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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, my five year old quarter horse stumbles/trips frequently and has even fallen down twice in the year that I’ve had him. He fell once while having his front foot picked in the cross ties and once at show while we were waiting for our division. We were walking he put his head down to smell poop or something and fell to his knees. Both of these things my trainer dismissed as him being young, lazy, and not paying attention to what he was doing. This is the first horse that I’ve owned but have been taking lessons since I was ten and I’ve never had a horse fall doing either of these things in the past. He also trips/stumbles a lot while at the trot and canter. When I first bought him my trainer blamed it on hind end weakness from being out of shape. And he was out of shape and he does trip less now that he is in better shape but it does happen more than I would consider normal. Anyway, my trainer had me convinced it was nothing to worry about but he had his spring shots and whatnot today and I mentioned it to the vet and she was like yeah that’s not normal and I’ll have to come back and do a lameness assessment on him. Anyway, since I’m impatient does anyone know what might be causing this. He doesn’t appear lame. I watched a video of us in a lesson a few weeks ago where he tripped/stumbles and was able to get a picture of the trip. What happens in the picture happens a lot at the canter especially in the indoor which my trainer blames on the footing. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling, any advice would be appreciated. And yes I know I’m fat and my position is terrible so if we could just focus on what’s going on with the horse I’d appreciate it. :) Thanks in advance for any help.
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That much tripping is not normal IMO, so I think its good to have your vet out to evaluate. I would worry about neuro issues and also would want to assess his feet. Long toes and/or unbalanced feet can cause tripping.

We have several very knowledgeable feet people on here ( @loosie ), so if you got good pictures of his feet from the side and the front at the level of his hoof while he's standing on a flat surface, I bet they would let you know if they saw any concerns.
 

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I would definitely get your vet to check for wobblers as well because that’s the very first thing that comes to mind with all those symptoms listed. Hopefully it is not that though
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks so much for the advice so far, wobblers sounds terrifying so I definitely hope that’s not it. I’ll put some pictures of him and if you zoom in you can see his feet. He gets them done every five weeks so I don’t they should really ever get too long. When I got him he was being used for reigning so I know the farrier wanted to work on changing the shape of his feet. This pictures are pretty recent so I don’t think the farrier is really changing the shape of his feet anymore. I can get better pics of his feet when I next see him on Monday.
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My mare stumbled and tripped a lot. She has a weak hind end (& have had leg & feet xrays all clear). She's big girl 17hh. Initially once everything was ruled out we began giving her a tap every time she tripped. She's a very looky, distracted horse who gets bored and/or anxious quite fast. Just simply throws herself forward and happy to bash things with her solid feet. Once riding on slippery grass she went down and slid down said hill on her knees, grabbing grass on the way and got up at the bottom just fine >.< Telling her off when she tripped due to "looking over there" eliminated a LOT but it was only when we were certain it was due to distraction.

She also had severe mouth ulcers and until diagnosed/had CT scans for another issue she would carry her head 90 degrees to one side. Unknown if maybe mouth pain would jolt her to stumble before it had progressed (she'd been vetted and her teeth had apparently been "fine"). It resolved around the same time as above so can't clear cut say yay or nay.

Recently she's been tripping a bit and we have moved 24/7 outdoor + lots of rainfall. Thrush and sore heels. Since treating it and dry weather she's fine again went for a lovely long trot today.

One last thing that comes to mind - sometimes when I cantered on her and sat too far back, in the first year of owning her, she would trip/buckle behind. I was unbalanced and she was used to riders that would have a forward seat whereas I was learning just to sit deep. She's very heavy on the front end and it's a work in progress changing the way she moves both on the ground and ridden. Instructor carefully explained all this to me and we approached the issue both practically and empathetically in her training. It was much harder for her then. She also has a stiff hock and sometimes kicks out in a transition on a bend but is fine with consistent work. (Note about hock - its noticeable even when picking her feet, I need to help supple that leg before stretching it out, its also her favourite one to weight bear, resting the other, something else to think about). She was slightly lame on the back end for a bit that first year and I've had several (veterinary qualified) physios out over the time and she usually needs a lot of work on her poll and sacrum areas. It's taken me quite some time, research and plain experience to get to this point. I used to overthink everything but at the end of the day she's a big horse and as long as she's forward, comfortable and not tripping we're all gucci ^>^

One last last thing - when I moved her, her saddle, which I hadn't used in months, pinched BADLY at her wither. That can do it too.

