What does cold backed mean?

Is your horse cold backed? Intelligent Horsemanship Associate Rosie Jones is here to explain why and what it means. 

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Q: My horse has become cold backed recently, could this be because he's put on weight over the winter and his saddle is causing him discomfort?

A: Cold backed is generally a term that refers to horses who show some signs of discomfort, either when saddled up or when first mounted.

The term can encompass a range of responses from a subtle change in gait until the horse is warmed up, to outright broncing or evening lying down during tacking up during mounting. 

With any of these behaviours, the first point of call is definitely to rule out the physical problems such as sore backs, sore girth areas or an ill-fitting saddle.

This is especially the case if he wasn't cold backed before and no incident has occurred that could have caused a fear or a worry.

A good idea would be to have a thorough back and body check with a registered physio and to get the saddle checked as well as to speak with your vet about possibly trying a bute test to see if the behaviour disappears with pain relief. 

Some young horses can show cold-backed symptoms if ridden very sporadically and these issues tend to disappear if they're ridden more regulary. 

The good news is, if there's some residual behavioral issues once he is more comfortable, they are easily resolved.

It's difficult to give advice on this aspect without knowing more, but, for instance, girthing and ungirthing several times before riding can help to overcome any problematic patterns he may have formed in his behaviour.

Try your local recommended associate at Intelligent Horsemanship website to get hands on help.