I went to look at a potential horse with a friend last week with a view to buy.
He was an ex eventer in his teens and I was impressed with how clean his limbs were. However, my main concern was that he was significantly roach-backed.
My friend hadn`t heard of a roach back before, and I said that it may not affect him in terms of the work she would do with him, but she should research the conformation fault and try to get a history of his back before buying him, should she want to, of course!
A roach backed horse is one with a very straight spine, or with one that bows upwards, as shown below.
A roach back is usually more of an unsightly fault, rather than one which affects the horses way of going. The spine of a horse with a roach back is less flexible than those with a normal curvature, so they may be limited in their jumping ability or how easily they can engage their hindquarters.
Whilst a roach back can be caused by a trauma to the spine, it also has been found to be hereditary. If the defect has been caused by a trauma, it could be related to calcification of the spine and in this case there will be pain and hind limb lameness.
As this horse we saw had had a successful career at low level eventing I don`t think his roach back would have interfered with the light workload of hacking and schooling my friend had intended for him, but it would have meant that she would need to be very careful with his saddle fit and have his back checked regularly to ensure that the upward curve didn`t cause any problems as he got older.
Unfortunately he had a second viewing by some other people a couple of days later and he was subsequently unavailable for my friend. Fingers crossed the next one we see is The One!