1. Have your saddle fit checked by a qualified saddle fitter every year at the very least, more often if your horse has a tendency to change shape. Poor saddle fit is one of the main causes of back pain. Imagine wearing an ill-fitting pair of shoes and then being asked to dance well in them - we can't say for sure but our best guess is that being ridden in an ill-fitting saddle could feel similarly painful.
2. Feel your horse's back regularly for any pain or tension, but also have a Chartered Physiotherapist check your horse's back periodically. They have spent several years qualifying to practise their profession, so they are likely to be more accurate in their assessment than someone less experienced. Personally I recommend every 3 months for a horse that is ridden 5 or 6 times a week, or every month for a horse that is being asked to compete at a high level.
3. Massage your horse's back yourself, once a week or once a month if you have the time. You will get to know what is normal for him, and to recognise when things are starting to go wrong, at the same time as improving his comfort and performance. Massage is easy to learn (get your copy of the Horse Massage for Horse Owners book and DVD here), enjoyable to practice, and best of all, your horse will love it!
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Find out more about learning how to massage your own horse, either by joining Sue on a course or by getting your copy of Horse Massage for Horse Owners book or DVD at