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Cross-cantering Woes (*LONG*)

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  • Original Poster

    Thanks for all this feedback, I really appreciate it. My first thought was neuro too BUT like I said, once I revamped the training and made him engaged I realized I was "letting" him get bored and strung out on the rail, he greatly improved.

    Here's my basic thought before I get in deeper with vet bills... and I'd like to point out I love this horse TO. DEATH. but he is not insured and I need to be careful about how much I spend at a time..I'm $1,000 deep so far, lol. I'd love to get a bone scan done on him but I've worked at a clinic and I know after all is said and done it can be upwards of $2500+.

    BUT! I'm wondering if the existing spur in the R hock DOES bother him, if only at the canter. Here's why I think this.... if he's constantly favoring that lead, it could be that he wishes to keep that limb underneath him. When its not under him, I am wondering if it bothers him, as it is on the dorsal portion of the hock, facing inside (if that makes sense). I want to test him out in the open asking for a L lead canter on a flat straightaway and see if he holds it. I haven't been able to do so since it's hunting season and the hunters around here will shoot almost anything, it seems. If he can't hold it on a straight, open area, I know it's not a balance/weakness issue.

    This horse hasn't tripped or ANYTHING since I re-evaluated the training program. And I know, I know...neuro diseases can be intermittent. Next vet step is likely to pull blood for EHV titer count and Lyme (sending to Cornell). I may also consider injecting the hock to see if that yields any changes. If not, we know its either higher (SI maybe?) or maybe neuro.

    I will definitely take the advice of the rectal palpation to check for bone issues in the pelvis...that could be VERY valuable.


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by gumshoe View Post
      I also agree that it's time for the vet to take over... However, have you had anyone on the ground video tape you riding? My horse was having some problems swapping leads behind, tripping, actually fell down a couple of times. Turned out to be a locking stifle. His stifle would lock but he would trip up front. So difficult to figure out what was happening because it happened so fast. It wasn't until watching a video (and slowing it down) that I was able to see what was really happening. I had his stifles blistered and no trouble since careful rehab after that (following vet's orders about riding after the blister).
      Interesting! and good to know! Did your horse's stifles lock up or present issue on flexion exams with the vet? I ask, because when we flexed my guy he was clean as can be in that dept. BUT like I mentioned, he was only slightly positive on both R limbs anyways.


      • #23
        I have not studied all of your posts, but my horse went through a phase when he was seven or so, of swapping behind when he was supposed to be on his right lead. In the round pen, he could not hold it at all, and on course, he would swap in or just before the corners. I did a lot to diagnose it -- injected hocks, stifles and SI. Tried hind shoes with trailers. Nothing seemed to help. We went through this from about March to Dec of one year. Then I pulled his rear shoes and he got worked only very lightly through the winter. He is out a lot. Next spring he was fine and has never been that way again. So I am not sure what he was going through, but don't give up!
        Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by ToTheNines View Post
          I have not studied all of your posts, but my horse went through a phase when he was seven or so, of swapping behind when he was supposed to be on his right lead. In the round pen, he could not hold it at all, and on course, he would swap in or just before the corners. I did a lot to diagnose it -- injected hocks, stifles and SI. Tried hind shoes with trailers. Nothing seemed to help. We went through this from about March to Dec of one year. Then I pulled his rear shoes and he got worked only very lightly through the winter. He is out a lot. Next spring he was fine and has never been that way again. So I am not sure what he was going through, but don't give up!

          this sounds like my horse! was your guy sound on flexions at least and did you xray anything? The problem with NY winters is that the turnout IS limited unfortunately..which sucks because obviously turnout is good for arthritis even in its beginning stages AND the sanity of an OTTB, :P. In seriousness though, this response gives me hope. I have some days where I am just so frustrated and upset with myself over it.. I use sore no more on his joints almost every time I see him. I take exceptional care of him, so it just breaks my heart that we're going through this, you know.

          I am also wondering if *I* could be an issue. I broke my left ankle a few years ago and I'm thinking because of that (partially) I could be weighting heavier on the right, which could cause an imbalance in him...? I am thinking he will get a lot of time off during this and I will get a chiro adjustment as well. I am just thinking if I am the problem, and he's used to a right-side-heavy rider, he could be so used to that that its translating to his canter all the time? These are just ideas.

          i will not give up on diagnosis, either. :]


          • #25
            I will give you some more thoughts, in addition to my previous post, mainly because I remember how distressing mine's swappping problem was for me.

            He is fairly long backed. I have been thinking about his soundness lately because I have had him off his program a little bit. As a result, lately he has had that "light" feeling behind that reminds me of when he used to swap behind (about five years ago). I sort of think it is high - back or stifles. The vet saw him briefly yesterday to give him a Legend/pentosan maintenance shot, and noted that his stifles were slightly effused but not remarkable for his age (12). I have also noticed that he is back to backing up against his stall wall. So I will be more rigorous about his program which is: at least once at week, trot around for 12 - 15 minutes in my big slightly sloping field. Three big loops of canter each way. Once or twice a week, lots of cantering pole work, two poles in a circle, canter a curve of poles about 10' apart, and canter a series of three cavelleti about 10' apart. About once a week, some counter canter, but not whole lot. Incorporate some backing. Lots of downward transitions, pushing his butt forward and down as he changes gait. Light work (not cranked) in the Pessoa rig about once a week for 30 minutes, mostly walk and trot, and some canter transitions if he seems loose and supple. All this keeps him soft and supple in his back, and as long as he feels ok, I jump him a little bit.

            And when I am going to jump him, he is SO much better if he has some low trot jumps first.
            Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


            • Original Poster

              Would it help if I could upload videos of him doing this freely in the arena, etc? I just noticed he hadnt been cross cantering at our Jumper Derby in October. In fact, he was VERY sure footed and good at that event. I have photos of him too for conformation view, maybe someone would know what he'd be prone to, based on his build. He IS kind of long backed, so that will probably answer a lot of it...SI could very well be bothering him.

              I also have a very recent youtube video of him and I working W/T both directions in a good frame (not perfect yet, but progressing)! Maybe the visuals will help too. He's SO silly in the arena by himself...there is a mirror and he hangs out by it rearing and bucking a ton..always has. Hes always galloping around and being silly...this low turnout options in NY (winter) really gets to him, haha.


              • #27
                0/5 on all flexions.


                • #28
                  I deal primarily with OTTBs and cross cantering and swapping out behind is a pretty common issue that pops up in the first year or two. It is almost always an issue in the spine and pelvis and not the legs. When you think about it, we pull them off the track, add 200lbs onto there stomach plus a heavier rider, and ask them to slow down,-there's a lot of changing going on in there backs.

                  I have one that is in that stage and one that is just coming out of it. The one that is getting out of it started swapping really bad so I gave her a few days off to see if the soreness would subside. When I went to lunge her and start working again she fell right over on the lunge line at a medium canter. So I decided to take her in and like usual it was a spine/pelvis issue. Injections, lunging program, sucess!

                  My advice would be: if the issue is getting better to try and get into a little bit of a lunging program, they can really make a difference in OTTBs. A week or two of just lunging then get back into light riding and keep lunging once or twice a week. Surcingle only (you can tie to girths together too), and some type of device (I like neck stretchers, chambones work too) that doesn't put them into a headset, but doesn't let them go around hollowed out. Usually injections are helpful before hand but even without, by week two you should know if it is helping or not.

                  That's just my opinion, which is one of many I'm sure.