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Frequent Horse Tripping - What To Do?

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  • Frequent Horse Tripping - What To Do?

    Hi there fellow COTHers! I have come to this forum seeking your insight again.

    To cut straight to the chase here, I bought a 6 year-old mare about a month ago as my new hunter. She vetted well with only a few minor things to be seen (a little early-stage arthritis in a couple of places but nothing unmanageable or crazy). She is built pretty well conformationally and her personality is on the quiet side. In other words, she is lazy and easy-going - exactly what I was looking for. I love her to death, and I think she is the perfect match for me.

    Fast forward a couple of weeks and I have noticed that she is stumbling quite a bit. It doesn't matter if she is walking, trotting, or cantering, and it is not isolated to one side of the body. It started off as just a stumble maybe once a ride, but yesterday, she stumbled at least 4 times in our jumping lesson.

    I have been scratching my head as to what could be the cause of the frequent tripping. From what I remember, she didn't stumble at all when I tried her. She had a full PPE just one month ago that included x-rays of both front feet, front fetlocks, stifles, and hocks. Nothing is on those x-rays that would lead me to suspect that it is the cause of the tripping. The PPE had the normal neurological exam as well, which she passed with flying colors. Since she just had a PPE done, I do not think it is pain related or neurological, but of course, my mind goes there nonetheless. I think it is also worth mentioning that she also just had my saddle custom-fitted to her, so I do not think it could be saddle fit either. The only thing I could maybe think of would be that the farrier might not have taken off enough toe when he shod her a couple of weeks ago, but I am not as knowledgable about feet as I should be.

    So my question is: do y'all think the tripping is just her being lazy and not paying atention to where her feet are, a rider issue, or should I be looking for something physical? Is my horse mom brain over-thinking this?

    Below are two separate clips from our lesson yesterday.
    This is "Izzy Tripping" by Ashlyn Rustin on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

  • #2
    I would show this to your vet. That’s worrying.

    Tripping and falling at the canter is no joke. People get seriously hurt.
    A helmet saved my life.

    2017 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!


    • #3
      Did you get neck xrays done in your prepurchase? I rode one that did this and it progressed pretty quickly to some really scary situations where the horse almost went down. That horse ended up having arthritic changes in a few places in his c-spine. Injections helped the symptoms a lot. Having long toes or a slightly imbalanced trim was really dangerous for him.


      • #4
        Neck issue was my first thought too. I'd stop riding her immediately and get her checked. And yes show your vet this video.
        "When a horse greets you with a nicker & regards you with a large & liquid eye, the question of where you want to be & what you want to do has been answered." CANTER New England


        • #5
          Second the recommendation to show the video to your vet and to radiograph the neck. I had one that did it for years, starting when he was three, but it was very sporadic. Some of them were way scarier than your video, but I (almost) always stayed on. We thought he was a klutz. We found the neck issues with the second nuclear scintigraphy when he was eleven. I wasn’t smart enough to have the whole horse scanned the first time when he was nine and still wonder if the overall outcome would have been better had we found it sooner. He passed a neuro exam up to the point of blindfolding him to walk down a hill only because he wouldn’t wear a blindfold. Everything else was fine. The referral vet made it clear that he was not neurologic, but that a packet of information occasionally didn’t make it down the spinal cord, leading to a temporary loss of proprioception. That, in turn, could make him catch a toe and stumble and/or cause him to put his foot down harder. The latter, over time, resulted in a collateral ligament strain which was the reason for the first scintigraphy and MRI. I got him back to work and jumping, but then things went wrong. I think the damage was accelerated by whatever the vet hospital did during the surgery to wire his jaw back together or by his struggles to free himself when he got his jaw caught in the first place. He was never the same after that.
          Last edited by Peggy; Sep. 30, 2019, 09:07 PM.
          The Evil Chem Prof


          • #6
            Vet. EPM can cause horses to start tripping.


            • Original Poster

              Moosequito no, I did not have neck x-rays done at the time of PPE as nothing leading up to that suggested that I should. No tripping in any of the videos I ever saw of her, and she never tripped when I tried her.

              I will definitely be placing a call to the vet to schedule a time for him to come out and see her. Thank you to each and every one of you for your input so far.


              • #8
                Originally posted by hunterjumper98 View Post
                Moosequito no, I did not have neck x-rays done at the time of PPE as nothing leading up to that suggested that I should. No tripping in any of the videos I ever saw of her, and she never tripped when I tried her.