What I'm trying to say is.. my mare stumbled and tripped a lot in a few periods that were resolved. There are so many causes. Feet and physio is where I'd start and working in-hand for the butt end. My vets are quite involved, too. It is NOT normal and very scary. I feel its must be the exact same feeling riding to a fence when you're only 50/50 if the horse will go over or do a dirty stop. It's so hard to relax in canter when you worry for a trip and I feel you :< Hope you figure this out.

It could be wobblers but my own experiences suggest there are other avenues that can also be explored. Good luck :< Hope my word vomit helped a little!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My mare stumbled and tripped a lot. She has a weak hind end (& have had leg & feet xrays all clear). She's big girl 17hh. Initially once everything was ruled out we began giving her a tap every time she tripped. She's a very looky, distracted horse who gets bored and/or anxious quite fast. Just simply throws herself forward and happy to bash things with her solid feet. Once riding on slippery grass she went down and slid down said hill on her knees, grabbing grass on the way and got up at the bottom just fine >.< Telling her off when she tripped due to "looking over there" eliminated a LOT but it was only when we were certain it was due to distraction.

She also had severe mouth ulcers and until diagnosed/had CT scans for another issue she would carry her head 90 degrees to one side. Unknown if maybe mouth pain would jolt her to stumble before it had progressed (she'd been vetted and her teeth had apparently been "fine"). It resolved around the same time as above so can't clear cut say yay or nay.

Recently she's been tripping a bit and we have moved 24/7 outdoor + lots of rainfall. Thrush and sore heels. Since treating it and dry weather she's fine again went for a lovely long trot today.

One last thing that comes to mind - sometimes when I cantered on her and sat too far back, in the first year of owning her, she would trip/buckle behind. I was unbalanced and she was used to riders that would have a forward seat whereas I was learning just to sit deep. She's very heavy on the front end and it's a work in progress changing the way she moves both on the ground and ridden. Instructor carefully explained all this to me and we approached the issue both practically and empathetically in her training. It was much harder for her then. She also has a stiff hock and sometimes kicks out in a transition on a bend but is fine with consistent work. (Note about hock - its noticeable even when picking her feet, I need to help supple that leg before stretching it out, its also her favourite one to weight bear, resting the other, something else to think about). She was slightly lame on the back end for a bit that first year and I've had several (veterinary qualified) physios out over the time and she usually needs a lot of work on her poll and sacrum areas. It's taken me quite some time, research and plain experience to get to this point. I used to overthink everything but at the end of the day she's a big horse and as long as she's forward, comfortable and not tripping we're all gucci ^>^

One last last thing - when I moved her, her saddle, which I hadn't used in months, pinched BADLY at her wither. That can do it too.

What I'm trying to say is.. my mare stumbled and tripped a lot in a few periods that were resolved. There are so many causes. Feet and physio is where I'd start and working in-hand for the butt end. My vets are quite involved, too. It is NOT normal and very scary. I feel its must be the exact same feeling riding to a fence when you're only 50/50 if the horse will go over or do a dirty stop. It's so hard to relax in canter when you worry for a trip and I feel you :< Hope you figure this out.

