips. I would guess the ones applicable to your situation would be walking your horse over ground poles - loosens up back and SI. And maybe tail pulls and backing up. Those are my go to exercises to keep my girl comfortable. She tends to get tight in her hindquarters and is very sensitive even to massaging.

I would also try some heat therapy if you think it is muscle soreness. If your horse is quiet, a heating pad that plugs in is great because it won’t cool off quickly.


I second Jec Ballou’s book 55 Corrective Exercises For Horses.

I’m also going to ask what you’re feeding as PSSM could be a possibility.

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I didn’t say anything about saddle fit and op says she can’t afford pro massage. She also said longissimus, not lumbar area specifically…

My younger horse has had periods of being back sore - to the point of x-rays looking for kissing spine (not present). I have found that making him move helps reduce the back pain immediately, and can make it go away after a few days.

I’m starting with longeing. For the most part I don’t longe in a circle. I use a cloverleaf pattern and walk through that 3-4 times, then do WT transitions on the cloverleaf and gradually increase the trot time until he’s trotted the cloverleaf 1-2 times without walking. Change reins and repeat in the other direction before moving out to a larger circle and doing TC transitions. Change rein again and do the TC transitions going the other way.

Very Important - this is exercise NOT training. If his trot is a pokey shuffle, I get him doing gentle transitions until it loosens up. I’m not asking for the strong working trot (that can engage the wrong muscles as he tries to do what’s asked and protect the painful areas). Same with canter. It is hard to let him do that, but it’s better for him.

I have had my horse for years and have learned his “I can’t carry you today” signal. If he’s up for it I will skip the canter and take him for a hack.

I got Jec Ballou’s book this year and I’m doing some of the exercises before and during the longe/ride as they get the horse to activate the correct postural muscles instead of using the gymnastic muscles to protect the painful area.

Doing less, or nothing with him generally doesn’t help his sore back. And further to my first post, if she has mild PSSM she needs to move and burn off the stored glycogen. It took me a long time to figure out NQR (not quite right) vs PSSM.

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I think I was trying to agree that a body worker was a good idea.

Look up Posture Prep with Dr. Pat Bona. It’s like a rubber curry that you use in a specific pattern ACROSS the muscle fibers to loosen the fascia. Here is her website; it has videos etc. Pretty sure you can get the tool in other places, but the education is on the website… https://drpatbona.com/product/posture-prep-for-horses-single-unit-pricing/


I’ve had nice responses from doing Masterson Method stuff. Lots of information on their website and tons on YouTube.

Recently I stumbled across Equine Bodywork Online on Instagram. My horse may respond even better to this than to Masterson. She has programs or guides to back work specifically and it’s not break-the-bank expensive. (Snippets are available free on Instagram.)

She gets 3qts ETEC Fibremax, 1lb alfalfa, and a probiotic chew 2x/day and 1 hoof health smartpak/day. The alfalfa is to prevent a recurrence of ulcers per vet and trainer recommendation.

I actually have a firm ‘massage’ curry just like that in a slightly different shape. Going to watch the videos and see what I can dig up.

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Did you get back rads?

When I got her? No. Also no for with this, because it just showed up about a week ago, though in hindsight it probably was going on longer than that because she was a little flinchy when I curried. I had been told all horses flinch there if there’s pressure applied though so I thought nothing of it.

What breed is she?

So that’s where things get complicated. She’s grade, and was sold to me as a grade QH - but by a sales barn that charges a lot more for quarter horses and doesn’t even list the breed of thoroughbreds in the ads for them (you have to call).

My vet and farrier believe she is full TB, my trainer thinks she is either full TB or appendix.

We think this is likely because:

  • bought at an auction in KY
  • tall (about 16hh)
  • nervous/hot disposition
  • has had ulcers
  • small poor hooves
  • very narrow from the front - I always end up buying blankets intended for TBs to get the right fit
  • LOTS of heart - girlie cantered through deep puddles in the rain for her PPE without any hesitation, and despite being hot/nervous in general she’s very brave where it counts
  • thin skin and poor winter coat even after a while here in ME
  • very deep heartgirth, wasp waist (to some degree), big shoulder, long neck, long straight facial profile
  • very fast
  • not an easy keeper
  • has a right medial splint (healed) which to me indicates more strenuous exercise than the ‘western pleasure’ I was told she did - given that and how she reacts to being on the racetrack where I board I don’t think it’s impossible she was trained but just didn’t race (and therefore didn’t get tattooed)

Ultimately we’ll never know for sure, but here are some pics. I know her neck muscling is very upside down, we’re working on it lol.

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Ah to me she looks like a classic Appendix QH which is QH registry after all. The long back short butt short neck is definitely one of the ways these horses can come out. A lot depends on the quality of the parents.

It also explains the mixed personality. My unpapered mare is said to be Paint x Appendix. She got short back plus big butt. She’s very brave but every once in a while she switches from dude string Paint to green x country TBx and can really hullabaloo in hand at liberty and in the saddle. So QH x TB can be a mix of personality.

On your mare I see a steepness or peak to her SI area that suggests looking there for weaknesses. I feel looking at these photos that her SI may be behind her point of hip, which can make horses more susceptible to the ligament tears we call hunters bump. Also her hind legs are on the straight side which can cause issues.

Her neck muscling is very upside down right now, and she is falling on the forehand a bit. That’s I think a bit of a vicious cycle. She doesn’t want to weight her hind end if it’s sore, so she’s dragging around on the front end and making the hind worse


Slightly OT but when looking at conformation, would the “ideal” be SI above the point of hip? Or in front of POH? I like to kill time by studying conformation and I have seen most TBs and crosses (including mine) with the SI well behind the POH.

Above point of hip. Maybe it could get a bit in front, need to look that up again. its one of those things that can vary a lot between individual horses

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Ok, so yesterday the saddler came out and her saddle fits great. She agreed Ginger is definitely in pain and definitely does not want to be saddled. I was under the impression that chiropractic requires multiple visits per week as was standard when I saw a human chiropractor, but apparently the norm is for it to be one or two visits, so I think I may be able to swing that.

I ordered some books on the masterson method and am going to teach myself that. On Monday I’m calling the vet to have her out to look at my girl and possibly perform an adjustment depending on what she recommends.