"Rope walking" down hills - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 09-10-2014, 01:46 AM Thread Starter
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"Rope walking" down hills

I noticed this summer than my horse is "rope walking" with his front feet while going down hills (crossing his feet as though walking on a rope). I don't think he did this last year, and at first I thought it was him trying to get to the side of the trail to get at plants growing there. But even when I focused on keeping him centered on the trail, it kind of felt like he was "drunk."

I had DH watch and he described what was going on. So I tried without his hoof boots (new this year; last year he was shod in front) and then without any tack and just leading him, and he does it consistently even if the hill isn't all that steep. He's hesitant to go down the hills to begin with, then kind of wanders all over the place as he makes his way down.

On flat ground and going up hills he doesn't have any issues. He doesn't normally track closely, doesn't hit himself with his hooves or anything like that.

I spoke to my vet (didn't have an exam done, just spoke with her) and she didn't have any specific ideas about what could be causing it. She mentioned a recent study that found that arthritis in the elbow is nearly ubiquitous in ridden and driven horses (here's an article I found on it: Revealed: the Common Equine Arthritis You Won’t Read About in Textbooks - The Horse's Back) , and that is a potential cause. Unfortunately, if that's it then there's really nothing I can do as joint injections are not routinely done on the elbow (apparently very difficult to do there)

To my knowledge my horse has never been ridden hard; I've had him for two and a half years, and his previous owner didn't do any high impact or demanding riding with him. For now I've stopped taking him out on trails as I'm concerned for both his comfort and my safety on the downhills.

Has anyone had any similar experience? Any ideas on what could be going on with him?

Here's a video of what he's doing. You can see he's hesitant to walk down at all:

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post #2 of 23 Old 09-10-2014, 02:29 AM
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Glad you mentioned that study. It is of incredible importance, by someone who speaks from a LOT of well educated, hands-on experience. Unfortunately that could well be the problem, tho who knows, without further details. PMing.
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post #3 of 23 Old 09-10-2014, 08:36 AM
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It seems to be mostly the right foot crossing over, he keeps shifting to the left, and looks at the ground a lot. May be something significant in that. Need more coffee.
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post #4 of 23 Old 09-10-2014, 11:16 AM
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Did you send the vet this video? I would get an actual exam done. It's even more concerning to me how he obviously doesn't want to when it's really not that steep a hill.
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post #5 of 23 Old 09-10-2014, 12:44 PM
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Is it my imagination or do both front feet rotate outwards slightly??? also don't know if that would cause or add to the problem with rope walking. Can you get a good barefoot trimmer or farrier to see what they think??
FAy
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post #6 of 23 Old 09-10-2014, 02:34 PM
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Show us his feet. both fronts. these shots Good Hoof Photos - How to take Good Hoof Photos

This looks like heel pain to me.

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post #7 of 23 Old 09-10-2014, 02:35 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squirrelfood View Post
It seems to be mostly the right foot crossing over, he keeps shifting to the left, and looks at the ground a lot. May be something significant in that. Need more coffee.
I suspect the looking at the ground is kind of an evasion to going further- an excuse to stop. He was rooting around a little bit like he was looking for grass, though clearly there's not much of anything on this hill!

He would do something similar while being ridden on the trail but with stopping to munch on the plants on the side of the trail, which is one reason it took me a little while to realize he wasn't just taking advantage of the longer rein he gets when going downhill to snack.

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Originally Posted by Yogiwick View Post
Did you send the vet this video? I would get an actual exam done. It's even more concerning to me how he obviously doesn't want to when it's really not that steep a hill.
I haven't sent it to her, but will show it to her next time I see her (she boards her horse at my barn, so I see her pretty often). I suspect she'll refer me to another vet in the area who is more of a lameness specialist.

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Originally Posted by mslady254 View Post
Is it my imagination or do both front feet rotate outwards slightly??? also don't know if that would cause or add to the problem with rope walking. Can you get a good barefoot trimmer or farrier to see what they think??
FAy
He may toe out ever so slightly (I can take a few photos next time I'm out) but I don't think it's a conformation issue. He doesn't wing in any other time and I'm reasonably certain it's a recent (this year) development. The same farrier has been doing his hooves for ~2 years now, and I believe he does a decent job. I certainly don't know any farriers/trimmers that are better, or they'd be the ones doing his feet!
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post #8 of 23 Old 09-10-2014, 02:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinity3205 View Post
Show us his feet. both fronts. these shots Good Hoof Photos - How to take Good Hoof Photos

This looks like heel pain to me.
He got trimmed yesterday and I took hoof photos, so I'll get those uploaded and share a link later today.

In the meantime, this thread has photos I took a few weeks ago before/after I did a minor trim myself: https://www.horseforum.com/hoof-care/...edback-470290/

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post #9 of 23 Old 09-10-2014, 03:07 PM
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Walks down that hill like a horse with bilateral navicular.
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post #10 of 23 Old 09-10-2014, 03:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinity3205 View Post
Show us his feet. both fronts. these shots Good Hoof Photos - How to take Good Hoof Photos

This looks like heel pain to me.

do you mean like from thrush?

a horse i am riding has been struggling with downhill walking. I thought, from his movements, that it was his hocks, but yesterday he was flex tested and vet says it's his right front fetlock joint.

I wonder if he has heel pain, like you are mentioning, becuae the farrier said he had a bit of deep sulcus thrush. in such a case, walking on flat does not hurt, but downhill does?
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