top of page

From Minor Naughtiness to Major Diagnosis

This case study represents the importance of owners critically evaluating their horse's behaviour and underlines the crucial need for practitioners to work togerther as a team. Horses are masters in hiding pain away, which may make it more challenging to spot discomfort in early stages. Changes in behaviour may often be overlooked or be regarded as naughtiness, however, in most cases, these arise from pain and discomfort.

In this case, a 6 years old mare was referred for a routine physiotherapy check up with no obvious lameness or medical issues, she was 'only' more difficult ridden and showed some mild behaviour issues when ridden or saddled.

On assessment, the most significant findings amongst all were limited neck ROM, especially to the left; high tone and hypersensitivity in Rectus Capitals Dorsalis Minor; trigger points along the cervical vertebrae, mostly between C4-C6 with almost tick-like reactions and pain face; and further muscle spasming at the level of withers and caudally. The mare presented uneveness during dynamic assessment. Especially prominent was very low flight arch in front, pelvic deviation to the right and walk on three tracks.

After assessment, the mare was referred to a vet for further investigation.

Using radiography, the vet discovered a deformity of the first cervical vertebrae, together with suspected old fracture of C6 and disk degeneration at C6-C7. The mare was deemed unsuitable to be riden for safety of the rider and to prevent worsening of the condition.

The message of this case study is that behaviour in many cases indicative of pain or discomfort. It is always better to check on minor issues than miss a major one!


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page