PDA

View Full Version : Where do I go from here? Crossfiring



paintmare
Mar. 29, 2011, 10:53 PM
My Thoroughbred mare has crossfired the entire time I've owned her (5 years). Never bothered me until this past year, because I want to event her :lol: She only crossfires in the ring, not out on the trails or loose in the pasture. I tried doing lots of walk - trot strengthening last fall in the ring and on the trails, gradually introduced cantering on the long side of the ring, but once we try going around the whole ring, she starts crossfiring. She's worse to the right.

I had my vet out and she did flexion tests. Mare trots off totally sound. Vet said she'll x-ray her, but first wanted to inject her hocks with steriod to see if it did anything. Vet did her hocks and told me to wait a few days. So I rode mare today and all she wanted to do was canter, completely not like her. Spent a good portion of the ride cantering. She crossfired a few times for a stride or two, but would change back to the correct lead in the hind - she usually breaks to a trot so to me this what quite the breakthrough. She kept wanting to go so I kind of "packaged" her to get her off the forehand and used outside rein, she made it around the 100 x 200 ring TWICE in each direction without crossfiring. Huge deal.

So where do I go from here? I'm thinking the injection helped and there must obviously be something wrong with her hock(s). I'm not sure if she should NOT crossfire since she's been doing it for so long, it's like she was surprised and excited to be cantering properly. When she does crossfire should I stop her? Since she's almost always broke into a trot when she crossfired, I would bring her to a walk and start again.

She's still doing walk - trot work, 20 meter circles, serpentines, figure eights, cavaletti poles. So she should be building muscle. Should I stop cantering her or what?

Thanks for any advice in advance.

paintmare
Mar. 30, 2011, 09:46 AM
65 views and no one has advice? :(

scubed
Mar. 30, 2011, 10:20 AM
I would get a diagnosis first. Look at some x-rays and see what the hocks look like. The fact that injection helped points to physical issues. Check with your farrier and vet about shoeing also. It can make a difference in supporting the hock with issues. Hill work if you can, but I don't think it is possible to have a sensible answer without some knowledge of what is going on in there.

retreadeventer
Mar. 30, 2011, 10:51 AM
A little help with your language, if I may. :)

First of all, crossfiring is an interference description having to do with trotting. It is when the right hind comes up in the stroke, and comes down on the left front heel. (And vice versa). This happens mostly at speed, or while extending the trot. This is just an interference problem that can usually be fixed with shoeing in horses that are not racing at speed, or can point to a problem with the front leg, usually knee or ankle; because the horse isn't getting the front foot out of the way of the pushing-off back foot in time -- because it's painful to bend the leg and snap it up (articulate the joint). If you were watching a horse crossfiring from directly behind them, you'd see a hind leg making a big round outside circle and coming in when it hit the ground, like the "wax-on, wax-off" motion".

(As an aside, crossfiring sometimes is referred to as forging - this is when the right hind hits the right front [same side] at the bottom of the stroke. This is much more common in riding horses who are not ridden at speed, and happens at the trot most of the time. Horses that are long-legged and short backed are prone to it. I know. I have one.)

In your description I think you are talking about what I would term a disunited canter. Where she is cross LEADING behind, while staying on the correct lead in front.

Cross-leading, or being dis-united while cantering, is very much an indication of something not quite right behind. Scubed is completely correct in asking for a more complete and educated diagnosis -- especially since the hock injection made such a difference. Cross-lead canters to me are fairly serious, because they indicate anything from chronic arthritis all the way up to neurological impairment. A horse without a sound and balanced gallop is a horse that is fairly physically compromised especially in this sport, which requires a balanced gallop for the majority of its tests (i.e., cross country jumping, stadium jumping, etc.)

If a disunited canter continues for some time, the joints will tend to sore up. If you see some immediate relief after hock injection, but then a gradual return to the problem, it's likely to be higher up in the hindquarter somewhere.
I have had a horse with old broken pelvis, never diagnosed, do this until we found what it was, and we too went thru the hock injections, etc. without a complete resolution of the problem until we threw him on a table and exrayed his hindquarters. Yep, expensive....but you have to know.

