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The Difference Between Causes and Symptoms

Why evaluations are necessary

When evaluating a horse we evaluate the whole horse. What does this mean? And, why do we take the time to evaluate everything?


We take the time to evaluate everything because we want to separate the causes from the symptoms. We want to know what is causing what and why. If we were to only treat symptoms we would only have temporary improvements in the horse’s condition and temporary pain relief, because the causes would not have been addressed, causing the symptoms to return.


In the evaluation:


  • Teeth are evaluated for TMJ pain/ ramps/ points/ ulcers/sores/waves

  • Muscles are evaluated for spasms/tensions/pain/discomfort/ inflammation/injury

  • Tendons are evaluated for scar tissue/inflammation/ pain/discomfort

  • Ligaments are evaluated for scar tissue/ discomfort/inflammation/ pain/ injury

  • Joints are evaluated for loss of mobility/ pain/discomfort/ inflammation/ injury

  • Movement is evaluated to detect irregularities/lack of straightness/lameness

  • Equipment is evaluated for proper fit/suitability/condition

  • Nutrition is evaluated for the horses overall condition/ mental state/ energy level/ hoof conditions/ joint conditions/ ulcers/ digestive discomfort/ muscle mass

  • Etc.




Please note that these examples are simplified for easier understanding and lack detail.


A cold backed horse

If we were to only treat the back pain, the horse would find temporary relief, approximately 2 weeks at most. If we were to evaluate the entire horse we would risk to discover that perhaps the saddle does not fit, the rider neglects the use of the mounting block, the rider has not properly mastered the trot, the rider has rough hands sending the horses head up which hollows and weakens the back, the bit is too severe causing the horse to hollow it’s back, the horse has pain due to it’s teeth once again causing the head to lift and the back to hollow and weaken, etc… Now imagine we addressed the causes, and then treated the symptoms. The horse would now find permanent relief.



A horse with digestive pain

This horse reacts negatively to the riders leg aids, bucks, bolts, and kicks out. This horse is sore throughout the back and the hindquarters. If we were to only treat these areas, the horse would find temporary relief in only some of the painful areas. It may go a little better under saddle for 1 week. If were to evaluate the horse’s diet and determine the issues, make the necessary changes, and treat the symptoms then the horse would now find permanent relief.



A head tossing horse

This horse swings it’s head up and down, holds it’s head too high, is not responsive the riders hands, does not collect. This horse is sore in the jaw, TMJ, and neck all the way to the pectoral muscles. If we were to only treat these areas, the horse would only find temporary relief. If we took the time to evaluate the situation we could discover that this horse is in need of dental assistance and a change of bit. If we address the causes, then treat the symptoms, this horse would find permanent relief.



When we address the causes, and solve them, then treat the symptoms we obtain permanent results.

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