Mississippi 5 year old TWH ridden in med curb, 8in shanks and western,english saddles in arena by experienced rider.

Question: Have had horse barefoot for 3 months due to contracted heel problem. 2 weeks ago had him shod with light plantation shoe on front, was shod by a wellknown gaited horse farrier and am happy with the shoeing. 

My question is, his front end looks great but need to get more depth in back end. What do you suggest that will get him deeper and stiding more smoothly in the rear in? He needs more toe growth, I know this, but want to start conditioning him in the back to develop the muscle groups necessary to carry himself there.

From Panelist Nancy

I believe you are being mislead by the padded horse sore lick way of going.  Those horses walk "deep" and carry more weight in the back because their front feet are so sore that they are trying to carry all their weight on their hind feet and because of this they have to get their hind feet way up under them. My suggestion to you is that you should let your horse walk as nature intended him to.  Also I would suggest that you not have him with long toes and that you have his feet trimmed correctly so that he will have 
healthy feet and legs.

Nancy Cade

From Panelist Theresa

There are several ways to achieve more depth of stride in the back end. To determine which  method to use would depend on the gait the horse is presently doing.

From what you have described here we do not know if the horse is doing a foxtrot type of a gait, a shortened swing pace, or a squarer going trot. If your horse is square going, with a short stride in back, I would examine the use of a heavier shoe on the back with a longer toe lenghth. If his toe is presently short, then you can increase lenght artificially by using a
custom shoe fit forward on the foot, with additional width for support.  If your farrier is a well known gaited farrier, he should know what your talking about when you discuss this with him. This will increase the lift, and therefor increase the ability of the horse to lenghten the hind foot. 

Work at the walk and swing pace with this while your horse builds up her strength in the hind end, while re developing the muscles in the hind end. If your horse is swingy already, but just short in stride, I would continue to pace out the horse for the first fifteen minutes of the ride, and then fall back to a shaker walk (between a dog walk and a flat walk) Gradually work your horse up to longer workouts as his muscles begin to stregthen.


From Panelist Liz


I have found to get more over stride on a horse or to get them to engage the hindquarters the following is a very good exercise.

When you have your horse going at a good flat walk ask for a stop and get it now, not just slow down and then immediately ask for 3 steps backward. use 3 steps every time. As soon as you got your three steps go right back up into the flat walk. This will also improve natural collection of your horse too. The reason for three steps every time is so the horse understands when given the same amount of steps back it will immediately learn that it is to move back forward right out of that . It can take 2-3 days for your horse to fully understand what your are asking from the exercise . Also I recommend when starting
this also work your plain stop and back and stands in the center of the ring for a while so the horse will understand that you are asking for 2 different things and does not think everytime you ask for a back she is to move right back up into the walk. Also when doing the stop, back, stand do different number of steps but the 3. Do 4, 5 even 6 so she can learn the difference. Then over time you can do either exercise any where because she has learned the different number of steps backward mean a difference exercise.

It is my opinion that an 8 inch shank bit is a bit long and more so with doing exercises such ass this,. They can be a lot of unwanted leverage. Try a 4 or 6 inch shank instead or I would even user a snaffle for this myself.

Good question!

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