GotSpots
Mar. 30, 2011, 10:56 AM
I commonly hear folks refer to a disunited canter (right lead in front, left lead behind) as "crossfiring". I don't think I've heard it used to refer to forging at the trot. I've also never heard of the term "crossleading" that retread seems to think is common. To each her own.

Regardless, horses I've known who consistently canter with the front end on one lead and the back end on another tended to have issues with either their hocks or in their pelvis or back. I'd keep consulting with your vet if she continues to do it post-injecting. Additionally, to the extent there's a training issue there, I'd stop the canter, and correct it from the trot every time she crossfires.

asterix
Mar. 30, 2011, 11:22 AM
Agree with GotSpots -- I did know what you meant, too.

Definitely physical, and quite possibly not fixed but just mitigated by the hock injections. See if she continues to improve; if not, you should get a methodical workup with imaging to figure out exactly what the problem is.

I, too, would ask her to trot, rebalance, and ask for a correct canter if the problem occurs.

I would sort this issue out completely before introducing new types of work and eventing.

wanderlust
Mar. 30, 2011, 11:27 AM
I commonly hear folks refer to a disunited canter (right lead in front, left lead behind) as "crossfiring". I don't think I've heard it used to refer to forging at the trot. I've also never heard of the term "crossleading" that retread seems to think is common. To each her own. Yeah, same. Most commonly, you hear it referred to as "cross-cantering", but have never heard either retread's explanation of cross-firing or the term "cross-leading".

In any case, it sounds like your vet is onto something with the hock injections. X-rays can be beneficial to see if there is arthritis or narrowing of the joint space, but there are lot of x-rays you can take and still not end up with a diagnosis. A lot of vets will treat on symptoms, and hock injections on a horse that is uncomfortable behind and displaying the behavior you describe is a good place to start. The other thing I'd do personally is have a chiropractor look at him- I've had a couple with issues getting lead changes and just general not-quite-rightness that resolved with a couple of chiropractic/bodywork treatments.

yellowbritches
Mar. 30, 2011, 11:38 AM
I commonly hear folks refer to a disunited canter (right lead in front, left lead behind) as "crossfiring". I don't think I've heard it used to refer to forging at the trot. I've also never heard of the term "crossleading" that retread seems to think is common. To each her own.

Regardless, horses I've known who consistently canter with the front end on one lead and the back end on another tended to have issues with either their hocks or in their pelvis or back. I'd keep consulting with your vet if she continues to do it post-injecting. Additionally, to the extent there's a training issue there, I'd stop the canter, and correct it from the trot every time she crossfires.
I agree with all of this. I've been taught to consider the pelvis the first suspect when dealing with a canter issue (ie, cross cantering, lead swapping or issues with lead changes, falling out of the canter, bucking or resisting the canter, etc). But I do also think that you may have to actually correct the behavior....

retreadeventer
Mar. 30, 2011, 11:59 AM
I know, I know, I can't change the world.
But using the term, "crossfiring" is strictly speaking incorrect when referring to canter, because the hind leg is not coming up and making contact, or hitting, the front leg, which is what crossfiring means. (The non horse definition is crossing lines of fire, diagonally contacting one another).

When a horse is disunited in canter, they aren't diagonally opposing the back and front legs, because canter isn't a diagonal gait. It's a lateral gait. (Think three-beat.) So when the hind legs can't canter on time with the leading foreleg, but one hind leg falls behind, making the canter time four-beat, it is a disunity of the legs that causes the fault, not an interference between the legs.
Clear as mud! :)
http://hollihorse.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=267

Edited to add that if you work with horses that race on the pace and the trot you become much more familiar with these nuances in terms, because there are differences in how one would shoe a horse to prevent these problems. When you have a horse shod correctly, they don't make mistakes in their gait, they stay on gait, and race well. When they are shod incorrectly, they don't stay on gait, they break and lose the race. When your groceries and feed bill depend upon being clear and correct with your farrier, you learn to speak the language very quickly, or go hungry! :)

paintmare
Mar. 30, 2011, 12:12 PM
In any case, it sounds like your vet is onto something with the hock injections. X-rays can be beneficial to see if there is arthritis or narrowing of the joint space, but there are lot of x-rays you can take and still not end up with a diagnosis. A lot of vets will treat on symptoms, and hock injections on a horse that is uncomfortable behind and displaying the behavior you describe is a good place to start. The other thing I'd do personally is have a chiropractor look at him- I've had a couple with issues getting lead changes and just general not-quite-rightness that resolved with a couple of chiropractic/bodywork treatments.

