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Is my young horse unsound or just weak??

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  • Is my young horse unsound or just weak??

    My coming 4-year-old Haflinger gelding has been so easy to start. He is super smart, very calm and trainable. I started him last Summer and did a bit of hacking through the forest. In the Fall, I started lungeing and long-lining 3x per week, including walking and trotting over poles. He seemed happy & willing.

    In February I started riding him in the arena 3x per week WTC, plus 1 day per week lungeing over raised poles. The Winters are tough here so we weren't able to ride outside at all. He started cross-cantering more on the lunge and under saddle, to the left, so I had the chiropractor, massage therapist and saddle fitter out. No marked soreness or issues were found. His musculature appears to be symmetrical.

    I do think that he bends better to the right, carries with the left hind and pushes with the right hind if that makes sense. In the last week, I noticed he has worn down his hind feet to the white line. I took some video of him lungeing over trotting poles today. The poles are raised 6" on one end (alternate ends).

    I am hoping that those of you who have good eyes can watch the video and comment on what you see? I am not sure If I should have a vet out to do a lameness exam, or a chiropractor, or just keep working him, or something else??? I have had no x-rays or diagnostics done on him. He wasn't dragging his hind toes when I purchased him last Spring. He was shod on all 4 feet and now he is barefoot. I'm not sure if he looks unsound (uneven) or just weak?

    https://youtu.be/ClOOXwaEQEc
    Last edited by twinmommy; Apr. 25, 2019, 09:49 PM.

  • #2
    Well he is moving very under tempo and not tracking up at all.

    I don't like the left hind leg. It looks to me like the hock is not articulating as much as the right leg.

    I would not think being barefoot would matter in a soft arena. I don't see a foot sore horse here, but maybe one with some hock trouble brewing.

    It might be money well spent to get a lameness workup with a good lameness vet, and have some radiographs taken if the vet thinks they see a problem.

    It's also true that a horse that is continuously allowed to move under tempo in a pitty pat trot can end up looking lame, or in fact getting a bit sore. What happens when you ask him to use himself and step under with his hind end?

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree with Scribbler's post.

      I have a horse that will drag himself around like that all day long if allowed and no one tells him to get crackin. Once he is moving forward with power and a good tempo, he doesn't drag his hind end around. He's sound, but also lazy by nature. It sounds as though your horse may also be more on the calm and lazy side, so you may have to wake him up a bit. Usually wearing the toes can be a sign of stifle problems, but he's being worked over poles and seems to pick up his feet ok over them.

      If you have concerns get a lameness work up. I'd also start trying to get him working more forward and in a more constructive manner regarding using himself properly. If he gets using that hind end, the problem could fix itself if there is no underlying issue.

      He looks like a nice horse! Cute and relaxed.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
        Well he is moving very under tempo and not tracking up at all.

        It's also true that a horse that is continuously allowed to move under tempo in a pitty pat trot can end up looking lame, or in fact getting a bit sore. What happens when you ask him to use himself and step under with his hind end?
        I'm definitely not a lameness expert. This is what I wonder as well.

        I actually don't think he looks lame, but will defer to others with more experience. I think he looks lazy (or, under utilized, at any rate). What does he look like when you ask for more impulsion from the hind end?

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thanks so much for the feedback! It's tricky with this guy because he still has a hard time balancing himself when he has more impulsion, although he has improved a lot. He tends to get too quick and hollow. In the video I shared above, I was wanting him to stretch his neck down to go over the poles and he can't do that yet when he's going more forward. I sometimes lunge him with Vienna (running) reins which I think helps him figure out his balance better.

          I don't find him lazy, just young and unbalanced. I try to ride him forward. I do have some video of him under saddle that I'll share, but keep in mind this is his 8th ride ever in an arena, trotting and cantering.

          https://youtu.be/O9_e4iDJTbU


          Last edited by twinmommy; Apr. 23, 2019, 09:04 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Lovely, lovely fella! And I love that he stands at the mounting block so well!

