Date of Graduation

Fall 2017


Master of Natural and Applied Science in Agriculture


College of Agriculture

Committee Chair

Gary Webb


horses, algometry, weight carried, back pain, horse shows

Subject Categories

Animal Sciences | Exercise Science


The objective of this study was to determine the effects of weight carried (rider + tack) on back pain in horses used in riding classes and a series of intercollegiate horse shows. Sixteen school horses (431-649 kg) were ridden consistently over a semester. Cross sectional images were used to measure width and put in a mapping program to figure total area. Back pain scores were determined using a pressure algometer on predetermined points over the horses back. Pain scores were recorded over five periods, including 28 d into the semester (P1) and during the show period on three consecutive Fridays from October 30-November 13 (P2-P4). The second and third period (P2-P3) measurements were followed by two days of shows, and (P4) measurements were taken five days after the last show. As a result, horses were tested the Friday before each show. Final pain scores were taken 21 d (P5) after the last show. Percent horse weight carried averaged 16% (range 10-27%). Pain was lowest in P1 and highest in P4 (P2), loin width 5cm, and P1 had a negative relationship on back pain scores. Wither width 10cm ventrally from the medial line increased back pain scores. Research with a wider range of weight carried and alternative measurements may elucidate factors contributing to equine back pain.


© Meghan Louise Mothershead

Open Access