This is basically what my vet is doing. We had planned on doing x-rays the day she came (she had everything set up), but after she flexed clean (we had suspected most likely hocks, possibly stifles) she just injected her to see what happens. She had considered maybe OCD in the hocks? But we will pursue further diagnostics. Right now she just wants me to put a couple weeks into her and see what happens. I will mention the possibility of pelvis/back and see what she thinks. She just doesn't want to waste my money, so we're trying to pin-point where the problem is first.

Just wondering if anyone has had experience with this. And sorry if I confused anyone, I've only ever heard it referred to as crossfiring. She's cantering on the proper lead up front and swapping the back lead to clear it up for anyone wondering.

vineyridge
Mar. 30, 2011, 01:26 PM
I had a horse who did a lot of this at the canter when she first went into work. She ended up with acupuncture, massage, a complete lameness exam, hock injections and general system polyglycan (not sure if that's the right word) injections.

It seemed to cure the problem which was probably caused by very straight stifles and starting work. She did have some hock filling which resolved.

shawneeAcres
Mar. 30, 2011, 01:57 PM
Since the hock injections seemed to have helped I would do a few things. First, don't ask for TOO MUCH canter , as she is using her body/muscles in ways she previosuly was not and you may make her sore. Instead, ask for canter, if it is "correct" and not disunited, canter a circle, or part of the arena, then YOU bring her back to trot, do some trot for a bit then ask for canter, giving her muscles a chance to rest a bit from the effort. A correct canter makes the inside hind leg the "Weight bearing" leg so it takes some stres. Also, the horse may not be being ridden properly, I do not know, havent' seem video of you riding, but she needs to be ridden back to front, and often these horses tend to be VERY on the forehand when disunited. Secondly, I would do some hill work, trotting up hills, and do some trotting of caveletti, preferably raised a bit, to build up her back end, stifles and to increase the flexibility of the joints. I would also follow up with Polyglycan or adequan (polyglycan the best choise as it combines the best of adequan and legend) a one month course, with a 2.5 cc injection every 4 days.

When I was rather young I had a filly that was 3 or 4 at the time, she could NOT canter without either going disunited or swaping leads. I rode in a clinic with Sally O'Conner and she told me the mare would NEVER amount to anything. Well in spite of being heartbroken, I persisted and the mare went on to event thru training level with me, sold her and she went prelim, and then ended up being the pony club national champion at second leve dressage! So it can be "fixed"!

LisaB
Mar. 30, 2011, 02:29 PM
Had an OTTB that did this.
It was in his stifles. And that's a real bitch to 'fix'.
It's not the hocks, it's either the stifle or the loin coupling.
At the time, we didn't have a lot on the injection side. I would definitely get injected in the loin and go from there.
What I wound up doing was giving him estrone shots and a ton of hill work. He went up to training level fine but coming back from a lengthened canter was always our undoing, he would switch out. The best dressage test I had was in really deep mud at Morven. I could push him forward the entire test and it was more difficult for him to switch so he didn't. It was lovely :D

goodmorning
Mar. 30, 2011, 02:39 PM
I tend to think stifle issues when they are cross-cantering, but hocks can be an issue as well (or they could have been sore due to compensatory issues).

I do think a further work up is needed, but in the mean time I would discontinue the 20m circle which is not good for stifle issues.

poopoo
Mar. 30, 2011, 02:40 PM
For stifles, you can try Estrone injections. Mine cross-canters when his stifles are bad, and Estrone fixes it.