            He doesn't look outright lame, but maybe someone has a better eye than I do. Part of it could be a fitness and strength matter.

            If his hooves are really wearing down badly, I'd get the vet to take a look. Watch him go, look at his hooves (see what the trim/shoe job looks like) and possibly conduct further evaluation depending on what the vet sees.

            I know with young horses it can feel like it's either slow or scrambling in the beginning because impulsion and balance isn't a thing yet. So it's hard to ask for more. His hind end could be more active, but that also will take time and strength.

            Comment


            • #7
              In the under-saddle video, right when he transitions down from canter to trot (~2:20) there are a few trot steps where he is really reaching with his hind end. Here it looks like that left hind isn't flexing under him quite the same as the right.

              I don't have a good eye for lameness though (like at ALL).

              Not to scare you, but I had a similar 'lameness vs weakness' question with a young 5 year old mare several years ago. She was a bit crooked and at the trot swung her right hind outwards ever so slightly in the trot. 3 vets said it was just young horse weakness/crookedness and the best thing to do was work her correctly to build strength.

              6 months later, after working with an osteopath closely for several sessions, it became clear it was more than weakness. Osteopath suspected either SI joint or vertabrae issue in her back - xrays showed early onset kissing spine likely caused by an accident she had as a foal. Vet who did the xrays couldn't believe we were still riding her the deterioration was so bad (her attitude and willingness to work never got beyond being harder to bridle and some head flinging at canter transitions) and even with attempted corrective surgery she never came right.

              This mare was the exception, and I don't tell it to you to scare you but instead to recommend a vet work up but if the vet gives the all clear - continue to monitor and make sure that the problem is correcting itself with proper work.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8


                Thank you CanteringCarrot! Yes, my philosophy is that if they can't stand for you to get on, they aren't ready to be ridden.

                I don't have a lot of faith in vets with subtle issues like this, tbh, which is the main reason I haven't called one yet. EventingMaff, your story sounds very familiar. I have been down similar roads before. It's like they are reading from a veterinary manual on how to do a lameness exam. 1) watch them on the lunge line in both directions WTC, 2) do flexion tests, 3) suggest x-rays for hocks and stifles 4) if x-rays are clean, your job is done. If not, inject hocks and/or stifles and/or SI joint. I had 2 horses in the past that I knew had something going on, but multiple vets told me they were both fine, many times, over 6+ years. Neither was ever outright lame. One had kissing spines and the other had a fractured bone in her pelvis. I wish I could find a great lameness vet, but haven't seen one yet.



                Comment


                • #9
                  Seems like a very sweet-natured guy.

                  I'd agree that in the lunging video he's just under-powered. Even in the undersaddle video, at the trot, there's not a lot of oomph. Nice quiet canter transition, though.

                  I'd be curious about how he is now outside of the indoor arena. I know that you said that you'd ridden him a good deal in the forests before winter set in, and I just wonder if his gaits and his attitude seems more animated when he's outdoors.

                  I'd suspect that he's just under-muscled, and perhaps a little unbalanced, as young horses often are. I think that, if this were my horse, I'd just ride him outdoors at least several times a week, on a loose rein at all gaits.

                  Good luck!
                  "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    A lovely horse and beautifully presented. I would keep an eye on the toe dragging and also on the stifles. Toe dragging could be indicative of some type of neurological issue developing, or it could be part of a stifle or hock issue. I do see reluctance to engage the hindquarters.

                    Of course, as you indicated allowances must be made for a young horse who is learning to balance, but I'd watch those things carefully and I would also observe the horse out at pasture to see if the same issues occur.

                    Do you have an area to take this horse out for unstructured walks and trots? Trails or fields with long, straight areas would be great at developing muscles without lots of circling. If you continue to see the same issues then I'd suspect gonitis or the neurological issue. I would hope it would be neither.

