Roach back, officially called kyphosis, is a musculoskeletal issue that is sometimes found in horses. The exact cause of kyphosis is not known. According to Equine News, however, some researchers believe that the condition can be attributed to improper positioning of the fetus before birth.
Although certain horse breeds are more prone to back problems, roach back does not appear to affect any specific breed more than another. In fact, kyphosis is less common in horses than other issues, such as swayback.
Kyphosis generally presents itself in young horses that have a rapid growth rate. The condition is most often seen between weaning and about 9 months of age and is caused by the lumbar vertebrae being taller than normal. When this happens, the horse develops a humped back. While other back problems can develop in horses as a result of improper care or riding, kyphosis is generally not one of them.
While equine chiropractors can attempt to treat roach back, the condition is not always curable. A qualified equine veterinarian can make a diagnosis and suggest remedies for the horse, including chiropractic treatment and a proper exercise regime. However, not all instances of roach back are actually a genetic condition. Sometimes horses roach their own backs in an attempt to relieve pain.