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hey everyone I'm new to this forum but I have a question about the horse that I'm currently leasing.

So I've been riding English and western now for 14 years. last year I co-boarded my first horse who was a fantastic barrel horse. unfortunately his owner had to move him to another barn and I was no longer a co-boarder. I began looking for a new horse to co-board or lease. I was looking for something calm and fun to ride as I'm not a competitive rider anymore. I had difficulty finding a western horse in the area but eventually did find a 13 year old quarter horse. who is pretty much bomb proof and he's an absolute gentleman. The owner of the barn I ride at thought he was a good match for me and she had just recently bought him back from a home that was using him way to much.

The back story of this horse was, he was ridden from a very young age and trained in western pleasure. he was ridden for many years in a saddle that did not fit him properly and now has a permanent limp in his step. mostly coming from his right shoulder and a little on his left. I leased him because I only ride about once a week doing just flat work and I was told that he is rideable. Mostly at trot but can do some loping/canter work.

However I'm scared that I am causing him pain. I'm not even sure what type of injury he has as the barn owner doesn't exactly know either.. some days you can't tell he has a limp and others he looks dead lame. He seems to enjoy his riding. his ears are always perked forward. he seems very eager to do his job. He has his little hyper moments especially when he gets to ride outside the arena.

I would just like to know what your thoughts/ opinions on riding a horse who has this permanent limp. and am curious if anyone would have any idea exactly how the Ill fitting saddle damaged him. and if there is anything that can be done to help this problem.

currently I stretch his front legs before I hop on him. We have a long warm up at the walk. He has received massage therapy in the past.

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I would not ride any horse who seems lame...

Currently I'm waiting on surgery for my knee, and while I wait I am getting pains in the other knee, and am having treatment on my back, because I am walking crooked.

The point is that lame steps cause issues all over!

Poor horse needs a vet check to see what his issue is, then a plan of action drawn up to either fix him, or decide that he just needs to be a lawn ornament
 

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Ditto Golden Horse but to reiterate, no riding until the vet examines him, and if the vet is not a chiropractor, I would also have an equine chiro examine him.

You would be surprised what can be done to make the horse sound again. I have a 22 yr old horse with a fractured sacrum, torn tendons on the front, and founder from insulin resistance. Believe it or not, the chiro and a great farrier keep him sound enough for light and short rides. Were it not for both of them, he probably would be eight feet under.
 

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You need to know exactly what the problem is. There are some horses who are permanently lame and still rideable with care. Arthritis is a common one. Just taking an owner's word for it that they're fine is not enough if their words aren't directly from the vet.
 

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Are you sure it's in the shoulder and not the hoof? Could be navicular. Does he limp more on the turns?


It all depends on what is wrong with the horse. If it's arthritis then riding him lightly could be good for him. If it's an untreated injury - it could be more.

How do you know the saddle didn't fit when he was younger? Someone told you that or just assumed.

Truthfully the owner should have ht horse vetted to find out what's wrong with the horse.
 

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I have ridden horses who had a permanent limp from a injury healed.
Vetted and vetted again top to bottom and no pain was involved nor a issue anymore but a limp existed still.
One horse had one leg shorter than the other...
You could not leave a hoof that long safely to "even" out the difference in height...yes it was that noticeable but there was no pain but a short leg so...a limp.
I have also ridden a horse who had their ankle medically fused after a injury.
Once healed no pain and the horse loved to go, but because of the fusion a limp.
Neither horse was in pain, but both were watched carefully and fully vetted and reason known as to why they limped.

To just ride a horse that limped without that knowledge of pain, healed or healing injury, ongoing muscle, tendon or bone changes happening....
Put bluntly, I value my hide more than to sit astride a horse with a noticeable hitch in the gait and not know if a catastrophic failure of the body was taking place...that could risk my life and safety besides that of the horse.
No, without true knowledge of what is happening, disclosed to me that safe to ride...my feet would also be firmly planted on the ground.
I would not accept a "guesstimate" by the owner. Either they know or they don't.
:runninghorse2:....
 