It could be wobblers but my own experiences suggest there are other avenues that can also be explored. Good luck :< Hope my word vomit helped a little!
Thanks so much for your reply, it makes me feel better. He can be lazy and careless. I know that he gets bored with flat work and I try to change it up as much as possible for him. He will bang into ground poles or just step on them and he’s terrible at bounces. However, once we start jumping he perks right up and will jump a small course 2’ 2’6” no problem. So maybe he really is just bored and lazy but it still concerning. It’ll be interesting to see what the vet says.
I too have noticed that it does it when I’m sitting too heavy on him. As you can probably tell, I’m not the greatest rider. I prefer to light seat but he requires so much leg to keep going sometimes that I find myself sitting in order to push him forward.
Saddle fit was an issue when I first got him. The saddle I had was pinching his shoulders and he was forging a lot. I’ve since gotten him a new saddle and he has stopped forging and the tripping in the front end has gotten significantly better than when I first got him. Although my current saddle fits him, it doesn’t really fit me so I’m still going through the process of finding something that fits is both.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I find it alarming that the trainer would brush this off.
She’s really laid back, and I’m a nervous nelly so I think she tries to not make me too concerned or upset. And sometimes he’s great, but it is concerning that he’s fallen twice and now that see from the video that he’s “knuckling over” in the back it’s concerning.
 

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I definitely do not have as much knowledge as everyone else who's commented (I only started riding/researching about six months ago), but there's a lesson horse at the barn I ride at who trips pretty frequently with one specific foot. One time when I was on her both of her front legs even buckled, although that turned out to be a trip combined with a poorly timed spook- she popped right back up from it. All of the horses at the barn get checked out by the farrier regularly, and this specific horse has been cleared multiple times. She even came back from medical leave one time, completely cleared, and continued to stumble every once in a while. She requires a strong leg to be encouraged to pick up her feet- she's the type to take advantage of any lesson kid who's not riding 100% to her standards.

I suppose I'm just trying to tell you that you're not the only person who experiences their horse tripping all the time ;u;
 

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OK, I was not able to see the video, and yea, young horses will get stumbly and lazy, but what you are describing needs to be addressed. Most likely it is nothing that time will not cure, but if you are a nervous nelly on your horse that could cause problems.

You say the horse perks up over jumping a small course, I'd try anything else to see what else you may find that perks up your horse. Some horses just get bored unless they are doing what seems fun to them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK, I was not able to see the video, and yea, young horses will get stumbly and lazy, but what you are describing needs to be addressed. Most likely it is nothing that time will not cure, but if you are a nervous nelly on your horse that could cause problems.

You say the horse perks up over jumping a small course, I'd try anything else to see what else you may find that perks up your horse. Some horses just get bored unless they are doing what seems fun to them.
I agree, I need to try to do things he finds interesting. He enjoys hacking out around the farm so I try to do that with him once a week weather permitting. And I can only jump in lessons, so I try to work over poles one of the other days of the week. I wish I had access to trails from my barn I think he would like trail riding. I don’t have a trailer so I can’t take him anywhere.

Also, I agree my being a nervous rider has been a problem in the past. I used to ride a lot of OTTBs and my nervous energy didn’t always mix well with them. But my horse is super unbothered by most things and therefore I’m much less nervous riding him. He’s a saint, especially for only being 5. I’m just a worrier in general so when he trips or the two times he fell I get worried something is really wrong with him.
 

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Hi, firstly, couldn't view vid, only still pic, so didn't show anything, besides that you are not fat!!

Yes, kudos for asking the vet & asking other opinions here, as agree fully, it's not normal, not good that your trainer has fobbed it off - young horses can be clumsy or lazy, but they don't trip, let alone fall to their knees frequently due just to that, and he's not even that young anyway.

Could be many things, from if you are seriously imbalanced & all over the place(tho IME you'd have to be pretty bad, esp if he's used to you so should have learned to compensate) or if you're asking a lot more of him than he's physically up to(exhaustion) to hoof, back, or saddle issues, to Lyme's disease or such, or even neuro issues like wobblers.

That you say he 'knuckles over' behind is a bit of a worry. Do you think it's that which is causing him to fall, rather than his front feet? As well as the lameness exam I'd definitely be looking to consult a chiropractic vet also(assuming yours isn't also specialised in bodywork like that).

