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Help for a toe dragger?

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  • Help for a toe dragger?

    I was helping a friend of mine yesterday work with her mare-- a 14.3 hand paint, and while the mare has been coming along really well, especially given that she wasn't exactly bred with dressage in mind, she continues to really drag her toes behind (as in bad enough that she totally wore her back feet round with her last set of shoes ). I was wondering if this is something that can be helped with training or certain exercises? I know she has spoken with the farrier about it, and he is making adjustments with her shoes, but I figured there might be other ways to help her as well. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.
    A Native Floridian no longer lost somewhere in Clovis, New Mexico, but instead wreaking havoc in Reno, NV.
    www.theideaoforder.com
    www.xhaltsalute.com

  • #2
    I'm not a dressage rider, so probably can't help too much with exercises. But I would take her to a chiropractor soon and then start building up muscle. Start working going up and down hills at least once a week, turn her out in a hilly pasture if possible. A lot of the time I have found a horse will drag their toes because of weak stifles, get some muscle built up and she will hopefully get better. If not, I would start looking into maybe some other sort of stifle issue. Good luck with the little mare, I hope she starts going better soon

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    • #3
      Originally posted by The Hobbit View Post
      she continues to really drag her toes behind (as in bad enough that she totally wore her back feet round with her last set of shoes ).
      This is a symptom of hind end pain/lameness. Have her fully evaluated by a vet before continuing with any expectations.
      Once she's declared 'sound' focus on riding back to front. Hills will help too.
      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
      chaque pas est fait ensemble

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      • #4
        Just learned the other day that toe dragging is often a result of either teeth problems (need floated) or jaw issues (like TMJ).
        Just a thought!
        http://www.minuspride.blogspot.com

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        • #5
          Once vetted, consider multiple cavalletti

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Good points!

            Thank you all! I wondered about the stifles but she doesn't appear to be "off" at all or sore, and has a wonderful attitude. I sort of chalked it up to her being downhill (about 1.5-2 inches shorter at the withers than the back) and bred to have the 'western pleasure' jog deal. I will suggest the vetting to her owner and we can go from there. I'd love to try the hill work, but I'd probably need to move for that to happen.
            A Native Floridian no longer lost somewhere in Clovis, New Mexico, but instead wreaking havoc in Reno, NV.
            www.theideaoforder.com
            www.xhaltsalute.com

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            • #7
              Originally posted by minuspride View Post
              Just learned the other day that toe dragging is often a result of either teeth problems (need floated) or jaw issues (like TMJ).
              Just a thought!
              Really? That is really interesting! I've never heard that.

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              • #8
                fo one of my horses, it is a fitness thing. once she's got good muscling, the drag goes away.

                but i do agree- lameness check could be in order to determine why the horse is doing that.
                My blog: Change of Pace - Retraining a standardbred via dressage

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                • #9
                  A few of the horses at my barn do this. The issue for them was that none of them were being ridden forward enough. The owners were comfortable riding them below tempo and they were comfortable not using themselves. The horses were all just slogging along and not being asked to use themselves athletically. Once they were ridden forward, the toe dragging disappeared.

                  But, definitely do a vet check for back/hind-end issues and teeth/jaw issues since more forward riding will exacerbate a lameness issue.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Reagan View Post
                    Really? That is really interesting! I've never heard that.
                    Yeah, she said it's a result of the jaw "locking up" the neck, which affects the back, and eventually the hips and toes. The horse in question had some muscle atrophy in the back and back legs, so perhaps that also has something to do with it.

                    Of course there are many other simpler explanations...but definitely something to look into, if nothing else is found!
                    http://www.minuspride.blogspot.com

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                    • #11
                      My toe dragger turned out to have wobbles and after a few years it got worse. I thought he was just being lazy. Might want to consider nuerological tests just to rule them out.
                      Derby Lyn Farms Website

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                      • #12
                        My mare has stifle issues due to a slip on the ice & doing the splits a few years ago combined with the fact that she's very straight through the hind end. If her one stifle is bothering her, you'll see 3 hoof prints and a drag mark in the sand for every stride. Accupuncture helped a TON as did "physio" work such as hills, backing up, lots of trot poles and caveletti.
                        __________________________________________________ _
                        Proud member of PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals!

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                        • #13
                          My normally-lazy-anyway OTTB developed a heck of a hind-toe drag this spring after boogering up his SI somehow-- he came in from the pasture with a "whopper of a hematoma" (to quote the vet) on his rump. He was only off for about 2 weeks, was OK for light riding after that, but over the next few weeks, I started noticing some serious wear on his hind toes. Had the chiro come out (helped a little, nothing drastic-- she did his TMJ too), but finally after about 2 months, things seemed to slowly start resolving on their own.

