Sensitive Withers???

Discussion in 'Horse Management' started by blitzen, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. blitzen

    blitzen Gold Member

    Hi People,

    So my sensitive redhead revealed to me that something is up with his withers.
    For the past few weeks he's been *ouchy* with the saddle - i was figuring he was getting pinched & needs a gullet change on my wintec as he has beefed up quite a bit since i bought him (and it was fitted then). However, last week i went to ride in my friends London Barefoot and he had a very similar "owchy" response.
    He has had a tight shoulder as well but has had some deep tissue massage, plus my bowen lady didn't detect any real saddle 'pain' on him. :confused:

    anyway, as i've been busy with work & stuff i've just sort of pottered around doing ground work and bareback riding & haven't had a chance to change the gullet on my saddle.

    yesterday, i got on him bareback and noticed he is VERY sensitive on his withers. TWITCHING like crazy, at the lightest touch - you know how horses twitch for flies? like that, but real full on twitching. *#)

    had a small thought that he may have broken his wither... but nothing feels 'broken' (not that i'd know what to feel for if it were broken). besides, it looks okay and aren't broken withers meant to be all squashed looking?
    he was even turning around to glare at me & would move forward or backward to escape the irritation.
    i spent some time just massaging it and rubbing it and brushing it. i asked my agistment guy to have a look and he just reckons he's being sensitive...

    but i know my horse and i haven't had him do that before! i really don't think it's muscle pain either because either side of the wither bone bit, my horse is fine. there's no 'pain' response anywhere along his spine or on his neck. he just seems to have this violent reaction on his wither, along his mane.

    his mane (saddle path) on the wither is unusually grey so i thought maybe he was getting irritated by his rug - maybe cutting off circulation or something (you know how horses can get white spots from badly fitting tack?). he's been wearing his brother's fly rug as his own is wrecked. They are the same size rugs.

    could also be bugs/lice but i had a good look and didn't notice anything. I've left him naked (which i don't like doing considering the flies in wanneroo), but if it is from a badly fitting rug, obviously don't want to aggravate it. :eek:

    any experience with something like this???
  2. retroremedy

    retroremedy Well-known Member

    Hi Blitzen
    I think you have a combination of ill fitting saddle and muscle pain caused by riding bareback....dont worry I have been there and done that too.
    Dont mess around, get a saddle fitter out and get them to have a good honest look at your saddle. Years ago I had a Wintec Isabel back in the days when I thought because you could change the gullet it would fit every should have seen the difference in the whole horse from physical to mental improvement once I sold it and got a saddle that fitted correctly professionally. I even put together video footage from before and after and it is pretty I cant urge you enough to get someone out to be very honest about your current saddle.
    The sorest horse I have ever touched around the wither area was a pony I knew well that was normally never sore that had just returned from a fun day at the beach been ridden bareback by its owner....bareback is great fun and ok for short periods of time only.
    So my advice would be get a professional saddle fitter to evaluate your saddle and leave the bareback for a while.
    cheers, RR
  3. blitzen

    blitzen Gold Member

    thanks rr.

    i do intend to have charity out to fit my saddle again. i don't really do that much bareback riding - 1ce a week for about 10-15mins for the past 3 weeks - not that much in the scheme of things?

    thing is, it definitely does not seem like muscle pain, he doesn't shrink away from it like i've seen horses do who HAVE back pain.
    it's more an irritation of some sort - he twitches as if i were a fly, if i lay my hand lightly on his wither and even worse if i rub the saddle path, especially against the 'grain'. if i put a FIRM hand on it there is much less twitching... i should have clarified that in the Original Post.

    anywayz, i will def be getting a visit from the saddle fitter. a friend of mine suggested calcification on the spine, which sounds interesting. i think a visit from the vet is needed at any rate.
  4. Jumping Bean

    Jumping Bean Well-known Member

    Any swelling or sores, as in fistulous withers? Sometimes pain can be referred from another area, he may have injured his back or shoulders or somewhere else, and the pain is being felt in the wither area. It mightn't hurt to have your vet look at him before you ride him again, just to be on the safe side. :)
  5. retroremedy

    retroremedy Well-known Member

    Thats a good idea but and I dont mean to be going on...but

    Twitching = pain/discomfort/irritation - it just means he is sore in that area nothing more, nothingless....he probably has a bruised wither or really ANY kind of inflammation, twitching certainly doesnt mean it is bone and 99-100 times it will be muscular or tissue damage.

    White hairs = sign of chronic "bad" pressure being applied...considering where the site is it is 99-100 times due to the saddle.

    It also may have been 10-15 minutes of bareback but it doesnt mean injury or damage couldnt have happened in that acute injury can happen in a doesnt have to be chronic damage to cause pain.

    Best of luck, you will get him sorted! :)
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2007
  6. Jadels

    Jadels New Member

    I slightly disagree with the white hairs on whithers.. i have seen them more frequently from rugs then saddles...
    But white hairs under the saddle but not along the spine is more a saddle problem 99-100% of the time ;)

    But all the rest i believe to be true, except with my mare she does it as she thinks she is going to be in pain, not that she really is in pain.