I wouldn't be riding him till you get it sorted - not only is he likely in pain, but it's also dangerous for you.

Will await hoof pics but first thing, most common reason to my mind(tho I am a hoof care practitioner - a bodyworker may think otherwise...) Is hoof imbalance &/or heel pain. Can't see fronts in first pic cos bell boots, or much detail in second, but in second they look possibly quite upright/high heeled. And hind hooves look quite long in first pic. So all the more reason to think I'll/distorted/weak feet are the cause.

Btw have you tried him in boots, with or without pads, to see if that makes a diff?

*Not that I mean to pass judgement on your farrier in the least - you say he's been 'changing them' so perhaps still very much a 'work in progress' from bad feet to begin with, can take a while. But do keep in mind also that he *might not be doing a good/right job - farriers come in lots of standards! Unfortunately there are a lot of ornary ones - a big reason why I believe it's so important for horse owners to educate themselves on hoof function, balance & health, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hi, firstly, couldn't view vid, only still pic, so didn't show anything, besides that you are not fat!!

Yes, kudos for asking the vet & asking other opinions here, as agree fully, it's not normal, not good that your trainer has fobbed it off - young horses can be clumsy or lazy, but they don't trip, let alone fall to their knees frequently due just to that, and he's not even that young anyway.

Could be many things, from if you are seriously imbalanced & all over the place(tho IME you'd have to be pretty bad, esp if he's used to you so should have learned to compensate) or if you're asking a lot more of him than he's physically up to(exhaustion) to hoof, back, or saddle issues, to Lyme's disease or such, or even neuro issues like wobblers.

That you say he 'knuckles over' behind is a bit of a worry. Do you think it's that which is causing him to fall, rather than his front feet? As well as the lameness exam I'd definitely be looking to consult a chiropractic vet also(assuming yours isn't also specialised in bodywork like that).

I wouldn't be riding him till you get it sorted - not only is he likely in pain, but it's also dangerous for you.

Will await hoof pics but first thing, most common reason to my mind(tho I am a hoof care practitioner - a bodyworker may think otherwise...) Is hoof imbalance &/or heel pain. Can't see fronts in first pic cos bell boots, or much detail in second, but in second they look possibly quite upright/high heeled. And hind hooves look quite long in first pic. So all the more reason to think I'll/distorted/weak feet are the cause.

Btw have you tried him in boots, with or without pads, to see if that makes a diff?

*Not that I mean to pass judgement on your farrier in the least - you say he's been 'changing them' so perhaps still very much a 'work in progress' from bad feet to begin with, can take a while. But do keep in mind also that he *might not be doing a good/right job - farriers come in lots of standards! Unfortunately there are a lot of ornary ones - a big reason why I believe it's so important for horse owners to educate themselves on hoof function, balance & health, etc.
The still shot shows his hind right folded over, I can share the video with you but it happens so fast that I took the still shot to show what must happen when I feel him “give out/trip behind”. And thanks for saying I’m not fat, I just had to throw that I’m not a stick in my original post because I didn’t want to hear that oh maybe you’re too heavy for him. And maybe I am, that’s something worry about every time I ride him or any horse. But my trainer again assures me I’m not and that “he’s built like a tank”. But I know by equestrian standards I don’t have the ideal body.

I agree that his feet look “big/long”. I’ll have to talk to the farrier again. I’m not usually there when he gets done. I trust him to do a good job. He does all the horses in my barn. He did change his shoes the last time because he said he was going thru them too quick and these new shoes would offer more support. I’ll have to talk to him about the tripping and what not. I asked him about the falling down when picking his feet and he said that nothing seems off but my horse does lean on him a lot while he’s getting his feet done. Which he will do with me. Like he expects me to hold him up?!?
 

