RHM Tripping and won't gait.

Kentucky 6 Year Old RMH Gelding. Ridden in hackamore in a western Saddle on trails and in pasture by expert rider.

Question: My Rocky won't gait. He trips over pebbles on the trails, and I've stoped trail riding because I don't want to fall. He is a classic rocky and won't pick up his feet. please give me some advice for him.

From Panelists Laura

Actually, as a "classic" Rocky, your horse should pick up his feet and be fairly sure-footed on the trail.  What gait is your Rocky currently doing? 

It's hard to help you without a little more information as to what he is doing.  Is he trotting or pacing?  When you bounce around is it up & down or side to side?  Sometimes it's hard to tell what gait you're getting while you're riding the horse, so you might have a knowlegable friend watch you ride or possibly tape you so you can see what gait you are getting.  Once you determine which gait the horse prefers, it will be easier to tell you how you might correct it to get a smoother gait.

Problems with stumbling and/or falling can be related to improper angles of the feet, excessive length of the foot, improper shoeing, lack of collection, inattention of the horse, and pain in the horse (teeth, back, hips...).  You might have a vet check him out to see if his stumbling problem is physical.  If so, you can correct the problem from there.  If there isn't a physical problem, then you might work on collecting your horse and teaching him to pay a little more attention to where he is going.  Sometimes, just raising the horse's head up a little (especially when going downhill) is enough to prevent stumbling. 


From Panelists Lee

It is hard to tell what is going on without knowing some more about the horse.  What is he doing -- if he is moving he is using some gait, even if it is not the rack or stepped rack his breed is famous for. Is he trotting?  Is he jogging?  Is he pacing?  The gear he chooses makes a big difference in how you develop an easy gait.

If he is tripping, he may have too long front toes and too short heels -- if that is the case, have him reshod to his natural angle, probably a higher one than he is currently wearing. 

He also appears not to be paying much attention to where he is going  -- work in a walk over low poles spaced at uneven distances can help with this.  It may also be time to put him in a bit -- start in a snaffle and teach him to work with his body together (not strung out and lazy)  with light even contact.  This may also help wake him up so he notices where his hooves are going. 

Work on a good, fast flat walk in the snaffle, keeping his attention on what he is doing. When you have established that (and it may take a while)  then you can go on to developing an easy intermediate gait.

Lee Ziegler

From Panelists Nancy

I have experienced what you are going through, and I know it's no fun to ride a horse that you expect to fall at any time.  The cure, in my case, was very simple.  Have your farrier really shorten those toes on the front feet. 
Also, be sure he leaves a little heel, as some farriers seem to cut the heels so short that the horse is walking on the bulbs of his heels.  For a while we were even using square toed shoes, set back on the foot.  I understand the cutting horse people are mainly using those square toed shoes on their horses.  This horse has been barefoot for a long time now and the problem has never reoccurred.  That took care of the problem for me and I have never had the problem since, as we make sure that all toes are kept short!  I believe it should do the job.


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