I'm not sure I can offer any solutions, but I have had the same problem (so
will be very interested in any other input too) with my horse this year.
Basically he had never had a back or saddle problem, and I'd ridden him in a
few different saddles. Last year I was riding in a wintec (with a sheepskin
saddle blanket and a gel pad), which he didn't seem to have any problem
with. He did one 90km (~55mile) ride in it, vetted out lame, nothing to do
with the saddle, then got a long rest. I brought him back to work in that
saddle, lots of LSD, then successfully completed a 80km (50mile) ride in it.
Back was fine. Took him to another 80km ride two weeks later, completed
fine, not a sign of back soreness. But 24 hours later he was horribly
swollen. And tender. It took a long time to heal, and every time I rode
after that it would swell again (ride could mean as little as a 1/2 hour
quiet hack around the block, mostly walking) . Bareback was okay. So I
decided it was the saddle. Borrowed a dressage saddle to try it out. Was
okay for a while, no swelling. Thought I'd found the problem. Had a long
dressage lesson one day, next day, swollen back again. And every time after
that, if I rode in that saddle, he'd swell. Gave it back. Bought a military.
Which has been really good. We've done lots of miles in training, and one
40km (25mile) ride in it okay. Until he got a scratch on his back (rolled on
something in the paddock I guess). If I rode in the saddle it'd swell around
the scratch site. Took forever to heal. Was still okay bareback. Finally
healed, but any time he has the slightest, and I mean slightest mark on him,
or on the saddle blanket, he'll swell in that area. So I keep the
saddleblanket scrupulously clean, I keep a light rug on him to avoid cuts
and scratches, and I usually wash down his back with Penetrene or something
after I ride. I suspect even so, my time in this saddle is limited, and I'll
need to try something yet another one. He just seems to have developed a
hypersensitivity in the back area, and all I am doing now is trying to avoid
triggering the response. I'd love to work out a way of reducing his
sensitivity (he wasn't always like this), but so far nothing has worked.
In your friend's case, definately rest the mare before riding her again. Let
it totally heal or it'll just take longer, or get worse. Try riding in
different saddles for a while. Try different saddle blankets. Find out what
triggers her response, and you'll start to be able to avoid it. Other than
that - I'm open to suggestions too!
Nik & the Gang (Taaj, Saki & Dippa) in Australia
>A friend of mine's mare has a swollen back and I need your input.
>Has anyone ever had this happen? Did she over ride her? Could it be soap
>residue? How long does it take for a back to heal? When do you think she
>can go back to work?