TWH short steps
 
 

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TWH short steps

This is a discussion on TWH short steps within the Gaited Horses forums, part of the Horse Breeds category
  • Horse takes short steps on soft sand
  • My horse takes short steps with his back legs

 
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    12-11-2010, 11:16 AM
  #1
Foal
TWH short steps

I was wondering if anybody had any opinions or advice. My husband's TWH, Blue, has a problem with getting his back legs under himself. He doesn't overstep at all. When he gaits he just sort of minces along taking very short steps with his back legs. If we try to speed him up, he goes into a very rough, hard pace. I know very little about his history, but was wondering could this be a joint issue? A training issue? A massage therapist worked on him last summer and said he had no soreness anywhere at all.

He gaits a little better in sand than on any other surface. He's 7 years old and has a moderate-sized bump on one fetlock which the farrier says is calcification from an old injury, but he's never limped on it or seemed to favor it that I can tell. I've tried to do some exercises with him to improve flexibility and also am giving him a joint supplement, but nothing seems to make a difference. Thanks for any feedback.
     
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    12-12-2010, 08:59 AM
  #2
Green Broke
The horse is in great discomfort and I would not ride it until it is fixed

When one of my TWH's started short-striding, I knew he'd done a number on himself when his tanker self tried to scale the woven wire and missed, because something scared the bejeezus out of him.

I am fortunate to have a DVM/chiropractor/acupuncturist within driving distance of my farm. It took her two visits to get him back to normal and the last visit included acupuncture.

I said all that to say:

1. The horse's sacrum and maybe even vertebra need help from a qualified chiropractor (believe me they aren't all in the "A" game).

2. I would spend money getting the horse x-rayed to be sure there aren't any fractures, something I did BEFORE I called the chiro. Fortunately I have a traditional vet who was very much in favor of call the chiropractor after he read the x-rays, that didn't show anything.

While more stoic than many breeds, TWH's in particular but gaited horses in general can tell us a lot sooner when something hurts simply because they can't gait properly and will resort to trotting or any other bizarre footfall to get away from the pain.
     
    12-12-2010, 09:56 AM
  #3
Green Broke
I'm not seeing the "edit" button.

I forgot to add to check and be sure the horse isn't full of thrush down in the frogs AND in the sulci.

If it's bad enough, it will hurt the horse to walk. Generally they will hit "toe first" if the issues are really bad and will also hit flat-footed if there's some issues.

Any horse's hooves should hit the ground heel first if their hooves are healthy I've seen horses with major thrush issues that never walked lame/limping, except they hit the ground toe first.
     
    12-13-2010, 04:52 PM
  #4
Foal
Thanks, Walkin. I did wonder about a pain issue, but he seems so relaxed and happy when he isn't trying to gait (whether under saddle or not), and the massage therapist couldn't find any soreness anywhere, that I discounted the idea. It may be worth re-visiting, though. Could he really have so much pain only when gaiting and not at any other gait? I have been thinking for awhile about using a chiropractor to see if some adjustments made any difference.

Where exactly did your vet x-ray? Spine? Hips? The whole leg? Just curious.

His feet are extremely healthy, according to the farrier, and he walks normally, heels hitting first, so I don't think that's an issue.
     
    12-14-2010, 01:37 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkerLady    
Thanks, Walkin. I did wonder about a pain issue, but he seems so relaxed and happy when he isn't trying to gait (whether under saddle or not), and the massage therapist couldn't find any soreness anywhere, that I discounted the idea. It may be worth re-visiting, though. Could he really have so much pain only when gaiting and not at any other gait? I have been thinking for awhile about using a chiropractor to see if some adjustments made any difference.

Where exactly did your vet x-ray? Spine? Hips? The whole leg? Just curious.

His feet are extremely healthy, according to the farrier, and he walks normally, heels hitting first, so I don't think that's an issue.
Unless they also get training in chiropractics, massage therapist aren't always able to spot skeletal problems. Chiropractors know how to do massage, but not all Massage Therapists know the in-depth details of chiropractics

After the vet watched Joker for a bit, he x-rayed the hip, all the way down to the fetlock joint. I think that ended up being six x-rays, which he immediately showed me on his computer. I was amazed it only cost me $178 for those six x-rays

Unless your horse also short strides when he is at liberty in the pasture or round pen, something else before hunting down a chiro or spending money on X-rays to consider is saddle fit. A poorly fitting saddle might be the problem, plus if the saddle is placing the weight of the rider in a bad position could be the cause. If you look at various saddles on-line, the curve of the seat puts the rider in various positions.

I know from reading on other forums that some gaited horses can be like the "Princess and the Pea" fairy tale, meaning if the saddle fit isn't perfect and the rider isn't in correct position, they can't seem to move out freely.
     
    12-16-2010, 10:41 AM
  #6
Foal
Blue never gaits when he's at liberty. If he's in a hurry in the pasture he paces or canters. His stride at these times is very lengthy and easy.

In the round pen I can get him into a gait but he seems to tire very quickly and starts to stumble. It's only at the gait that he short steps and stumbles. That's why I was wondering if he was just never trained to gait properly and didn't develop the correct muscles. I know that gaiting seems to come more easily to some TWH than others.

