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Canter soreness or lameness?

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  • Canter soreness or lameness?

    Well, am waiting on a vet visit but thought I'd put this out.

    Have a WB that am working around second level, pushing third in some things. Left leg is weaker leg and working on strengthening it. Horse is progressing well except canter work is on and off. One day will be good, can do light collection, but the next day horse rushes onto the forehand and tries to refuse taking more weight behind. Worked on the assumption that it's just strength (has regular vet checks and lower legs look great). But last week did push it some and did some collected canter work, one session, just a few strides then walk. Two days later horse drags left hind - had day off in between. Fourth day after session horse seems fine.

    No swelling in lower leg, hocks seem fine, felt stiffle joint as someone walked him and no popping or off feeling. Next day horse was much better. So, could this just be muscle soreness? Any ideas on what to look for in hip besides stiffle? Am thinking something may be off in hips - horse swings back beautifully at trot.

    This horse doesn't naturally tuck his pelvis and has just started to use it more regularly in work. Horse also has super jump in canter.

    For those who have brought a horse along into collected work, can some horses become sore this easily? Hoping vet can help figure this out but thought I'd ask. Have trained other horses and have never had this much difficulty with canter work - it usually progresses slowly but evenly.

  • #2
    When you say hocks seem fine, have they been xrayed?


    • #3
      Yes- many of the things that can cause a horse to become more sore than normal when they transfer weight to their hind legs aren't things you would feel by palpating the joint. Yes, it can be muscle soreness, but I would highly doubt that based on the super minimal amount of collected canter that it sounds like you did. If you did 10 straight minutes of collected canter on a horse that is just learning it- then maybe. I'd x-ray the hocks and stifles and go from there.


      • Original Poster

        Hocks xrayed when younger and have done regular flexion tests by vet to check. Hocks always tested fine.

        Yeah, thinking xrays are in order. Will see what lameness vet says.


        • #5
          I had a gelding with a weaker side like you describe. We did rads and flexions but couldn't find anything other than a weak stifle. He wasn't as far along but problems did become evident in the canter. It could just be development but good call getting it checked out.

          Other things to consider...his age and previous level of fitness. Younger horses who are developing riding fitness for the first time are easier to make sore without a serious underlying issue. My guy responded well to an hour of walking twice a week and shorter schooling sessions along with the loading dose of adequan. If you don't find anything else give that a try.

          Good luck and keep us posted.


          • #6
            Wait for the vet. Too many zebras out there. If you're lucky you'll get an answer before they come hoofing it down the road.
            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


            • #7
              I've never had a horse sore so one sided that they are dragging a toe after a little collected canter. A vet check is definitely in order.

              As well, ask your vet on his opinion about the alignment on the hind legs with regards to the farrier work. I had a heck of a time with farriers for a while on my current horse and it took a few trial runs with different farriers before I found my current guy who sees legs in a whole different light than any other farrier I've used.
              He has shown me whole new world with regards to what is alignment and crookedness, and strengthening the horse with proper trimming and shoeing techniques. Farriery is, in my opinion, one of the most important (if not the most important) aspects of dressage training. "No hoof no horse" is an adage to live by.
              An x-ray from in front and beside the fetlock will show you the alignment of the legs with regards to how the farrier has put it, and a few degrees of imbalance, especially laterally, can be the difference between soundness and lameness.

              Good luck!