Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Hind Hoof Swings Outward at Walk or Trot

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If this problem seems severe and has come on suddenly.
  • If this is associated with severe wobbliness and it seems to have just started.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp>101F/38.3C), or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If the problem is subtle or slowly changing.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Horses may do this as a consequence of their conformation, weakness or lameness. If they are reluctant to flex the hind limb, then the only way to advance it may be to swing it outward. For some horses, this may be their “normal way of going” and they may perform fine while moving this way. But this observation is also commonly made in horses affected by neurologic conditions like “Wobbler Syndrome”, and other diseases affecting the spinal cord.

Certain breeds tend to move this way, especially some of the gaited breeds like Tennessee Walking Horses. Shoeing and trimming can also affect the arcs of flight of the feet, contributing to this observation.

WHAT TO DO

Consider the situation. Is this a horse you are planning to purchase? Is this something that you only just noticed? Do you notice other apparent problems with the horse, like stumbling or lameness?

Assess the horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying special attention to the limbs and any signs of weakness or wobbliness. Compare the travel of the hind limbs to one another. Does this seem more obvious on one side or the other?

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

If the problem seems severe or is worsening, your vet will want to perform a physical and neurologic exam, and possibly a lameness exam on the horse. Other diagnostics might be necessary to determine the nature of the underlying problem.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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