Painting exercise helps identify back problems

A common condition of the horse is back pain and this can be present with a number of different signs, from discomfort on saddling and mounting to poor performance issues, such as unwillingness to move forward, bucking and jumping problems.

There are a number of different conditions that can cause back pain and the underlying cause may not be in the back.

Last week we were very lucky to host a practical seminar on ‘Understanding Your Horses Back’ with Horses Inside Out.

The day was organised in combination with Colin Mitchell from ScottMitchell Associates, Hexham.

Both practices are members of XLEquine.

Founded by Gillian Higgins, human and equine sports and remedial therapist, Horses Inside Out is an organisation which gives a fascinating insight into equine locomotion from an anatomical perspective.

With the aid of some bones and a well behaved RDA pony, Tosca, Gillian talked about the main features of the skeleton and how it works, before painting it onto Tosca, section by section.

The delegates then went to their pony and tried to replicate the painting, before watching Gillian do the next section.

A vital part of making the painting accurate was careful palpation of the bones under the skin.

Anatomical painting is a unique, fun and informative way to learn about your horse’s skeleton, and this practical workshop focused on the structure and function of the skeleton.

By painting the horses, it makes it much easier to understand limb confirmation and movement, and also gain a different anatomical perspective.

After everybody had completed their paintings the horses were paraded around the indoor school to give an insight into how the skeletons move during walk, trot and canter.

There was also a competition for the best painted skeleton.

After lunch, Colin and I gave a seminar on the common conditions that affect the back, neck and pelvis on a horse and how to recognise the signs and treatment options available.

The seminar proved very popular and the recurring theme was how important building and maintaining muscle and core strength is, both for preventing back problems, as well as for horses recovering from treatment or surgery.

The live painting was a real hit and it was amazing how competitive it became for the best painting. Even the horses enjoyed all the attention.

The aim of the course was to help everyone understand more about skeletal anatomy, which will enable them to ride, train and manage their horse for optimum health and wellbeing.

As a forward thinking practice we are always looking for new and exciting ways to enhance our client experience, and seminars and practical workshops are no exception.

Thank you to the Pegasus Centre, home to the Morpeth Riding for the Disabled, for allowing us to use their facilities, which were certainly needed with the torrential rain outside.