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colt stiff to right; what's the prognosis?

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  • colt stiff to right; what's the prognosis?

    I've been riding an almost 3 year old colt for almost a year. He's a tall leggy quarter horse with cutting and western pleasure breeding. He's a very nice colt overall; not overly athletic but very trainable.

    The biggest problem with this colt is that he is stiff to the right. And it seems I am constantly working on this. Whenever we circle to the right, he wants to lift his head and flatten his back. Even doing ground work, he will left lope little circles around me. But not to the right. When I turn him around to the right, he wants to straighten his neck and tip his nose to the left. I have found that the thing that works best for this is a little touch with my right spur. But the problem is that I have to work on this so much.

    He is still very young and growing and still has a LOT of filling out to do. Am I or someone going to have to continue working on this for the rest of his life? Do really GOOD horses ever start out really one-sided? Or are most GOOD horses almost naturally ambidextrous?

    Oh yes. This colt's feet are trimmed and in good shape. He has very good feet. And, I started this colt in a snaffle but have him in a bosal now.

  • #2
    Have you had a chiropractor look at him? I think you should. He or she can give you an idea if this youngster needs adjustments or if his conformation is just going to be stiff to the right.

    It's possible he got a pasture injury that no one knows about. They do a lot of stupid things when they are babies!

    Reread your post...he sounds very uncomfortable going right. Please have him looked at.
    Ride like you mean it.


    • Original Poster

      I have thought of having a chiro check him out and will probably do that. Thanks.


      • #4
        I would recomend getting his teeth checked. Some horses will brace in one direction due to a tooth issue, and he's a the right age to have some growth related teeth problems.


        • #5
          This is true too. I was having a bit of problem with my horse going right. He needed a tooth done (previous 'dentist' was not a good one so just because they've been done doesn't mean THEY'VE BEEN DONE). AND he needed an adjustment in his neck. No problems after those two things were resolved.

          Originally posted by aqhadreamer View Post
          I would recomend getting his teeth checked. Some horses will brace in one direction due to a tooth issue, and he's a the right age to have some growth related teeth problems.
          Ride like you mean it.


          • #6
            You need a diagnosis before you can have a prognosis.
            McDowell Racing Stables

            Home Away From Home


            • #7
              I agree with the others. Have him checked out by a good chiropractor and get his teeth checked. If you've been working on the stiffness for some time with no improvement, it's likely a pain issue. You might also have a general lameness workup done on him. Sometimes hock or stifle soreness or other injury can cause one-sidedness.

              Generally, I find that if a horse is healthy, proper riding and exercise will vastly improve stiffness, but issues caused by pain do not get better, and often get worse. Best of luck.


              • #8
                How much work has this horse had? You've been riding a rising three year old for nearly a year, so you started him when he was just two, or just shy of two?

                It might just be too much, too soon. Especially so since you describe him as tall, leggy and immature.

                If you want to continue to work him, I'd have the vet out for a full lameness workup. Another alternative would be to turn him out for 6 months or more to let him grow up a bit, and see what you have then.

                The mouth should be addressed regardless, to pull the wolf teeth and look for any caps that haven't shed.


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks everyone! Not sure if everyone noted that I am riding him with a bosal. But he's still stiff in his body. He's trying, because I can easily move his head to the right with a loose, indirect rein (even w/ the bosal), but it seems there's stiffness through his through one of his shoulders. He looks to the right, just like he's supposed to do.

                  Simkie; He's a 2/10 colt and I started saddling and walking and trotting him a little last Feb. Since then he's probably had about six months off. He hasn't been overidden. You probably wouldn't call him leggy either actually, he's a big, stout colt.

                  I have checked his teeth really good several times and there just aren't any sharp edges at all. He never mouthed the bit when I had him in the snaffle. Will have to check on his wolf teeth, I'm not sure whether they're coming in or not. I will definitely have his teeth checked and done before I go back to the snaffle.

                  The vet and farrier say he's sound. Will check on a chiro, because I just think there's something going on with him.



                  • Original Poster

                    And I agree that turning him out to grow up a little might be just what he needs!


                    • #11
                      No one mentioned saddle fit. Babies change so much in their backs. What fit last year, this spring compared to now just may not fit well.

