I have a 4 1/2 yr old draft cross ... she is 1/4th draft, and 3/4 TB/quarter horse. Registered as a "Canadian Sport Horse" - whatever that is! She's cute, I like her. LOL
She wasnt started until she was 3 1/2, turned 4 in early May of this year. I just sent her off to training this month to be started over fences (wanted it done right). She's being schooled on the flat with some jumping, getting the opportunity to go thru the free jumping lines, and nothing high.
She's always been 100% sound, and is currently barefoot. Trainer pointed out to me yesterday that the mare has been resting her back left foot occasionally. "Flipped over" on the top of the hoof (as in, the coronet is close to the ground). Its odd, but not really alarming. She hasnt been lame AT ALL, is showing no signs of discomfort or anything.
Hopefully its just a habit, but I have been plagued with soundness issues with my last three horses. I was hoping to buy a little bit "hardier" horse this time! Plus, I tried to do everything right by starting her late, starting her over fences 'late' and lightly. Am I just being paranoid about her resting her foot like this? Again, she does not appear "off" or uncomfortable at all. In fact, she looks GREAT. Should I worry?
I wouldn't consider 4 1/2 "late" to be starting o/f, especially in a draft cross.
If it was my youngster and the idea was to keep her sound and have her last longer, I'd turn her out for the winter, bring her back next spring.
The heavier breeds seem to mature, physically, later. Sometimes as late as 6-7 before they can be considered fully grown.
As they go thru growth spurts, their hind ends get higher, then the front, then they don't seem to know what to do with their legs, one day they can't hold a canter lead, the next day they can hardly walk a straight line!
If she's standing a bit odd, but not outright lame, it might just be a good time to back off for a week or two and give her lots of turnout.
Many horses "rest" a hind foot. Even the knuckling you describe might just be your horse's normal resting position. What you should look for is whether your mare is resting the same leg all the time, or both on and off. If it is always the same leg, I would worry about a pain issue somewhere-if your back or leg is sore, you would rety to relieve pain/pressure by shifting weight around. If it's both legs, it's less bothersome IME-just like we get tired being on our feet all day, so can horses-shifting weight in this instance isn't necessarily a sign of pain anywhere, just a brief rest on one muscle group. My horse rests one leg quite often when he's tied for grooming-he's bored and feels relaxed...but he doesn't rest the same one all the time, or I would worry.
If asked to stand square, does she? Or does she sink right back? This can also be an indicator of relaxing vs. discomfort.
If it's one sided or she's sinking back to the position right away, I would have a vet and a chiropractor look at her. In the meantime, perhaps back off jumping until you get the all clear from both professionals and work on things that will strengthen the topline and improve balance, which in the long run, can help keep her sound.
One of my horses does this all the time, both hinds (obviously not at the same time). As far as I can tell it's not an indication of anything sinister, unless it is always the same leg.
4 1/2 is not old to start a horse like this in real work. My young horse is also 1/4 draft and was in lightweight work when I bought him coming 5 -- trail riding and hopping small trot fences.
He ABSOLUTELY grew after that -- blankets I bought him his 5 year old winter didn't even remotely fit in any direction for his 6year old winter. He's now 7 and is STILL changing -- doubt he's getting any taller but my saddle fitter was just out and the horse's topline has changed so dramatically in 6 months he couldn't believe it.
He did exactly what baysngreys described -- even this summer, went through phases where his canter sucked, etc...and then suddenly his balance, strength and confidence just improved by leaps and bounds.
Take it SLOW with these chunky horses!! Mine is about year behind a friend's horse who is a much smaller, lighter animal.
I might have the vet look at it the next time he's out, just to "see". The mare doesnt seem to be having a problem at all and seems very happy with her work... I've just battled soundness problems with my last few and sometimes I think that I'm "looking" for things.
The chiro idea is a good one.. she has probably never been adjusted. Anyone have a recommendation in the north Texas area?