I recently moved my 8 year old OTTB gelding to a larger facility with a wonderful indoor arena so we could increase our amount of training time. With the rain we've had lately, it's a good thing. I went from riding him 3x per week to 5, and with two different coaches: a jumping coach every Sat and a dressage 101 coach to help with balance. Our discipline is hunter and equitation, but I think dressage fundamentals will help us overall.
Anyway, he has 4 shoes and an excellent farrier and no problem. He has a slightly "clubby" right front, not unusual for OTTBs, but the farrier has him balanced.
Every now and then when I am riding him, especially in the canter, I feel his back end sort of slip out from under him, then he recollects and all is fine. It does tend to be on circles when I'm asking for bend. It happens about every other time we ride. He jumps beautifully and no lameness.
I asked someone about the occasional "slippage" feeling and she said he may have a hock issue. I never had him xrayed or anything, and he shows no sign of pain. His regular vet hasnt mentioned anything.
My sense is that he is still getting his muscle strength (he's just learned to go on the bit and collect his full frame due to the dressage training) and maybe now and then he slips in the back due to a strength issue. If its that, it should improve over time.
If its not that, what sort of "hock thing" could it be and how do I find out?
Anybody experience this?
I have an older mare who does that same thing if allowed to get strung out. She also had partial paralysis due to suspected West Nile (though vaccinated) years ago. I suspect that in your horse's case it is a strength issue & will improve.
I've had young ones do that at the start of training too.
I would think that a stifle issue would be more likely than a hock issue.
Is he collected while you're riding, though? If not, this may be the problem, as he can't balance when not carrying himself correctly.
We had an OTTB gelding that was doing something similar. My daughter had gotten him for Pony Club, and we didn't notice the issue until winter when we stayed in the indoor. It was very subtle at first, and showed in the circles. She said he felt like his leg was "sinking into sand". LOL, she was 13 so I guess that is the best she could describe it. He would trot out of it though. The Pony Club trainer that was working with her thought he had a little arthritis in the hock, but that didn't quite seem right as his hind end just seemed to dip down. Anyway, the vet confirmed it as a stifle. I am trying to remember, but seems like the ligaments were stretched. I would probably have him checked. We gave Toby to a lower level Pony Clubber who was only going over cross rails and he did fine for her, but in two years since he is now a light trail horse. We had another OTTB mare that had a stifle locking, and it was cured with lots of trotting hills. :) Hopefully it is just a balance issue!
Thanks that is really helpful. When his vet comes next month I will ask her to check his hocks and stifles. Does anyone know what that "check" would consist of? Are there tests she can do without xrays?
He doesnt do it often, but it feels like he just slips a little in the back. He's learning how to collect now and we are using figure 8s to strengthen him, so hopefully its part of his conditioning and getting his balance. The footing is good and even so I dont think that's a problem. Someone else told me that hill work would help him get stronger in the back.
Probably start with a flexion/lameness exam and go from there.
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