Typically, a horse that is cold backed will be unhappy when the rider first gets one. this could be caused by the contact of the saddle, the tightening of the girth or the weight of the rider. He may show his dislike of one or all of these in one of several ways: tension or panic, arching his back, dropping his back, rearing, bucking, short or tense strides. The most significant sign of being cold backed is that whatever symptom they manifest goes away or lessens after being ridden for a short while. In other words when the horse's back has warmed up, the horse feels happier.
One cause of this could be muscle stiffness. When the horse first starts to work the muscles would be painful and restricting, but during work they will warm and stretch and become less painful and less restricting.
By far the largest cause of horses being cold backed is the saddle. If it doesn't fit properly, it may be uncomfortable or even painful and, naturally, the horse will resent it being on it's back. It will display the symptoms mentioned above. Some horses will continue displaying these symptoms, but others will accept the discomfort and work normally after a short while.
If your horse is cold backed, use The Perfect Fit Saddle Fitting Kit to check if the saddle fits. If it doesn't fit, be sure you get one that does and, using the kit, check its fit at least every month, or more often if there are changes to your horse's diet or exercise. Don't be surprised if he doesn't immediately relax when you get on. The memory of the pain will stay with him for some time. You will have to coax him into feeling relaxed about being ridden so that you can remove the unpleasant memory from his mind.
When you are certain that the saddle fits well, if your horse is still cold backed, it could be that your horse remembers the pain that he was in previously, or, he is still in pain from the damage done by that saddle. If this is the case, you must have his back checked by an equine physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath. In fact, if a horse exhibits any unpleasant behaviour, the first thing to do is have him checked out by one of these professionals.
Sometimes it can take a while for a horse to trust that the saddle isn't hurting him, so be patient with him if he takes a while to become relaxed. Sometimes the upset that the pain has caused him can create an unbalance of the healthy gut flora. This, in itself, is enough to cause your horse to be tense and exhibit undesirable behaviour. This unbalance can last a long time, so it is always worth giving a supplement of probiotics to a difficult horse.
We're raising awareness of the importance of good saddle fitting
From one satisfied customer:
Well I've used the kit on three of our gg's so far and it's just fantastic.
It's very easy to use, with the instructions being very comprehensive. From having saddle fitters out to fit from scratch the process always seemed a bit complicated, but your kit has really demystified a lot of it for me.
Being able to see where the saddle doesn't fit the horse is great and being able to create a history of templates for each horse is going to be very helpful.
So congrats on a great product—would recommend this kit to anyone who has a horse.