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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My kids ride a 19-year-old TWH mare. She doesn't pick up her front feet very well, and sometimes catches the tip of her front hoof (either one) and trips. She's not bad on a smooth surface. The tripping is far worse on uneven terrain, like a field. She's a wonderfully trained horse with a great temperament, so perfect for kids to learn on, but I'd really like to improve the whole tripping thing.

Here's what I know:
-19 years old
-moves a little stiffly now and then - may have a touch of arthritis
-has a history of thrush, but no sign of infection in over a year
-no limping or soreness
-is barefoot - uses the best farrier around
-was used in Big Lick shows when young, and was sored
-Seems to trip less when I ride her than when the owner rides her. I suspect saddle has something to do with it. I use a Passier with short tree-points and a wide gullet. Owner uses a Wintec with long tree-points with a twisted tree so the panel rests on her spine.
-Has had chiropractic adjustment
-Is only ridden in a straight line on a smooth trail. Gets no work in patterns or over obstacles.

Based on this, I suspect that she has some arthritis, easily gets her shoulders impeded by a saddle, and is poorly collected, so she doesn't bother picking up her feet. Any other suggestions?

If my ideas are correct, Id like to do the following with her:
-Give her joint supplementation to help with the arthritis
-Give her saddles with lots of shoulder-room
-Start working her in 60-ft circles, serpentines, and figure 8's to supple her and collect her, then add trot-poles and cavalettis

That's all I've been able to come up with. Am I on the right track? Any other suggestions? Or do you think that she's just ready to be retired? I do hope not - she's so lovely and sweet.
 

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When were her hooves last trimmed? If she's dragging her toes it may be because of them being too long. And it does sound like she may be getting arthritis, my barn owner's mare is 17 and she used to seem sluggish and lazy, but then we found out she had arthritis and now she's on a supplement for it and is doing much better. Maybe talk to the owner about changing saddles for the time being, because it may not help anything if your trying to help her but she's being ridden in a saddle that may hurt her or stress her back. Best of luck, hope I helped! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
When were her hooves last trimmed? If she's dragging her toes it may be because of them being too long. And it does sound like she may be getting arthritis, my barn owner's mare is 17 and she used to seem sluggish and lazy, but then we found out she had arthritis and now she's on a supplement for it and is doing much better. Maybe talk to the owner about changing saddles for the time being, because it may not help anything if your trying to help her but she's being ridden in a saddle that may hurt her or stress her back. Best of luck, hope I helped! :)
Hooves are trimmed every 6 weeks like clockwork. She trips even with a fresh trim. Owner refuses to change out her saddle, but she rarely, if ever, rides her. Wonderful to hear that supplements can really make a difference! How long did it take before you started noticing a change?
 

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If she has arthritis , I would not be doing the cavelletis and lots of arena work. She needs to move over bending / working an arthritic joint is not good.
Also use some liniment. Is this common in horses that have been 'sored' ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
If she has arthritis , I would not be doing the cavelletis and lots of arena work. She needs to move over bending / working an arthritic joint is not good.
Also use some liniment. Is this common in horses that have been 'sored' ?
Is there any kind of work or exercises that can help an arthritic joint?

I have no idea if this is common is sored horses. This is my first exposure to gaited horses/TWH/soring.
 

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Give her Bute for 2 days straight and see how she goes. If there is a marked improvement, it is because she is experiencing less pain and discomfort. If this is the case, I would use one of the injectable Arthritis products like Legend. Start her on a Supplement like Cosamine and it will take over after the first few doses of Legend. Cosamine seems to have the best reviews of all the joint supplements.

If she is the same, it is just her careless way of going. You can try working her slowly on a longe line or in a pen with a lot of low obstacles where she has to learn to watch where she is going. Some horses that are trained and ridden only on very flat arena surfaces have a terrible time learning to look where they are putting their feet. I will also scold them every time they trip. Works on some of them.
 

