top of page

Lordosis, Swayback, Low Back, Soft Back?

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

What ever you want to call it it seems to be a thing. Not yet so much in North American but many of the photos I see on social media sites as well as from the winner's circle in prestigious shows in the UK seem to show a pony with a low back. This is disconcerting as this lordosis, perhaps in and of itself may or may not be uncomfortable to the pony, presents real issues in saddle fit. Is this really lordosis in the Section C? Or is it a low back caused by the high croup and hind-legs that are positioned out behind with the pelvis tipped? Either way I think this conformation is a flaw and is wandering far off the path of an athletic well balanced pony for pleasure or sport.

While elderly ponies and broodmares can be excused for a low back young and mid-aged ponies should not. According to an article by Emily Kilby referencing the work done by Dr. Patrick Gallagher, lordosis is hereditary. Dr. Gallagher was conducting studies on lordosis in Saddlebreds which is the breed with the highest level (7%) of lordosis. This study started in 2003. I wonder what percentage of Welsh C ponies will show evidence of lordosis in 2021?

This is a simple measurement discovered by Dr. Gallagher that can be done to see if your pony has lordosis. The high points of the horse's withers and the rump are marked with adhesive tape, and the straight-line distance and the back-surface distance between these two points are measured and compared. The difference between the two lengths serves as the back-contour measure. The abnormality of lordosis started with contours greater than 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches (6.5 to seven cm)

Since lordosis is a recessive gene I wonder how it became prevalent in many Welsh Section C in the UK? Does the extreme high stepping hackney like movement come with the lordosis gene? I'm no geneticist so I'll look forward to what they find out in the Saddlebred lordosis study about the connection.


55 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page