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Equine Health Resource

Crab Walking or Uneven Tracking

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

    Crab walking refers to movement in which the hind end does not track with the front. It is common in horses with neurologic problems, particularly spinal cord conditions. Typically, the hind limb is weaker on the side to which the hind end moves. You will notice that the horse may have difficulty standing on that limb when the other is raised. The horse will tend to stand leaning to that side as well.

    In my practice, I see this most commonly in old horses that have a presumed but hard-to-diagnose condition causing spinal cord dysfunction. The precise cause of that dysfunction is hard to determine without diagnostics, but includes EPM and spinal compression among others. Horses with certain types of lameness may also crab walk.


    Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and walk your horse forward paying particular attention to what side or limb may be affected and whether the horse is lame. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.


    They may perform a neurologic and lameness exam, which may or may not yield a diagnosis. If not, your vet may recommend additional diagnostics. In many older horses, a precise diagnosis is not sought for financial reasons. In that case, your vet may recommend symptomatic treatment to improve the horse’s quality of life.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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