But I think I will save up some money and start with x-rays and a chiropractor before I put money into a trainer. It could be that he's hurt, untrained, or just doesn't have the conformation to gait well. Seems like it's a mystery I need to solve!
     
    12-16-2010, 11:00 AM
  #7
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by WalkerLady    
Blue never gaits when he's at liberty. If he's in a hurry in the pasture he paces or canters. His stride at these times is very lengthy and easy.

In the round pen I can get him into a gait but he seems to tire very quickly and starts to stumble. It's only at the gait that he short steps and stumbles. That's why I was wondering if he was just never trained to gait properly and didn't develop the correct muscles. I know that gaiting seems to come more easily to some TWH than others.

But I think I will save up some money and start with x-rays and a chiropractor before I put money into a trainer. It could be that he's hurt, untrained, or just doesn't have the conformation to gait well. Seems like it's a mystery I need to solve!
You description (tires very quickly in the round pen) suggests a horse that is weak, out of shape, and doesn't know how to carry itself properly at the gait.

If the conformation of the horse is at least good and there are no clear signs of injury or mal-formation then my first approach would be to improve strength and conditioning.

I'd start with lots of time dog walking. This can be done in the arena or on the trail (the latter being less boring for the person). Start with walking on a loose rein for a couple of weeks, then begin work on a collected walk. The best bit for this kind of work is a snaffle with a mouthpiece comfortable for the horse. After a few weeks add hills. After 8 weeks or so you can begin to add short period at the gait (like maybe a couple of minutes, and maybe even less). Walking will build strength; periods at the gait (and particularly the canter) will build wind. Indeed, in the round pen you can just use the walk and canter and ignore the intermediate gait until more strength and wind are built.

The soft, intermediate gait takes more strength and conditioning that a trot. The only reliable way to improve the soft, intermediate gait is thoughtful work. This presumes, of course, no physiological reason(s) why not (good conformation, good husbandry, good tack selection, good riding habits, etc.).

Keeping a horse in shape for basic work requires work four to five days a week, for a minimum of about 30 min. Per session. No pill, device, adjustment, treatment, or "program" will do.

Put another way, there is just no substitute for "wetting the blanket."

G.
     
    12-16-2010, 11:41 AM
  #8
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guilherme    
You description (tires very quickly in the round pen) suggests a horse that is weak, out of shape, and doesn't know how to carry itself properly at the gait.
G.
Thanks, G. I agree with not knowing how to carry himself properly at the gait, but I don't think he's out of shape. Last summer and fall we did tons of riding, mostly at a fast walk, usually 4 or 5 times a week for anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. The trails we rode were a nice mixture of flat and hills. He never seemed very tired or uncomfortable on these rides, not nearly as much as my 15 yr. Old mare (who was out of shape when I first got her last summer but can a hold a gait for much, much longer than Blue.)

But no matter how much walking we do, no matter how many hills we go up, no matter how many times DH takes him from a fast walk into a gait and then IMMEDIATELY stops him when he starts pacing, his gait just never improves.

I was pretty new to gaited horses when I got him and when his owner took us on a trail ride, I think I somehow mistook his fast walk for a slow gait, and then it never occurred to me that a horse who could do a nice slow gait couldn't do a fast one. I know now that I should have insisted on riding him somewhere where his nose wasn't almost up the lead mare's butt. I should have insisted on setting my own pace at some point and I might have realized that he didn't gait very well. I still don't know nearly enough about the gaited breeds but in trying to correct Blue I have learned a lot, a lot more than I would have if he'd just gaited perfectly from the get go and I hadn't had to do tons of research !

I guess that's why I'm looking at issues like injury, conformation, and a better trainer than me. I feel like I've hit a wall in terms of my own knowledge and experience in trying to correct his gait.
     
    12-16-2010, 06:47 PM
  #9
Green Broke
And a hundred kudos to you for taking all the right approaches in trying to figure Blue out

If Blue is performing his intermediate gait free and fluid at liberty and holding it at liberty for a long period, something has happened to make him short stride when he's being worked.

It could be anything from him hurting himself in the pasture to just being plenty smart enough to have figured out if he short-strides he gets out of work, for the most part.

Many years ago I had just bought a Morab that pulled up lame, after his first few rides, several hay fields over from the house. I practically carried his left leg home he was limping so bad. About 30 minutes after I put him in the pasture, hubby came in laughing and said "I though Fury pulled up lame". I said "he did". Hubby said "better look out the window, that horse doesn't look lame to me", and there was Fury playing, rearing, spinning on that very bad leg for all he was worth.

He pulled that trick on me a few more times (never the same leg) and eventually gave up.

I'd hate to think that is what Blue is doing
     
    12-16-2010, 08:02 PM
  #10
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by walkinthewalk    
If Blue is performing his intermediate gait free and fluid at liberty and holding it at liberty for a long period, something has happened to make him short stride when he's being worked.

He isn't. He doesn't gait at all when he's at liberty. He does either a trot or a pace (haven't figured out which) when he's at liberty. It's probably a pace because I know he doesn't trot under saddle. He will not gait unless he's forced into it and then he can't hold it. In the round pen he will pace/trot and he can hold that forever. He'll canter and hold that fine. He'll fast walk all day long, he'll out-walk everybody, including other TWHs. He just can't seem to gait.
     

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