Cold-backed horse is a quaint term for a horse with a sensitive back, or who’s sensitive to the girth. A horse with this condition may also be called “cinchy” or “girthy”. Cute terms, but what does it all mean?
A cold-backed horse is one that has a negative reaction to being saddled or mounted. Usually, the reaction is immediate and after a short time, the animal gets used to the sensation and is fine to ride.
As always, different horses react differently. The horse’s response can vary from mild to dramatic. A mild reaction might be collapsing his back and shrinking away from the saddle after being cinched up. More dramatic reactions could be trotting or cantering off immediately upon being mounted, perhaps with a well-timed buck or two thrown in for good measure.
The descriptions of extreme reactions range from hilarious to horrifying. One person described a horse that “humps all up, pig-roots and kicks like a trooper.” Another said her horse collapsed onto the ground and dented a car! The horse was fine, but we can’t say as much for the car.
Much of the available research and opinion indicate that this cold-backed horse condition is a behavior and not an injury. We’re not so sure. Horse trainer Doris Eraldi says, “It’s very likely the horse is reacting to pain or the memory of pain. This is usually the case if the horse tries to lie down when girthed up or mounted, or those who pull back wildly.” Check out our library for more detailed information on cold-backed horses. [Read More…]