                    Edited to add that I read Posting Trot's contribution after I posted mine.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Yes I have lots of outdoor areas where I can ride, although it has been so wet and muddy this Spring, we have only managed to get out a few times and only at a walk. He does like to GO too, so that definitely will help him! I am hoping it dries up soon. Thank you for the compliments on him! I have been trying to take my time with him and do things properly. It's tough in the Winter because the horses don't get to move around as much and we are usually stuck in the indoor.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        He does look sore to me. I almost thought SI because his walk seemed sore under saddle (I am no lameness expert!) Has he seen a chiro? I had one work a miracle on my horse for body soreness related to a lengthy foot injury.
                        www.abacusfurniture.com

                        Bit Chair: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNfIUYig...bacusfurniture

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Why did you pull his shoes? I’d definitely have a vet take a look, but being footsore can call all sorts of issues higher up.
                          Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Dressagelvr View Post
                            Why did you pull his shoes? I’d definitely have a vet take a look, but being footsore can call all sorts of issues higher up.
                            When I bought him this is what he was doing.

                            https://youtu.be/gk9l1YUX0AA

                            He had 4 shoes on to be driven on the roads. I didn't think he needed shoes for his new lifestyle, especially given that he wasn't even 3 years old yet, so I had them removed when I bought him.

                            Well today I took him in-hand to a nearby dirt road and we did some walking and trotting, including hills. It was fun, and good exercise for both of us! He didn't drag his toes at all and is definitely able to track up at the trot!!
                            Last edited by twinmommy; Apr. 23, 2019, 04:13 PM.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Against*All*Odds View Post
                              Has he seen a chiro? .
                              Yes, I had the Chiro out about a month ago, and the saddle fitter, and 3 sessions of bodywork. I'm hoping that if he was sore in his SI, one of the 3 professionals would have noticed it. I would consider doing a bute trial to see if he moves better, but I always worry about ulcers.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                SI's can be a really fickle thing to deal with without a bone scan.
                                www.abacusfurniture.com

                                Bit Chair: https://www.instagram.com/p/BNfIUYig...bacusfurniture

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I'm glad he showed some impulsion out on the trail. That's really good news.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Against*All*Odds View Post
                                    SI's can be a really fickle thing to deal with without a bone scan.
                                    Ugh, they can be fickle even WITH a bone scan.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I would suggest you get hoof balance xrays.
                                      My mare (Andalusian/QH) moved similarly. She basically drug off the dorsal wall of her back feet...not just her toes. She was weak in the stifles but no actual upward fixation. I got foot balance xrays and she was level but on the farrier board I presented her pics to, they said that would still be considered a negative plane since the angle should be plus 3-4 degrees. Negative plane behind can make them very sore in the hind end...hamstrings and up over the butt. It was suggested that I shoe her with wedges but this mare is a *#%ch to shoe so I tried a Macgyver move and tried wedges in her boots and it worked. Then I worked with my trimmer and she was able to carefully take a bunch of toe from the bottom and it helped immensely. If that hadn’t worked, I would have tranquilizer her and put shoes on her but it wasn’t necessary.

                                      Bottom line (haha) start at the bottom. It is possible he is just young and not strong enough but the toe dragging is telling you something. Good luck. He is a very handsome boy.

                                      Susan

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I'd also do hind hoof xrays to see if with all the wear he's working on a NPA and put shoes back on if necessary. He may not need shoes "to do the job", but he may need shoes to prevent excess wear of the feet. Making sure the angles are right could make all the difference in preventing this from turning into a true lameness as he continues to work more.

                                        If the feet look good, then re: cross cantering, has he had any growth spurt lately? Sometimes when they are going through a growing phase you take an already unbalanced youngster and then make them unbalanced in a new way, and you can get some of the stuff you describe. I'd also think about starting with investigating the left hind and/or SI for a reason for lameness if the feet don't explain things. I agree with others that from time to time I question the left hock, but IME, cross cantering would make a little more sense coming from higher up.

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