We’re all pretty familiar with the image of a swaybacked horse. You know, the one with a few years on her that’s been retired out in the pasture with a sunken back and pendulous abdomen swaying as she walks, back dipping low below her withers.
The equine medical term, lordosis, is not only an affliction of the older horse and most can live productive, active lives with many continuing to be ridden and otherwise living normal life spans. The most commonly seen type of swayback is observed in older horses, often retired broodmares or horses ridden extensively for most of their lives. While these horses may have a downward deviation of the spine their condition may or may not be the result of a genetic defect or true spinal deviation. Often the condition is the result of normal aging when the horse’s body begins to weaken. It is this wasting of the muscles holding up the abdomen and supporting the topline that causes the sinking appearance, leading to the commonly seen swaybacked appearance.
But this is not really a veterinary post. On my errands yesterday Paint here was such a graphic pop against her snow-covered pasture that I stopped and took her picture. She was curious and sweet and happily complied with my requests for a few poses.
Photos by Joel Woodard