California 4 year old Missiouri Foxtrotter riden in (colt bit) snaffle with swivel teardrop shanks and western saddle in ring, pastures and trial riding by experianced Rider

Question: My trail broke 4 yr old Missiouri Foxtrotter gelding, which I purchased 3 weeks ago, has been stumbling frequently (a front end "toe-catch" stumble) at a dog walk and at a flat walk over uneven ground and graveley roads. His past owner said he did this also with her on the trail.  I thought it was due to the way she was riding him (without impulsion).  However, when I ride him with leg contact and rein contact, I find he stumbles with me too!  He does'nt pick up his front feet high enough to miss the uneven terrain on the trail.  I make him pay attention to me and not go to sleep while riding him, but I wonder how I can correct his problem of stumbling.  His feet just had a trim and shoeing to shorten his long toes in the front that he had when I bought him, and he still stumbles.  Any advise on how to correct this problem would be appreciated.  Sincerely, Debbie   

From Panelist Nancy

My personal experience with this problem has convinced me that the reason 
these horses stumble is because their toes are too long.  You say that his 
toes were shortened.  Perhaps not enough.  With my own horse, we "squared 
off" the toes.  In other words, they were cut straight across in the front.  
I'm talking about the front feet, of course.  We don't quite square them off 
anymore, but we do keep the toes trimmed very short.  We used the same shoe 
that most of the cutting horses are wearing, which is straight across the toe 
and set back a bit from the toe so that the breakover is further back.  I now 
ride this horse barefoot, but keep the toes trimmed short.  He has never 
stumbled since we started doing his feet this way, but was actually quite 
dangerous to ride before.  Hope this works for you.


From Panelists Laura

You might try working this horse over obstacles, such as poles or cavelleti, 
to teach him to pay attention to where he is putting his feet.  Working him 
over ground poles should teach him to pick his feet up as he walks.  You 
might also have your farrier put a shoe with a rolled toe on him to help him 
break over quicker in the front.


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