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Discussion on Am I a worrier?

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Catherine McCourt
Username: kstud

Post Number: 133
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Sunday, Oct 7, 2007 - 8:47 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Dr O,
As I find it hard to rationally evaluate my own horse could you tell me if I have any reason to worry. My 6yo horse has only been riding 1 year and has excellent feet and is shod well with good heels. He has done very little jumping and no tight circle work and has never been lame in any shape or form. Sometimes he seems to move quite short when trotting on the road but when heading for home he can stride out no problem so that is most likely laziness but the main worry I have is that he really does not like walking downhill on stony or gravelly paths. He is perfect on the level or going up hills but really shortens his stride down hills, and it is noticeable when I hack out with a friend on her very aged pony and my daughter on her pony, they stride out down the hills no problem while he creeps down feeling footy. I changed farrier just in case and have given him more heel support but there is no difference. I know it is not much to work on and maybe he is just wary but I am afraid that he may have navicular, or maybe I am just paranoid. Would this behaviour in the absence of other signs make you think of Navicular? He gets great scores for dressage and I have done a lameness exam which he passed with flying colours.
Thanks Catherine
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Elizabeth Kaufman
Username: ekaufman

Post Number: 94
Registered: 3-2007
Posted on Sunday, Oct 7, 2007 - 11:43 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hey Catherine,

Dr. O will give you a medical view, but from a training perspective, I wonder if your horse just needs a lot more miles on rough ground?

Balancing a rider on a slope is hard, especially downhill, especially if the footing is wonky. Perhaps your horse lacks confidence/experience. Is he turned out on hills? I wouldn't suspect lameness, given your description, unless I first ruled out inexperience and a lack of confidence.

I sure hope that's the explanation, because he sounds like a great prospect.

- Elizabeth
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Username: dro

Post Number: 19323
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Oct 8, 2007 - 6:46 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Catherine,
The only things I know about your horse are what you tell me and therefore if you are a worrier you pass your worries along to me. Let me say:
1) Many horses shorten up on a paved road because metal on asphalt is slippery. Many horses shorten up on a stony path and not because they have navicular disease.
2) Most horses are very concerned about getting home quickly.
3) All horses shorten somewhat going downhill, if they didn't they would topple forward on to their nose. Bigger horses will shorten more than smaller horses and going down hilll gracefully can be a learned experience.

But does your horse do this to an unusual degree because of foot pain that is not obvious during a lameness exam, I cannot know. Chronic pain diseases of the foot are often due to poor conformation to learn more about whether your horse may be predisposed, and whether your horse is balanced see Diseases of Horses » Lameness » Diseases of the Hoof » Navicular Disease / Syndrome. For some ideas on how to differentiate painful from nonpainful conditions see Diseases of Horses » Lameness » Localizing Lameness in the Horse. There is a subtopic on difficult to see or uncertain lameness.
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Vicki Zaneis
Username: vickiann

Post Number: 523
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Monday, Oct 8, 2007 - 12:45 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Catherine -- One of mine went downhill poorly when his feet were not properly balanced and his feet were being over-trimmed, in shoes and out of shoes. Also, I have to wonder about the wisdom of giving more heel support as a way to help this problem.
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Imogen Bertin
Username: imogen

Post Number: 1016
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Monday, Oct 8, 2007 - 2:13 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Catherine - may not be directly relevant but might cheer you up. My 16yo mare has exactly the same symptoms, sound except going downhill, eases out on some initial stiffness towards the end of the ride.

Playing "responsible owner" and not wanting to ride her if I shouldn't, I took her to John Hyde. He told me he'd vet her sound for Goresbridge in the morning but he was only looking at her on flat ground... I felt stupid, it cost me money, and I'm no further on because I know that she is quite lame downhill.

I also know that my 2 yo which I have been leading around the farm on horseback, although generally an agile creature, is definitely quite unbalanced downhill (she is still short in front so care must be taken to let her find her footing on steep ground). And I've ridden as I'm sure you have, some horses that are just fussy about their footing going downhill.

So I'd say hunting will find it out - if he is still slow downhill when everyone else is on the move, there's a problem...

Good luck!

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Catherine McCourt
Username: kstud

Post Number: 134
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Monday, Oct 8, 2007 - 3:03 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks all, I think I am a worrier so I hoof tested him today, trotted him on tight circles on hard ground and raised his toe for a minute or two before trotting him off and he was 100% BUT he still looks sore coming down gravelly hills. I admit that he is still very much on his forehand as he is built that way even though he is a small cobby horse and so it could be poor balance. I will keep you posted and hit the Valium!
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Username: shanson

Post Number: 106
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Monday, Oct 8, 2007 - 4:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Can you post pictures of his feet? Maybe you can get feedback that way on the quality of the farrier work.
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