Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Choppy or Short Gait, Short-Strided

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

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

  • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.
  • If you wonder whether limitations on your horse's performance could relate to lameness.

A short choppy gait can be a consequence of a horse’s conformation, which directly determines their way of moving. Importantly, however, it also can result from lameness, especially lameness in multiple limbs.

Horses that are sore backed or experiencing pain or discomfort in more than one limb do not always show obvious signs of lameness. Instead the gait may just seem short, stiff or choppy. Muscle pain and even abdominal pain can also cause a horse to move stiffly.


Consider whether this problem in gait is something new or is your horse’s normal “way of going”. Consider the horse’s conformation. How would you describe it? Assess the horse carefully, paying particular attention to feet, limbs and back. Feel for heat and digital pulse.

Turn the horse sharply on a hard surface. Reluctance to turning might indicate foot soreness or lameness in general. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.


Your vet will likely need to evaluate the horse in order to understand whether the problem is a conformational one or relates to pain.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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