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My old lady is in her mid to late 30's. She trips when she's not paying attention. Joint supplements and regular trimming made a world of difference for her. This mare is obviously getting regular trims, so I would definitely recommend joint supplements. My mare does great on MSM and HA.

As far as exercises, my mare does best with a long, loose warm up. Once she's loose, warm and stretching out, I start with bending and collection. We do gentle serpentines and circles. Trot poles and cavalettis don't work for my mare at all, they make her sore and stressed because she catches her toes on them. One thing that makes a big difference for my girl is being allowed to stretch herself out at all gaits before being asked for collection. For example, even after a collected walk, I give her a loose rein for the first lap or two of trot. It gives her a chance to stretch her legs and back and loosen up before being asked to carry herself properly.

Out on the trails, my horse trips a ton because she's so excited and distracted. In that situation, I give her reminders to focus with the reins (a twitch here and there) and I steer her around roots and rocks more than I would other horses. I also talk to her the whole time to keep her attention on me. I don't know if that would work for you, but it may be worth a try!

It doesn't sound like this horse is ready to retire, she's still young (in my books)! I would definitely start with the MSM, my mare was successful on that until about 2 years ago when her arthritis kicked up a notch. It's pretty inexpensive, too.

Good luck!
 

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It took a bit of time because the arthritis had really progressed and she was pretty stiff and sore, but with adding the supplement to her feed and starting daily gentle stretching and flexing she's now a heck of a lot better, she gallops around with her pasture mate all the time It took about a month and a half-two months for her to get to where she is now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all the great ideas! I feel so much more optimistic now. She has so much life and so much to offer, and she loves her job. It's great to hear that so many of you are finding ways to keep your horses enjoying their jobs and their rides into their wise-years.
 

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At her age & considering what you've noticed, I think you're on the right track except for doing circles & stuff with her *unless advised by a bodyworker*. Most certainly a well fitting saddle that doesn't pinch her is a start, as well as not over tightening the girth. I'd get a good practitioner to come give her a treatment & advise you whether there's any damage from badly fitting saddles that needs to heal before saddling her again.

Hoof care is probably no 1 issue with tripping - long toes, high heels, thrush or otherwise weak heels, thin soles, etc. I imagine she's a no. 1 candidate for most of those, being a shown TWH who's owners cared to sore her. Dentistry/bit problems can also cause problems such as tripping, not to mention the hands on the reins.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
At her age & considering what you've noticed, I think you're on the right track except for doing circles & stuff with her *unless advised by a bodyworker*. Most certainly a well fitting saddle that doesn't pinch her is a start, as well as not over tightening the girth. I'd get a good practitioner to come give her a treatment & advise you whether there's any damage from badly fitting saddles that needs to heal before saddling her again.

Hoof care is probably no 1 issue with tripping - long toes, high heels, thrush or otherwise weak heels, thin soles, etc. I imagine she's a no. 1 candidate for most of those, being a shown TWH who's owners cared to sore her. Dentistry/bit problems can also cause problems such as tripping, not to mention the hands on the reins.
Thrush - check
Weak heels - check (her thrush was mainly in her heels)
Thin soles - check (Durasole and Keratex have improved this a lot)

Dentistry/bit/hands on reins... interesting. Probably not the problem, since she's been recently floated, and I'm very light on the reins, but I'm very curious. I never would have thought. Will you please elaborate? I assume it has to do with carrying the head in a way to avoid the bit, which then hollows the back and causes poor movement of the legs?
 

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I have found that long toes/low heels adds to tripping, joint pain (try the bute suggestion and supplements), bad saddle fit or position that restricts shoulder movement, not engaging hindquarters or otherwise poor collection or muscle development... She might have any one of these problems..the solution to start with is to try to rule them out one by one. She sounds like she can really benefit from some of the above suggestions by the other posters. This may sound different, but I had been advised in the past to have a dressage trainer come and work with my horse to help him carry himself better since he tripped and was very heavy on the forehand. I was not able to do this but it sounded like a good suggestion.

