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Swapping off in back

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  • Swapping off in back

    Looking for advice on my OTTB. He's 11, ran on the track until he was 6, started jumping as an 8 year old, but didn't really start serious h/j training until I bought him a year ago. He and I are still doing small stuff and I just started showing him in 2' classes at local shows. He keeps swapping off in back at the canter! It's much worse when he's tense or his feet are due for the farrier.

    2 chiros have looked at him and didn't think that it was a soundness issue. One suggested it was simply a fitness issue.
    He is on Adequan monthly, and also gets 10,000 mg of MSM everyday.
    The vets in my area will refer me out of state to have a lameness expert look at him. There's not a vet in a 50 mile radius that can do digital xrays.

    The swapping off has gotten better with time. 6 months ago (when last chiro looked at him and suggested fitness) he was swapping off just cantering in strait lines. Now it's mainly around turns on a course. I'm not sure what else to do at this point. I really can't afford to sink a fortune into vetting. The trainer I ride with insists that it's getting better and seeing the chiro more frequently will help. He doesn't seem to be uncomfortable and otherwise seems sound. I desperately love this horse and just want to be able to do 2'6" with him at local shows but I want him to be comfortable doing that.

  • #2
    I had a horse that did this a lot. She was built a little long behind, so it was easy for her to swap back and forth when she was a little off balance. She did it in turnout and in the round pen constantly, a little less under saddle but still enough to be an issue. As her canter improved and she got a lot better about carrying herself, she (mostly) stopped doing it. Enough that she would only do it if she tripped or something, not just randomly throughout our ride.

    On the plus side, she had great flying changes!
    If the pony spits venom in your face or produces a loud roar, it is probably not a pony. Find another. -The Oatmeal


    • #3
      Try to find a reputable chiropractor who has gone through university for people chiro, but does horses, these guys are few and far between, but they are out there. Make sure it's a chiropractor and not a vet - I wouldn't go to my family physician if my back hurt. If you have already done this...
      Attempt to find a vet who does this electroshock thing that I forget the name of, however, they basically stick 2 pins in your horse and attach an eletrocurrent thing onto them and it makes the muscles contract and relax to help with soft tissue damage. Physiotherapists do a form of this for people.
      AND ride your horse in a long and low frame, staying off his back for as much time as possible. Try to really get him to elongate his neck and reach towards the ground. It will be slow progress at first, but you guys will eventually get it.
      Make sure the horse moves as much as possible. Long warm-ups and long cool-downs.
      Jumping can help them stretch out, so maybe see how he is after jumping several fences.

      Best of luck!


      • #4
        Does he swap off when cantering on the lunge or in the round pen (on his own)?

        Does he have any muscle loss over his topline? Does he stumble or ocassionally come out stiff? These were the signs in my horse that lead us to an EPM diagnosis (along with swapping out behind in the canter).


        • Original Poster

          Thank you guys for the feedback. The chiro I use was a human chiro first, and is fairly reputable. He travels quite a bit to various AA show across the country and has some high $ clients.

          I'll definitely try the long and low frame and ask my vet about the possibility of the other idea. He is a slow horse to warm up, and yes, does swap off on the lunge (but more frequently just changes his lead completely). He does have a great change, and rarely changes only in front when I ask for a change. I don't think EPM is a problem as his musculater is as even as always, and has improved a bit as we've started doing more hillwork.

          When he's not swapping off he has a great canter, but a horrible trot. My trainer can't understand how the same horse has such a short, choppy trot with a long flowing canter. The trot's improved some since I started with this trainer, but is still very short through the shoulder.


          • #6
            You are going to get a lot of different answers here...and a lot of people are going to tell you your horse is sore. He could be, but Ive experienced this before in very sound horses.

            My older show horse does this constantly on the lunge, or free in the arena. He wont do it undersaddle, as he is fit and trained not to.

            My friends old Jr Hunter used to swap off behind constantly before she became fit and learned to hold her lead - she was 5 when she bought her, and is now 22 and showing in the modified hunters....with no swapping issues!

            Dont mean to say that it isnt a soundness issue, it very well could be, but take responses here with a grain of salt. If he is improving with fitness and training than likely he will keep improving with furthering that. If not, than I would start investigating with the stifles/hocks and go from there. Good luck!!!


            • #7
              Use lateral work such as leg yielding and especially shoulder in to establish a better connection into the outside rein.

              If you have something there you can "press the horse into," you will be able to "hold" the lead.
              The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
              Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
              The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


              • #8
                I have had horses do this do to:

                weakness behind (loin/lower back/stifle)

                hock pain

                one did it when she had a sore front suspensory
                Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


                • #9
                  ditto purplnurpl