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That he leans on you might mean it's more of a body issue, but I also strongly recommend you do your research into hoof health yourself, not just trust your farrier - of course, he may well be great, but if you & other horse owners at the barn don't know much yourself, how are you to know? I'd also suggest you consider shoeless - or at least not conventional steel rims, at least until he has healthy feet. IME it's the horses that aren't sound without shoes are those that most need to go without - but that's not to say just barefoot - hoof boots, or something like Easyshoes are a good alternative, and you can add padding if needed.
 

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Oh it’s pretty terrifying when they trip isn’t it? I had a leased 16.2 standby trip go head over heels and land on my whilst out cantering trail! Hopefully a vet check will give you some answers. IMO though you look just a perfect size for riding your horse so don’t let anyone ever body shame you otherwise!
 

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My horse was a diagnosed as a wobbler and tripping and stumbling was a big part of her condition. A really easy way to diagnose a possible wobbling condition is to pick up one of the hind legs and cross it over in front of the other one. If the horse stands there with it's feet crossed, and makes no effort to uncross them, there is a fairly good chance your horse has the spatial awareness problems of a wobbler.
 

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Is your horse tripping on his HIND end or his front feet? Or both? You don't actually specifically say.

For the still photo you posted, when a leg "buckles" like that, the first thing I would check is his STIFLES. X-ray them and ultrasound them. He could have a "catchy" stifle or he could have something much worse (I had a friend who had to put her gelding down due to a congenital and unrideable stifle problem, that 3 vets missed that none of them should have missed).
When they "give out behind" or "step in a hole behind", that's stifles.

If he is tripping on his front feet, sure it could be the trim job. Or he could have heel pain. If his heels hurt, it could be causing him to land toe first, which will make them trip.

Not to be the bearer of super bad news, but I just retired my 10 year old gelding to trail horse status due to a congenital neck issue we just found. I have owned him since he was a 6 month old. He's always been the lazy and laid back type. The type that drags their feet a trips/stumbles a little. I was never too worried about it. He started having various issues, including hind end lameness last year. He's always been a stiff type horse as well. My vet x-rayed his neck last fall and thought there were mild changes but we opted not to do a lot before winter. She found a neck expert this spring and she did not give me good news. My horse has the vertebrae in his neck rotated cranially and sideways, so it is most likely compressing his spinal cord in his neck. I tried neck injections but they have not helped his stiffness.

Remember that lameness does NOT mean they are walking around limping. It just means that something is affecting their way of moving.

Here's a video of him last fall, going through a jumping course. Doesn't look lame, does he? It is so amazing what these animals do for us, despite what they have. His neck issues were causing him to compensate in other ways, as we primarily barrel race, and it made him sore in the hocks and stifles. This is the last barrel run we made last fall, and little did I know it was our last barrel run ever. I can tell he's not moving his hind end right, which is why we stopped after that for the season. He never once refused to go in. He still tried so hard. It just make me think of how many other horses are out there that have similar issues, that their owner doesn't recognize, and the horse tries anyway.

So..... not saying your horse has a horrible neck issue. But tripping is NOT normal. Shame on your trainer for saying that. That really makes me upset. Even out of shape horses don't do that.
 
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I'm going to take a different approach; who's in his pedigree? Does he ever tremble or shiver, but in small areas? Just for giggles, if you haven't already, pull some tail hairs and send them to Animal Genetics for their QH 5 panel diagnostics. I don't think it's HYPP, but sometimes, it is.

Other things your vet will check on; sometimes there's a protozoa or parasite causing issues. EHV-1 and EPM come to mind. Sometimes a worm takes a wrong turn. (because no matter how well ya worm, sometimes one gets by.) One of the TB farms I worked at had a completely off kilter colt. He tripped, staggered, fell, and so on. After months of research it was discovered he had a strongyle in the sheath that contained his spinal cord. Crazy weird, and only found when a spinal tap was done and they got a piece of the worm!

Anyway, good luck, and start with the easiest; feet, lameness issues, pain; and go from there if that doesn't work.
 
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