Hope you can something or a combination of things to help her out :) !
 

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Possibly not related, but my boy does quite a bit of tripping. He drags his feet out of laziness, or so I believe. He was a school horse, and was ridden around in circles for years. When I do anything vaguely similar to that, he gets lazy, so I walk him over obstacles and make him pick them up. I'll also throw in some random circles etc to keep it interesting, and if he trips too badly I'll play a little on the reins to make him pay attention.

Out on the trails, I think he's tripped maybe twice because he's been distracted by horses in paddocks nearby. He loves being out and about, so his laziness disappears completely.

Your mare does sound more of a sore case though. I'm looking forward to hearing what works for you and her, as my boy is getting on in years and I wouldn't be surprised if arthritis started giving him troubles.
 

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Dentistry/bit/hands on reins... interesting. Probably not the problem, since she's been recently floated, and I'm very light on the reins, but I'm very curious. I never would have thought. Will you please elaborate?
Sorry but can't really elaborate, just that I've heard bodyworkers say that jaw/teeth probs can cause stumbling & co ordination issues. Perhaps someone here has more info. But yeah, without more info, I'd be thinking it's not the likeliest answer anyway. Have you tried her in boots, to protect her tender feet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sorry but can't really elaborate, just that I've heard bodyworkers say that jaw/teeth probs can cause stumbling & co ordination issues. Perhaps someone here has more info. But yeah, without more info, I'd be thinking it's not the likeliest answer anyway. Have you tried her in boots, to protect her tender feet?
She doesn't show any tenderness on firm and smooth or soft and smooth surfaces. She is VERY tender on gravel, and we do use boots then. Interesting when you mention it. I don't think she's tripped with me when wearing her boots. I;m going to have to try that test a few more times and see if its consistent.
 

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Just a thought... Big Lick horses are generally trimmed with very long toes, so if the current farrier is still trimming her "like a show horse" or "like a TWH" then long toes are very likely the culprit. If you think this is possible you could take a few pictures and post them here (or in the Hoof Care subforum) to get an opinion. A good side shot of the front hooves from ground level would probably be enough to tell if that's the problem.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just a thought... Big Lick horses are generally trimmed with very long toes, so if the current farrier is still trimming her "like a show horse" or "like a TWH" then long toes are very likely the culprit. If you think this is possible you could take a few pictures and post them here (or in the Hoof Care subforum) to get an opinion. A good side shot of the front hooves from ground level would probably be enough to tell if that's the problem.
I trimmed these pics off of some pictures I had of my daughter riding her. Hope it shows something.
 

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Well, I think it's safe to say that long toes are not part of her problem.

My best guess? It's likely a combination of arthritis and the fact that she was likely never ridden in anything other than an arena for much of her younger life. Like Cherie said, horses only ridden in arenas or nice flat areas with no obstacles often just don't learn how to watch where their feet are at. I can almost always tell the difference between a "flat-land" horse and a horse who's seen some rough country just by the way they handle their feet.

I'd start her on some sort of joint supplement to help with the arthritis, then I'd start working her slowly over rougher country with hills and deadfalls...places where she has to pay attention to her feet.

At her age, she may not improve, but it's worth a shot. She looks like an absolute doll.

Oh, and of course, the ill-fitting tack doesn't help at all. I'd be having a conversation with the owner about her saddle and the effect is has on the mare.
 

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Are there ways to improve tripping?
Long toes, improper shoeing, uneven ground, improper diet, poor health -- lots of ways to "improve tripping." :lol::lol: Sorry, but I couldn't resist -when I read the title I thought, "Why in blazes would anyone want to IMPROVE tripping?"

Good luck, though. There is lots of good, serious advice from people here, so nevermind my sarcasm... treat the arthritis and give her a place to think about where and how she places her feet. If you don't have rough areas available, make some of your own with deadfall, trotting poles, tires... whatever you can find that doesn't have sharp points or places she can get her feet stuck.
 
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