                      My AQHA mare had poor saddle fit issues when I got her. She was 11 at the time, but very lean and had been working hard for a living. She had several large white spots.

                      I put her into a much wider saddle and less than a year later, that saddle was pinching her. Put her in a wider saddle, but the pommel clearance at the base of her withers was too narrow, even though it fit in the shoulders.

                      I went to a wide Cactus barrel saddle while having a custom wade made. She grew out of the Cactus 7 inch gullet FQHB saddle in less than six months. The new saddle fits beautifully with lots of room for muscle development. I also had to get a new dressage saddle, the one I had was really wide, but too "A" shaped for her back.

                      So, make sure there is plenty of clearance down the gullet all the way to the back of the saddle. A lot of horses are pinched at the base of the withers. Also, that the saddle doesn't ride forward and pinch the shoulders.

                      If a mature horse can change this much with proper riding and saddle fit, a baby would need to be checked even more often.

                      Ditto on the dental work, especially on the incisors in the front how they line up and slide side to side. A horse can't take contact easily if they can't slide their front teeth properly, that would cause them to gape their mouths.

                      Good luck.


                      • Original Poster

                        thanks craz! Yes I wish it were saddle fit. LOL.


                        • #13
                          I don't think riding in the hackamore changes much, except that I wouldn't have moved the colt out of the snaffle if I was having stiffness problems. I find I have much more control of the shoulders and can do a lot more gymnastic bending with a snaffle. The introduction of indirect pressure with a hackamore can confuse a horse that is having problems.

                          Even though you don't have metal in the mouth, dental problems can show up with a hackamore when the cheeks get pushed against the teeth, or if the colt is just uncomfortable in the mouth, in general.

                          I think all the advice stays the same. The only way I imagine turnout is going to help, is if the colt has some sort of subtle lameness that's going to heal while he's turned out. Turn out won't hurt, but if it's a chiropractic, dental or more serious lameness issue, it will show back up when you start riding again. If you're thinking of giving the colt some time off, get the chiropractic and vet exams done first, so the the colt can heal up in the body during his time off, that way he should be ready to go again when you put him back in work.


                          • #14
                            You're getting excellent advice, here, rtph. Just wanted to add that I had my gelding's saddle fit checked in December 2011 by the best fitter in the area. I thought I was good to go for another year. My horse, however, had lost some muscle behind his right shoulder, probably due to a deep digital flexor tendon tear the year before. He was ready to go back to work but that atrophied muscle had yet to come back.

                            Weelll, by mid-summer 2012, Figs started showing slight indications that all was not right. Less forward, reluctant to bend. I picked up a wider saddle and had my fitter check the horse and both his saddles. Yes, he'd regained the muscles behind the right shoulder and then some -- so his original saddle was TIGHT! Fortunately, I made the right call with the new wider saddle. A few tweaks in the flocking for a perfect fit and Figgy's happy again.

                            So do check fit. It may be remedied by something as simple as a thinner saddle pad or a change in the rigging. Some horses prefer a center or three-quarter rigged saddle to a full rig.


                            • Original Poster

                              Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions and advice.

                              I was just going to do some ground work today. But he was kicking and bucking and seemed to feel so great that I just decided to ride him a little. In a snaffle. I been thinking about this, and remember someone saying, “when you run into a problem you need to slow down, and back up.” And to go back to basics and see where the horse is having problems.

                              I still intend to follow up on the chiro and dental. And I know two very well known dentists in this area (we are fortunate about that). As to saddle fit, me and everyone else thinks it’s about perfect.

                              Anyway he was stiff to the right. Something I already dealt with when he was in a snaffle before. When trotting slow on a loose rein, he wants to have a left bend in his body. We been through this before he started the bosal. I just had to repeatedly turn my right toe out and threaten him to keep him either straight or to bent to the right. I rode him bent to the right so much, straight lines, circles, squares, that he was trotting straight. After about 3 weeks in the bosal, looks like he’s a lefty again.

                              At the end of the day today, after some haunches-ins and leg yields, he was back to trotting circles and squares to the right and was pretty supple. He was relaxed so I guess this is what we need to do for a little while. Something he can do well. Maybe I need to lower my expectations a little and help him more with the snaffle.

                              Thanks again everyone!