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Diagnose this gait?

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  • Diagnose this gait?

    Looking at an online video of a for-sale QH who has been trained in the current head-below-his-knees, barely moving style that is Western Pleasure these days. At the jog and lope, he seems to have a very quick-quick shuffle behind, perhaps a little short on one side, and lots of head nodding.

    The young rider at these very slow gaits, particularly the lope, has a washing machine agitator motion going through her seat and waist.

    So is this a hock problem, in your view? This type of motion was pointed out to me when viewing other for-sale horses, as being very undesirable/evidence of something to avoid.

    And would you blame the aforementioned WP training for damaging hocks generally?

    Lastly, if you were looking for a mannerly gelding for light pleasure riding, would you avoid a horse that moved like this? As in, I'm older, cautious, and wouldn't ask much of this horse other than to be pleasant and maybe do a little local show sometime.

  • #2
    Can you ask your vet to take a look, either at the video or at the horse itself? I think I would want a vet to observe and to do flexions at the very least. I would also want to see the horse at liberty - without a rider.

    You're not expecting much of the horse by the sounds of it, so if it is physical it might be something you could accommodate anyways. Maybe it is a soundness issue solved with some chiro/acupuncture work, maybe it is a soundness issue that requires more as per your vet, or maybe it is simply the way he is ridden and trained. I would be hesitant to ask anyone to diagnose anything on a BB without the horse in front of them in person, and especially solely with a rider (and furthermore, especially with no video).
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


    • #3
      Couldn't possibly say without seeing the video.

      So many of those WP horses look very, very lame, but it's just a bastardization of the gait.

      Some ARE lame.
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      • #4
        I went on line and looked for WP horses for sale and found bunches that looked pretty bad.

        There's no way to tell without seeing the video and then the vet needs to make the final call.
        I personally am a very lazy rider, and you could call me timid as well, but even I would be driven nuts by the labored slowness that masquerades as a comfortable lope.
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible


        • #5
          As a local show judge, this was the bane of my existence. Most of the western pleasure horses that are QH are bridle lame. They are awful, just awful!

          I would find it very uncomfortable to sit on a horse like that. No way I'd want one.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks for the ideas/opinions. I'm back with horses after a Long Long Time Away and am having trouble generally looking at these poor WP horses compared to what used to be the standard - as several of you say the current style just looks abnormal from pace to head carriage. I'm not sure how these horses even can maintain the exaggeratedly slow, off-beat gaits. They look lame maybe even if they aren't.

            The "washing machine effect" seems to be some kind of giveaway for bad movement, but exactly what it points to is where I'm curious.

            Clearly a pre-purchase exam would be in order, and even then you wouldn't know whether giving the possibly symptomatic horse a break from this demand on their body would bring them back to a comfortable state.


            • #7
              Sounds like the horse is troping. A rather common occurrence among the horse show set.


              • Original Poster

                Yes, troping is exactly what it looks like, the question being whether there's underlying pathology. The movement just looks abnormal. I give the horse credit for being willing to cooperate with this bizarre training, holding his head so low as well. They've reduced his price, which makes me suspicious. The truly good ones surely go quickly?

                Of course, I could quit hiding behind my computer and go look for myself!


                • #9
                  You should try riding a gait like that before considering if you want to buy. Not only do they look unattractive, but they look uncomfortable too.
                  ... _. ._ .._. .._


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MizzouMom View Post
                    Yes, troping is exactly what it looks like, the question being whether there's underlying pathology. The movement just looks abnormal. I give the horse credit for being willing to cooperate with this bizarre training, holding his head so low as well. They've reduced his price, which makes me suspicious. The truly good ones surely go quickly?

                    Of course, I could quit hiding behind my computer and go look for myself!
                    See if you can watch the horse at liberty. Many of these horses are not lame but rather badly trained and when allowed to have lovely gaits...soft and fairly slow and with a nice level head carriage. They're usually way laid back kinds and that's why they put up with this kind of training. They can usually be "untrained" fairly easily if they are sound and you aren't riding their face all the time.

                    As more and more people are leaving the show pens and doing trail riding or just playing with their horses these are becoming less and less popular EXCEPT with the show crowd and there are lots of them around so prices do get dropped a lot....this may not be a top level WP horse so the show crowd isn't buying but he may be a perfectly nice trail horse once he figures out no one is going to yank his face if it isn't behind the vertical and he's going to be allowed to actually move. A drop in price doesn't necessarily mean a problem.
                    Colored Cowhorse Ranch
                    Northern NV


                    • #11
                      Often times this is a shoeing issue. WP horses are shod much like the standard show hunter, but WP horses need a much more exaggerated short toe - steep angle setup in the front.

                      If not set up "optimally", the trope will likely result. It could be simply that the horse is due, not shod correctly, or just not good at doing that. It could also be the rider of course.

                      Hock problems are certainly the norm.
                      Scott Gregory
                      (513) 678-9877


                      • #12
                        Poor things are forced to do that! But I wouldn't hesitate to consider the purchase of one with the proper vetting of course.
                        These guys are usually quite dead broke!!

                        By the way, the rule books state that head below withers is undesirable....but judges don't enforce it!
                        "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"


                        • Original Poster

                          More good thoughts -thanks! And seeing him at liberty would probably answer a lot of questions. He is 13 now, with some points earned with a previous owner. The current owner also has another more successful show horse they are selling - the girl has school activities and has lost interest in showing.

                          In this economy it's a surprise anyone is buying horses, I suppose. I'm thinking a companion for my mare, a fellow who would be a good example and might bring down the level of diva drama we now have, and a horse that is actually ready to ride (which I thought I was getting with the mare).