                          I board with another CotHer who posts here; I was having a slight panic on our first ride after the chiro, when his previous behaviors had resurfaced (head-tossing, unwilling to go forward)... fellow CotHer (who's an amazing dressage rider) thought it looked more behavioral than pain-related, so she graciously hopped on him for me so I could watch him go. After initially fighting her about going forward, Horse eventually settled down and within 5 minutes, he was going better than I have ever seen him go-- and no more toe-dragging.

                          So, moral of the story-- SI injury prompted the toe drag, basically lots of time off has done wonders to fix it, BUT he has to be ridden forward or else he slogs along like a lazy hiefer.
                          *friend of bar.ka

                          "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"

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                          • #14
                            My guy was dragging his toes behind while he was working to rebuilt muscle (he had the winter off). Unfortunately, the stonedust ate his toes more quickly than another kind of footing would, so then he became footsore. Popped some shoes on behind and now he's going GREAT! He'd been checked out by a vet, chiro, etc.
                            "Last time I picked your feet, you broke my toe!"

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Reddfox View Post
                              A few of the horses at my barn do this. The issue for them was that none of them were being ridden forward enough. The owners were comfortable riding them below tempo and they were comfortable not using themselves. The horses were all just slogging along and not being asked to use themselves athletically. Once they were ridden forward, the toe dragging disappeared.

                              But, definitely do a vet check for back/hind-end issues and teeth/jaw issues since more forward riding will exacerbate a lameness issue.
                              Hey, look! You posted and I didn't even notice! lol

                              Which rider lets her lazy sloth-horse just slog along and not use himself?? *shyly raises hand* You sooo outed him... I thought he was permanently crippled, turns out he was just being an arse. What would we do without you??
                              *friend of bar.ka

                              "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by cnvh View Post
                                Hey, look! You posted and I didn't even notice! lol

                                Which rider lets her lazy sloth-horse just slog along and not use himself?? *shyly raises hand* You sooo outed him... I thought he was permanently crippled, turns out he was just being an arse. What would we do without you??
                                Haha! I'm nothing special, really! Your goober outed himself! You were being so kind to himself and he was so taking advantage of you at that point! I think our sand indoor makes it worse... But I was also talking about the other two that are/were showing the same wear. Your guy had a legit excuse, these two don't other than being slugs... But, they're all the prettiest slugs I ever saw

                                But- back to OP, wear like that can be a lot of things- it's never good in the long run. A full check over to eliminate pain reasons, but go after the root of the problem, whether it's deep, abrasive footing, lazy hind, neurological or physical and treat it because while I've never seen it, I've heard that horses can wear through to the laminae.

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by minuspride View Post
                                  Just learned the other day that toe dragging is often a result of either teeth problems (need floated) or jaw issues (like TMJ).
                                  Just a thought!

                                  I have never heard of those causes, but IMO dragging the hind feet might really have causes related to interior medical problems of the horse.
                                  It sounds weird but did you check for gastric problems?? Many horses have gastric ulcers.
                                  I had a horse which was dragging her hindlegs. I kind of ignored it, but than she developed severe problems which turned out to be gastric ulcer. After we treated it and she recovered completely, to my surprise, she never dragged her hind feet anymore....
                                  https://www.facebook.com/Luckyacresfarm
                                  https://www.facebook.com/Ulrike-Bsch...4373849955364/

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                                  • #18
                                    With my horse, toe dragging was a sign of high suspensory and SI issues. As she rehabs and gets stronger, she drags her toes less... but will start dragging the LH every time I introduce something new to her. She usually works out of it, if not in that ride, within a few rides.
                                    You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                                    1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by minuspride View Post
                                      Just learned the other day that toe dragging is often a result of either teeth problems (need floated) or jaw issues (like TMJ).
                                      Just a thought!
                                      Yes! I had a similar issue with my mare! She had a jaw abcess and while the vet told me at first I could ride because it didn't seem to interfere, he changed his mind after seeing her under saddle. She looked like she had stiffles issues and kinda looked lame! Which of course she wasn't!!

                                      I guess it make sense and could be compared to a horse being, as the expression says: 'rein lame'.

                                      There is PLENTY of possibilities for the toe dragging issue. I would have the vet have a look first!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        If I have this right, the nucheal (spelling?) muscle/ligament attaches to/at the poll, travels all the way down the neck and then *fans out* into an array of muscle/ligament attachments descending down the vertebrae sets to a little over half way down the back/spine.

                                        Can't remember if it is a muscle or ligament, but I think it is a ligament.

                                        Another set of muscle/ligaments attach in a similar but in reverse order and go all the way down to the dock and a bit down the tail. How this set works I am less sure of.

                                        But, yes, something affecting the poll can travel all the way down the spine and exhibit as a hind end problem.

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