Virginia over 12 year old TWH ridden in snaffle tom thumb and  western endurance by beginner rider.

Question: My TWH canters in the front but trots in the  back.  I have been told this is being disunited.  He is flat  shod all around and is on cosequin.  The reshoeing has  helped his going immensely but he can't stay in a walker  walk or run for very long.  We suspect arthritis but we are  unsure without x-rays and no prior knowledge of the horse.



From Panelist Nancy

What is happening is that your horse is half running walk and half cantering.  It is a fairly common fault if a horse has not been held in a good running walk and pushed a little too fast so that he gets in the habit of half cantering and half rw.  It is not really being disunited.  A disunited canter is a canter with the leading leg in front being different from the leading 
leg in back.  Many trail riders seem to allow this fault to develop.  They like to go fast and push their horses too much for too much speed at the rw.  More than the horse can do.  Therefore the horse starts this half cantering gait.  Once the horse gets in this habit, it can be rather hard to break him of it and will take quite a bit of diligent work on your part to undo this.  But it all started because of a prior rider or trainer allowing this habit to 
develop by not riding more carefully and thoughtfully. 

Nancy Cade

From Panelist Erica

You might want to look into a Chiropractor to give you an evaluation of your horse. One of my horses used to trot all the time, once I had him adjusted by the Chiropractor he was gaiting all over the place like he had never trotted a day in his life.

I will assume that you have had a soundness examination done with this horse. If it is indeed arthritis you can look into MSM and Chondroitin supplements. There are also some injectable drugs that will help, I would definitely consult your vet more though for any definite ideas. 

Good luck
Erica Frei

From Panelist Liz

Hi Anne, I think you would be wise to get the x-rays done first to rule out any unsoundness first. I may also have the horses back  and hips checked for be out of alignment too. If all comes back fine then this would be a matter of conditioning and
getting the hindquarters engaged.

Lots of flat walking  and if the horse will do a straight trot I would work this some to the build up the back muscles. Then I would work on the running walk till the horse is strong enough to hold it for 3, 5 minute intervals on a hour ride. Also during your flat walking ask
your horse to stop back three steps and immediately got back in the flat walk this should help get the muscle built up in the hindquarters and get that back end under the horse.
I would then start to work the canter. You may need a 3 foot whip but not to hit the horse, but to touch the horse on the rump so it will get the backend up under it's self while cantering and keep it there.

Give this a try and good luck. I hope it is a simple answer and not one of permanent physical problem 


From Panelist Stella

It sounds as if you did not have a prepurchase exam done when you bought the horse so recently. I think it may be advisable for you to call a veterinarian out, and do such tests as hock flexion, and similar in forelegs, where each leg may be held up for a couple minutes, then the horse asked to go off in an intermediate gait. This generally helps pinpoint which 
leg or area of the body(it can be a corresponding shoulder or hip) the problem may be located in, and that area focused upon; exrays would likely be advisable of a suspect area, but at least it will limit the number of exrays taken.

Generally speaking, horses with some arthritis may start off stiff and reluctant to perform various gaits, but improve with gradual work over a session, and with regular work. Regular light work with a well-planned conservative increase over time helps them reach a good level of performance.

If the shoeing helped, perhaps the problem is there, and usually corrective work takes more than one session with the farrier. However there are other things, such as a previous laminitis, fracture of the pedal bone,navicular disturbance, etc. that may be releived from good shoeing too, not just incorrect angles. Not only for the sake of the horse's comfort, but to prevent any unsuspected condition to worsen to the point of being too late to do much about, makes it a far better choice to invest in having a veterinarian come to check the horse out thoroughly asap. Its also always easier, less expensive and with more positive results to pinpoint and treat a condition as early as possible.


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