    She has been in pain before from her sarcoids on her back, and if u touch her near the location she twitches and backs up etc and same on her whither. I am certain its now a 'i think there is going to be pain' reaction rather then there is pain!
  7. retroremedy

    retroremedy Well-known Member

    Bit of a questionable call saying you can predict whether or not your horse is truly in pain or not!??
    White hairs is a result of pressure a saddle and a rug, one creates pressure hence white hairs, one is more friction which more likely results in hair loss.
  8. cobbie

    cobbie Gold Member

    I don't get how a rug could cause white hairs? Your rug couldn't possibly be that tight that it could cause the same pressure a saddle does? I would say its from saddle, get it checked out by a bowen or a chiro or even vet and also get the saddle fitted.
  9. blitzen

    blitzen Gold Member

    tarz, i've seen them caused by rugs too - i had an ill fitting combat canvas rug one year. initially caused hair loss that grew back in white. needless to say that rug was ditched & there hasn't been a repeat with that horse. if the neck part is too big and the rug slips back and sits directly on the withers rather than in front of it, or if it just sits funny and slides behind the withers - there's a whole variety of fitting issues that can cause rubs & pressure marks on the horse's withers from rugs.

    however the grey in my horse's mane is nothing like that. it's *going grey* and not just a white patch. upon investigation today, he's also got an unusual amt of grey in his bridle path, and many grey strands (like, too many to count) all along the rest of his mane. He also has quite a lot of bend'or patching/smutting all over and several large patches of white hairs that he's had since i bought him. he's had regular bowen & deep tissue massage and his saddle was initially fitted & balanced when i first bought him. i have seen white patches caused from ill fitting tack/rugs and this looks different (as in, it's JUST in the mane, not his fur) to that.

    that said, i recognise that his saddle was giving him an issue; it was tight around mid barrell/ribs so i TOTALLY GET that he needs his saddle refitted.
    however, last time i rode with that saddle was 6 weeks ago. since then, he's given me pain signs from it 2 times, (when we do ground work b4 riding), and he was ridden once in the barefoot saddle about 3 weeks ago.

    since then, the bareback... so no more bareback either, until he can be seen by our bowen lady... and at the moment he's going clothesless too, just in case it is a rug issue.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2007
  10. I believe white hairs are a result of the hair folicules being killed off (so I've been told) by pressure, injury (scars) and a lot of friction. Rugs can cause it if its HIGH on the wither because they rub like anything as the horse moves.

    I would suggest calling a horse CHIRO (not bowen) as it is probably skeletal and not muscular. I can recommend a really good one who is a Equine Vet too and went and did a post grad course to be a Chiro. PM me for the number :)

    Also perhaps get a satin bib that fits? That might reduce the rug rubbing so much.
  11. Cyclone

    Cyclone Active Member

    Hi Blitzen, my little pony was exactly the same as how you are describing how your horse is very sensitive on top of his withers to touch and if you applied a little bit of pressure would react if it really hurt by going backwards or forwards to get away from the pain well anyway I had Laura Bird out to him to do some bowen on him as he is a fairly new pony and he was very sore in the withers and every where else poor guy from years of poorly fitting saddles from the riding school that I bought him from but anyway since Laura has done bowen on him he is not sensitive in the withers anymore but I have got her coming back out again very soon because he was soo bad, I too have also had the saddle fitter out, so it does sound just like my guy and as Retroremedy has said, so it may be worth doing all the correct things by your guy before he gets in too much pain and possibly hurts you.
    regards Cyclone
  12. I would also suggest always mounting by mounting block. Soooooooo many sore backs and withers are caused by a person's weight pulling on the saddle as the person is mounting up. My lad is 17hh so I ALWAYS use a mounting block to avoid this. (btw I can get on without LOL as proved the other day when I dismounted to move a blue tongue then got on again out on the trail)
  13. Seahorse

    Seahorse Well-known Member

    Another vote for getting a chiro or vet... I got my horse back off lease, and he was very obviously sore, despite having been recently seen to by a bowen therapist organised by the lessee. I got a qualified chiro to see him, and that helped a lot.
    Getting your saddle fitted might help, but I had a very high-withered TB whom I got a saddle professionally fitted to twice, and both times the fitter's recommended arrangement continued to cause him pain.
    If they are in pain around their back, or their muscles are spasming, very often they don't flinch away from your touch either...
  14. blitzen

    blitzen Gold Member

    hey cyclone, Laura is my bowen lady. she's been seeing him once a month since july. she is so awesome - i bow down before her, lol.
    definitely need to have her out again - ironically, we were at the stage where she said she didn't need to see him so regularly, so i haven't had her out in november yet...

    Merrylegs, i ALWAYS mount from a mounting block... haha, i'm short, he's tall, i'm not especially athletic. if totally strapped i have been known to mount from the ground, but i don't think i've ever done it with my new guy?

    Seahorse, could you PM me your chiro's number please? i've been a bit leery of ppl getting chiropractic because i firmly believe it MUST be combined with massage, so i tend to stick with just massage, but if you've got a chiro you recommend, id love to see what they do.

    thanks everyone, for your help!~

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