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Why Does My Horse Stumble
 By Winniefield Park   •   24th Nov 2017   •   944 views   •   0 comments


We all stumble sometimes, and thatís perfectly normal. So it follows that our horses are going to take a misstep now and then. They have twice as many legs as we do after all. The occasional trip up isnít something to be worried about. But, if a horse stumbles often, there is probably a reason behind it that isnít just about a moment of sloppy footwork. Stumbling is a problem that needs to be solved because it can put you in a dangerous spot when you ride. You donít want your horse stumbling just as it approaches a jump. If youíre trail riding, you want a horse that is sure-footed for the safest ride. A stumble is all it took for dressage rider Courtney King-Dye to fall and receive a life-changing head injury.

If your horse is very young, and youíve just started riding it, stumbling isnít uncommon. A young horse isnít as strong or balanced as a horse that knows how to carry a rider. Young horses trip because they are having a hard time adjusting to carrying themselves, and a rider at the same time. Time and careful conditioning will help this with this problem.

This is true of horses that are mature, but out of condition. An older horse may know how to carry itself, but if it gets tired, it might start tripping. My own horse, at the end of a schooling session, will start stumbling in the hind end as her muscles get fatigued. A horse that is unmotivated might stumble too, and will need to be kept moving forward and picking up its feet.

Conformation has a big effect on how your horse travels. Horses that dish, or paddle because theyíre legs arenít straight may stumble because of it. Although you canít change a mature horseís conformation, your farrier may be able to help you out a little, with balanced trims and sensible shoeing that can help your horse travel straighter. Itís important to keep these horses fit and carrying its rider well.

Saddle fit can affect a lot of things, and your horseís way of going is one of them. A horse that is girthed very tightly, or is very uncomfortable because the saddle fits poorly may stumble frequently. If your horse is hollowing out its back to get away from pain, or holding itself stiffly in any way it will affect how it travels.

The rider can cause a horse to stumble too. A rider that causes that horse to travel inverted - with its back hollowed out and head up means the horse isnít able to balance itself well. Or a rider that is unbalanced can cause a horse to stumble. A few lessons can help a rider figure out how to help their horse carry them with more ease.

Wearing shoes that are too big can cause anyone to trip. So keep your horseís hooves trimmed so their toes donít get too long. A balanced trim will help keep a horse from tripping over their own feet. Changes in farrier work can cause problems too, such as a change in the angles your horse is trimmed at, and the type and weight of shoes the horse is wearing

There are a few physical problems a horse can develop that may make it stumble frequently. A horse that is losing its eyesight may stumble more often. Eyesight problems might stem from cataracts, Ďmoon blindnessí, infections and other things that affect eye health.

Stumbling can be one of the symptoms of a disease like arthritis and navicular, and conditions like ring bone or side bones. Or, neurological conditions like wobbler syndrome and EPM can cause tripping too. Sweeny, a condition more often seen in driving horses than riding horses, causes muscle atrophy under pressure points caused by the harness. This can lead to vague lameness and tripping.
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