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Swayback Horse

Updated on November 25, 2017

The Condition

Most horses are now employed in sport or leisure activities rather than strenuous labor, so it has become rather rare to see an advanced case of "sway back"

Swayback occurs with animals that have been ridden a lot, carried heavily loads or from multiple pregnancies. It is more likely to develop in horses with a long back and high head carriage and may be exacerbated by diseases like Cushings. Advanced cases are typically quite elderly animals.

Also known as: hollow back, lordosis, lowback, saddle back, soft back.

An unmarked picture showing a man in uniform holding the tail of a grazing horse. I would estimate this picture to date from the 1930s. Can anyone identify the uniform?
An unmarked picture showing a man in uniform holding the tail of a grazing horse. I would estimate this picture to date from the 1930s. Can anyone identify the uniform? | Source

American Saddlebred

Saddlebred horses seem to be more prone to lordosis. Around 7% of American Saddlebreds will exhibit swayback, compared to around 1% in other breeds. They also tend to show this condition at an earlier age. The particular gene or genes responsible for this condition in Saddlebreds have not been identified.

Source

Essentially the soft tissues have stretched and relaxed allowing a spinal deformity that can look quite alarming. however in most cases the animal is functioning quite normally and not in distress. Swayback in young horses is more likely to reflect poor breeding, overly severe use or over-training.

Congenital Lordosis

In a small number of cases foals are born already exhibiting swayback. These cases are consider likely to have a genetic cause, possibly via a recessive trait. As such they are more likely to occur pedigree lines with a high degree of inbreeding.

Examples have been described in the Halflinger and quarter horse.

Secondary Lordosis

Swayback may also occur as a consequence of another disease process, such as the lung disease silicosis.

Use of Saddle Pads

If a swaybacked horse is still suitable for riding a good saddle fit should be assured by using a saddle pad.

Other Examples:

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    • psycheskinner profile imageAUTHOR

      psycheskinner 

      5 years ago

      There seems to be a real art to fitting a saddle to a dipped back. I don't know if any particular product that is recommended. Perhaps try the dailyequine forums?

    • profile image

      Tere 

      5 years ago

      My 22yo Twh maiden mare is beginning to get a dipped back . I'm looking for best combo of saddle and blanket to keep her comfortable and still gaining . I use a contour blanket ad an endurance saddle by National bide . Any ideas . I am getting a bridging . Just tried Cashels swayback pad . With my saddle it made her sore . Too thick . Not enough count our .

    • profile image

      Moo 

      5 years ago

      I have a horse that is very sway back. I've had him for nearly 10 years and was like it when I got him as a 6 year old, but he has a massive jump and great paces and been very successful competing at international eventing!

    • psycheskinner profile imageAUTHOR

      psycheskinner 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for asking :)

    • profile image

      SD 

      6 years ago

      My dad said the uniform is Army but can't say beyond that

    • Becky Bruce profile image

      Becky Bruce 

      6 years ago from San Diego, CA

      Interesting. One of my older horses has developed a very slight sway back with age, he also has a very long back.

    • Momstalk profile image

      Momstalk 

      6 years ago from Rock springs Wy

      Interesting. It looks like they'd be in pain.

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