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Put bluntly, I value my hide more than to sit astride a horse with a noticeable hitch in the gait and not know if a catastrophic failure of the body was taking place
...that could risk my life and safety besides that of the horse.
No, without true knowledge of what is happening, disclosed to me that safe to ride...my feet would also be firmly planted on the ground.
I would not accept a "guesstimate" by the owner. Either they know or they don't.
:runninghorse2:....
Well put ----I regret I didn't think of it---- you need to remember that nifty little catch phrase:)
 
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Poor horse! I value *their* hide enough that I wouldn't ride either. Not blaming you OP, if you don't know better, but good on you for asking elsewhere, when it obviously didn't feel right to you when told the horse was OK. Unfortunately, if you're not the owner, you probably can't do anything to help the horse, but at least aren't being a part of his suffering if you don't ride him.

So is the BO the horse's owner? If not, has the owner had a vet/bodyworker diagnose it's issues? Or is everyone just guessing? As HLG has outlined, there is the odd horse that is lame & not in pain. There are also situations where the horse may be in mild pain but it's better with regular exercise, such as some forms of arthritis. But these cases aren't the norm, and even then, I'd only be riding those horses under vet's guidance.

So... if the owner HAS had the horse fully diagnosed & is being treated, and you speak to the vet who's been seeing him & get the go ahead, THEN it might be OK to ride this horse lightly.

If the damage IS in his shoulders & IS from a badly fitting saddle when young, I imagine it was a VERY badly fitting saddle & he was ridden in it for some time, causing significant damage which would have later ossified. But of course that's pure speculation. I think other injury is more likely.
 

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Our horse Darcy had a limp, sometimes barely noticeable and other times it was bad. We didn't ride him for about 6 mos and almost retired him. But we had an equine chiro come up (who is also our vet) and also put him on a supplement and now he is sound as a bell. we gave him Previcox too. But another thing we did was stopped a bad habit he had picked up about kicking the stall door for attention. We had to shut his stall window until he relearned not to do that anymore. It wasn't an issue in the barn we were at before because there were stall gates, so he would just paw the ground for attention. But when we moved to a new barn, the doors were a HARD pine and I actually saw him kick the stall door (for attention) and hold his foot up for a minute and sure enough, he was terribly lame that day. I think it was a combo of things, but the stall door kicking exacerbated his soreness. So between the three things we did, he is doing great, no soreness in 6 months and feels good.
 

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Lameness = pain response because something is wrong. I am not comfortable making a lame horse work, no matter how "mild" the lameness or "easy" the work. There is a BIG difference between a lame or arthritic horse wandering the pasture vs being forced to cart around the constantly shifting weight of a rider.
 

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However I'm scared that I am causing him pain. I'm not even sure what type of injury he has as the barn owner doesn't exactly know either..
Bottom line is this horse needs a full lameness workup with a good quality vet to figure out EXACTLY what is going on. It's not fair to the horse.

A horse doesn't limp for no reason (99% of the time). They limp because something is uncomfortable or it hurts. I cannot fathom how an ill-fitting saddle would permanently cause a limp that comes and goes in severity, so I would bet that something else is going on.
 

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When you use the word lame you are talking pain. A limp doesn't always mean pain - however you don't want to assume that this is a mechanical issue such as loss of movement.


As I said before - if it's an arthritis type of issue the vet may very well suggest light riding. Movement is good for arthritis. But if it's a navicular type of situation then the sooner it is diagnosed - the better off the horse is because treatment can be started. Sometimes it's a simple process.


It could be so many things though, the best thing for the owner to do would be ask for a lameness exam and then if nothing is seen with a simple flexion type of test then x-rays should be requested. So the owner is looking at anywhere from $100 - $500 for the exam.
 
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