Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Saw-Horse Stance, Hind Limbs Under & Front Limbs Forward

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If the behavior persists for longer than 30 minutes without an explanation.
  • If the horse is reluctant to move, along with this sign.
  • If the horse seems stiff, or digital pulse is present.

Each horse is unique in terms of its posture and conformation. However, this “rocked back” stance is usually seen in horses experiencing severe pain in the front feet caused by laminitis.

In this stance, (intended to protect very painful front feet), the hind limbs are placed far under the body and the forelimbs placed far forward. A horse will be very reluctant to walk and maintains this awkward posture when walking. When turning to either side, the horse has even greater difficulty putting weight on the inside forelimb.


Perform the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to heart rate and presence or absence of digital pulse. If your horse is exhibiting this behavior suddenly, it is an emergency. Contact your vet immediately.


Your vet recognizes this as a classic sign of laminitis and other bilateral front foot lameness. They will usually rule out laminitis as a cause before looking for other potential causes.

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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