VCT
Mar. 30, 2011, 04:58 PM
I also always heard cross-firing used in reference to disunited canter.

Hope you can find out what the issue is and fix it. I agree with GotSpots and asterix... you need more info. I would take it somewhat easy on the workouts until you know whats going on since it seems there is definitely a physical issue.

I once had to retrain the canter on a horse for a client. She bought this horse from a trail string and he was just very stiff, always counter bent... did not want to correct bend.. and did not want to canter on the correct lead. It was a lot to fix and he pulled out every trick he could think of, swapping in front OR behind, yanking down into the bridle, etc. It was really hard for him to do it right after all those years of just cantering down (I'm guessing) a fairly straight trail bent however he wanted and on whatever lead he wanted. It was way worse to get him to go correct to the left. Anyways, eventually he was 'fixed' and would even canter on correct lead for his owner most of the time.

So, if you can find and fix the physical issue... you can fix an incorrect canter habit... it may take some real time though. And depending on the issue that is found... eventing might not be the best career choice for the horse.

Good Luck!

joiedevie99
Mar. 30, 2011, 05:09 PM
Get a solid diagnosis. Check hocks, stifles and SI. Have a chiropractor out as well. A 6 day per week progressive conditioning program would be the next step (assuming the vet clears her). Lots of hills to strengthen the back end, correct dressage work with a trainer, and lots of cavaletti to build muscle should help. Keep your canters short, and take cues from your dressage trainer as to how you will be most successful in striking off on the right lead.

Janet
Mar. 30, 2011, 05:12 PM
Personally, I have always understood "crossfiring" to be a Standardbred term for a severe form of forging.

Cross cantering is either a soundness or strength issue in the hind end.

enjoytheride
Mar. 30, 2011, 05:22 PM
I ride a lot of arabs and this is common with them, cantering with their heads in the air and dropped backs.

If she is totally sound I would start on the lunge line, in running or side reins so she has to work over her back. If she swaps behind bring her down to the trot and back into the canter. Follow that with under saddle work asking her to work into contact and be round and soft in her back.

Meetjeet
Mar. 31, 2011, 06:04 AM
Nice information you are gives to us.

mswillie
Mar. 31, 2011, 07:43 AM
OK, here's a longshot. Have you ever checked your saddle fit?

I haven't done tons of canter work with my horse and he's a little weak behind (we're working on that). So last summer he would cross canter once in a while and I was having difficulty with leads irrespective of whether or not he was disunited. I backed off most of the canter work and concentrated on working on the trot. Then he was out of work from November to January (facility issue, horse was fine).

So in January we finally change barns and get back into regular work. Last summer my saddle fitter had warned me that my saddle wasn't a great fit and as the horse's back muscled up he was going to need a different saddle. His topline started filling in and my saddle started pinching him. So about a month ago I started looking.

I got a saddle on trial and the horse hated it. :mad: He didn't want to canter and when he did he was cross cantering almost every time, both directions. Turns out this saddle was a tiny bit too wide and when I sat in it it was sitting on a small section of his spine. I was thinking hocks, stifles, call the vet out, etc. Still hadn't put 2 + 2 together. :confused:

Tried another saddle. The first time I trotted in it I nearly got bounced out of the tack he had so much more "push" in his hind end. :eek: His shoulder was more free and he was able to reach more forward. I had no idea that my horse could move like that. And the canter? Not one single incidence of a disunited canter, it was like flipping a switch. I bought that saddle last Saturday, attended a clinic that day, and it was the best, most productive, 45 minutes I have ever spent riding. :yes: :yes: :D

In retrospect I think my original saddle may also have been pinching him some all along but it was subtle and not apparent until he began to develop muscle. I couldn't see it but it was inhibiting his movement quite a bit.

I'm still getting used to the new saddle and he's picked up a wrong lead or two (my fault entirely) but no more disunited canters, even when the lead is wrong, it's wrong front & back. I realize that I've only had half a dozen rides in this saddle so far but the change has been so drastic and was so immediate I can't help but think that saddle fit has a lot more influence than I ever imagined. Even just a little off can make a huge difference.