Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Rough Gait at the Trot

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • If you want your vet to assess gait and consider options for management.
  • To discuss your equine's general health and management.

A rough gait at the trot is often a consequence of a horse’s conformation, which directly determines their way of moving. Horses with very upright limb conformation, short backs, and short upright pasterns tend to be rough-gaited at the trot.

Importantly, however, a rough gait can also be a result of an attempt to guard painful areas. Horses experiencing pain or discomfort do not always show obvious signs of lameness to the untrained eye. Instead their gait may just seem rough or uneven.


Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), evaluate them for obvious lameness and contact your vet with your findings and concerns.


Your vet will seek to rule out lameness-related causes or other physical causes. Changes to training, conditioning and riding style may also smooth out the gaits and improve the horse’s performance.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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