                I will definitely be placing a call to the vet to schedule a time for him to come out and see her. Thank you to each and every one of you for your input so far.
                I would never have considered having neck rads done during a pre-purchase either until I struggled with the horse I described above. Since that one, I've worked with several others with kissing spines or cervical issues, and now I would never buy one without first x-raying the entire spine. I am absolutely not criticizing you for not having the imaging done, though, so I hope it didn't come off that way. I was just wondering whether there were any x-rays. I sincerely hope that she doesn't have any neck or spinal issues, and that there's a simple solution like needing to adjust her feet or something. She's super cute and you make a really nice pair. Please keep us posted!

                Edited to add: I also rode one for a while that had EPM. I don't remember all the details because it was so long ago now, but his very mild neurological symptoms were managed with EPM medication. It was really a nice horse, and I remember the EPM test being fairly straightforward, with a relatively simple treatment plan.


                • #9
                  Start with the vet - even though nothing neurological showed up at the PPE this is definitely a serious enough change to investigate thoroughly. If that turns up nothing of concern, your farrier will be the next best person to consult. And in the meantime, don’t ride her. Better safe than sorry.


                  • #10
                    I might also consider Lymes. I know of a horse who began tripping and falling when Lymes attacked its nervous system.


                    • #11
                      My horse was diagnosed with EPM. Mild tigers. But there was nothing simple about treatment Nor was test simple. Finished 125 days of treatment mid August. Back to light riding. My guy is an old friend. EPM is frighteningly serious. Treatment now gives good results.


                      • #12
                        She very VERY recently passed a PPE. I would not go throwing money down the diagnostics rabbit hole just yet.

                        I would look into farrier and footing issues first. Presumably you mostly ride her in the same ring, which is a different ring than the one you tried her in. I'm also assuming her feet were due in the month you've owned her so she's had her first shoeing with a new farrier.
                        Last edited by OnDeck; Oct. 2, 2019, 12:29 AM.


                        • #13
                          I agree with OnDeck. I'm not saying it *couldn't* be a neck/spine issue, but it seems much more likely to be a shoeing/foot issue if it's a new thing since she came to you (and presumably) to a new farrier as well (and yes, different footing can also influence that). If you don't trust your farrier (or have another farrier you can ask) or trainer to make that call you can always post pictures here of her feet. I would be suspicious of her toes being a bit long...or at least I would investigate that before jumping to conclusions about her neck/spine.
                          Flying F Sport Horses
                          Horses in the NW


                          • #14
                            My first thought was the footing, too, since she is new to your barn. I wondered if the footing is deeper than she is used to--though in your pictures, it doesn't look particularly deep. Are you able to exercise her somewhere other than that ring--like on grass or a dirt road--and see if she trips everywhere or just in that ring?

                            I also wonder if she could just be getting used to a rider who has different balance or style than her previous rider.

                            Does your trainer ride her? Does she trip with your trainer, too?


                            • #15
                              Get it checked out, by vet and farrier. The sooner, the better. Set your mind at ease. My guy was trippng, vet diagnosed mild ringbone. Wish I had had a diagnosis sooner, but I played the waiting game. In my case, it didn't do my horse any favors.


                              • #16
                                I tend to agree with checking out feet, footing, all those variables first. Like others have asked, does she only do it in this arena or does she do it often no matter where she is at? Does she do it without a rider too? What do her feet look like right now? How recently has she had her feet done? Both trips happened right around the same jump, how is the ground in that area, is it uneven? Do the jumps get moved when they drag, maybe the dragging around the jumps has made divets if it's only in that area. I think all of these variables need to be examined first before going to the vet.


                                • #17
                                  That's a massive trip. She came really really close to completely going down at a trot. How is she on the lunge line? How deep is the footing? Are you willing to post photos of her feet?


                                  • #18
                                    Definitely could be EPM and I would get it checked out by the vet immediately. It is so dangerous for you if she falls. And, unfortunately many times EPM can sneak through a vet check if they weren't exhibiting symptoms at the time of PPE. Get the vet out


                                    • #19
                                      The trip at the trot didn’t particularly look like a long toe kind of trip. It looked more like a proprioceptive misfire to me, although overall I don’t see anything too weird in her way of going. Would be good to see other examples. You say it’s not consistently one leg. Might be interesting to block a front foot and see what happens. I wonder if she is foot sore and what looked weird to me was her trying to land more on a toe. Otherwise, checking the neck and/or for something like EPM is never a bad idea. I have seen neck problems progress as fast but I wouldn’t say that’s a highly likely scenario.


                                      • #20
                                        I would wonder about the footing. Some horses are just way more sensitive to footing changes than others. One of mine will trip in bad footing, especially if it is soft then suddenly hard somewhere.
                                        Another thing to think about is what you are doing before the trip. In the video you have just ridden a downward transition and the horse isn’t really being balanced by you. She isn’t in your hands and on the contact. Being so young, she may just need some help until she can balance herself better. Not a crazy thing in a young horse.
                                        With you just getting a PPE done I would lean more towards either footing issues or training balance issues.