Pain in Horses is very common

How often do you consider your horse may be in pain? Once a day, once a week, once a month, once a year? If you have answered yes to any of these, then you are obviously aware of some pain associated problems. How many problems can be related to pain? Horses are like humans when it comes to pain and pain thresholds, some cope with pain quite well, others simply can not cope at all. For advice on natural pain management and pain related conditions such as Arthritis please contact us on or phone 1300HIFORM for free advice

Pain can definitely create situations that can escalate and make the problem worse. When we consider that horses are creatures of flight, often the only escape route is forward, fast or upwards, fast. Horses are really not designed for the job we have intended for them, they have a rigid spine, not flexible like a dog, and they have a long neck and a heavy head. We then ad the saddle, bridle and rider and ask our horses to perform, what are in many cases unnatural tasks. It is generally the generous nature of the horse that allows us to do this. I don’t believe there are very many bad horses, I think that horses who display bad behaviour do this as a way of saying no, I can not do this because I am in pain.

We must think about the logical reasons why horses may react in a certain way, for example when you first mount your horse and he/she goes to move off, this is annoying granted, but why does a horse do this? Sometimes it may be that your horse is a little naughty, but have you considered your horse associates being mounted with pain. We often do not give credit to the intelligence of horses and certainly some may be smarter than others, horses often do remember associations and this is not surprising. Horses are creatures of habit so therefore whist we generally train by repeating exercises so the horse will learn, they can also learn bad habits which have been caused by the repetition of pain!

Feeling the changes in the way your horse responds to the go forward leg aid.

If a horse has been broken in correctly then the forward aid should always work. Some horses react to pain by balking, rearing or bucking, or in a milder case not going forward in the trot for example or the rider has the feeling of sucking back. When your body, mind and legs are asking for forward, the horse should automatically respond.

Pain can then cause, behavioural problems, loss of performance, nervousness, a tense horse creates further pain and this maybe disaster.

How many of you reading this article have NEVER experienced pain? I can guarantee no one has gone through life without pain of some description, whether minor or major. For us to think that horses somehow are immune to pain is down right ridiculous.

So what can we do to prevent problems from occurring that may cause pain?

Staying off the Pain Merry Go Round

We already know that un-diagnosed pain can cause problems, what do we do if we are in pain the day after a hard workout at the gym? Generally we may consider walking it out, or performing gentle exercises to keep the body moving, perhaps a massage, but the most important thing is to manage the pain.

We are likely to take something to ease the discomfort, preferably something natural like NRGY Sports Relief, but very often we reach for the quick fix, a pain relieving drug.

We must learn to read our horses far more efficiently if we are going to prevent pain issues. There are many ways to put preventive measures in place.

Horses aged between the age of 2 and 6, (still maturing) and horses aged over 12 are more likely to experience pain at a higher level. As horses age, there is a higher risk of injury and pain related conditions, these can include degenerative joint disease, hamstring injuries etc. For young horses, the conditions tend to vary somewhat, for example as the young horses training increases so does the risk of pain caused by the horse being asked to use different muscles. Tight hamstrings, sore backs and general soreness are very common in young horses. Managing these pain related issues is absolutely essential to avoid other problems. I believe every horse should be given assistance to prevent and manage pain. This can be achieved by regular massage, Bowen, acupuncture, equine tension relief, and natural products such as ProflamAid and EquiGesic.

When I am at an event I always watch the horses, there is so much you can learn from their body language which can be very strong or very subtle. Many horses at dressage competitions appear to have soreness issues ranging from mild to chronic and as mentioned earlier in the article, some horses can manage pain better than others. Just remind yourself that pain is common and it should be treated seriously, take the pain away no matter how mild and see for yourself how much improvement you have.

For free advice on managing pain, treating pain or locating and accessing pain please contact us on 1300443676 or email