Kentucky 3 year old  TWH with professional training ridden in snaffle bit with western saddle in pasture and round pen by beginner to intermediate rider.

Question: My 3yo TWH gelding is stumbling.  He didn't seem to do this when I first got him.  It's like he gets excited to keep up with the other horses that he falls all over himself.  I think part of it may be he's not paying attention.  I'm not a good enough rider yet to help him. 

One time he fell completely down after stumbling.  He went down face first and cracked his nose against the crowd. Thank goodnes we were both okay.  He also groans a lot while riding.  And, he eats anything in sight while on the trail and defecates more than other horses while riding.  Here's what usually happens...he slows down going up hill, hanging
his head, then he trys to run down hill to catch up to the other horses.  He stumbles on flat ground too.  When I try to slow him down by bumping the reins, he throws his head
and goes on.

From Panelist Liz

Several things can be happening here or a combo of them. At three they are still growing and having to learn to carry them selves with every growth spurt. Then add the weight of a rider and it's even harder for them. Also a rider can not help if they are not sitting in a balanced non- interfering seat so he has to work harder to carry you to. Also a riders hands using the bit can cause him to be out of balance. Also if he has any sore muscles do to an incorrect fitting saddle or a poor rider can also cause this.

Also the hooves need to be kept trimmed regular as a long foot takes more to pick up and clear the ground with out catching the toe.


From Panelist Carol

Wow, this horse doesn't sound like much fun.  There could be different reasons for his stumbling and I will go through some possibilities.  Please take this problem very seriously as it is very dangerous.  

1)  Has this horse just been taken off of pads?  If so, he could just be readjusting to going flat shod.  Do some longing and ground excercises until he gets used to the change. 

2)Get a really good farrier and /or a vet to give him a going over for any cause of stumbling.  He probably follows a pattern i.e., tripping by dragging a toe or striking the front with the hind. 

3)  If nothing else seems obvious, get the horse tested and /or treated for e.p.m.  This is short for equine protozoal myelitis, a protozoa that affects the spinal cord.  One of the symptoms is stumbling.  It can render the horse useless if not treated. 

Best of luck and do take cautions. 

Carol Camp Tosh

From Panelist Bob Blackwell

It sounds like you have several problems. The stumbling, groaning, and slowing down could be caused from an improperly fitting saddle. Many gaited  horses are hard to fit with western saddles, many are too long and/or too  wide.

Eating while being ridden is, to me, unacceptable behavior. It is an easy  habit for a horse to aquire and a hard one to stop. We retrained a "grass  diver" by useing a quick jerk on the rein, a swift heel to the ribs, and a  sharply spoken NO! Whenever this horse would make a move to grab, we jerked  the rein to turn his head away and kicked the ribs on the side he was going  for, along with the NO. It took a while but it worked. 


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