Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Bobbing Head when Trotting or at Gait

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 lameness is noticeable at the walk.

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

  • If this seems mild or occasional and the horse seems normal otherwise.

Head bobbing at the trot is a classic sign of lameness. Head bobbing is more noticeable in forelimb lameness but is also seen in many hind limb lameness conditions (although it tends to be inconsistent).

Some sound gaited horses bob their head normally when they are at their classic gait. Without experience, it can be difficult to determine from a head bob whether these horses are lame or not.

WHAT TO DO

If you notice a head bob at the trot, suspect lameness. Start by checking the limbs for swelling, heat or soreness. Always check the lower limbs for digital pulse.

Watch the horse trot on a straight line, as well as in circles to each direction. If you think this might be lameness, call your vet and discuss your findings and concerns. Keep in mind that most lameness originates in the lower limb.

Take a video of the problem and send it to your vet. In most cases, the best you can do for your horse is to have the problem evaluated promptly by a vet. For most lameness conditions, early diagnosis and treatment yields the best prognosis.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet performs a lameness exam to determine the cause of the lameness or gait abnormality.

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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