What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Stumbling, Seems Uncoordinated Under Saddle


Stumbling or tripping under saddle is a fairly common complaint.

It is commonly associated with lameness, but can arise from a wide variety of other causes, including everything from neurologic and visual deficits to discomfort from poor fitting tack, to hoof-related problems. Generally, horses whose conformation causes the flight of the hooves to be near to the ground tend to trip more.

Apparent incoordination under saddle can also relate to a horse's lack of maturity, ability, training, fitness or experience at a given discipline. The rider's balance and cues are also an important factor.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you feel the problem is severe or has come on suddenly.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.

your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), especially looking for lameness, and swellings of the limbs. Assess your saddle fit as well as possible. Watch your horse carefully without a rider up, looking for signs of poor coordination. Have them step over poles and walk up and down an incline to see if they seem to move appropriately. Take videos of them under saddle, and stepping over poles to share with your vet. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet performs physical exam, lameness exam and neurologic exam to rule out physical conditions that are causing the lack of coordination. Depending on the cause determined, the solution may also require input from the farrier or trainer.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Describe the problem to me in greater detail?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • What was the horse doing when you noticed the problem?
  • What kind of riding are you doing with the horse?
  • What is the status of your horse's hoof care and shoeing?
  • Is the problem getting better, staying the same, or worsening?
  • What are the results of a "bute trial"?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
more treatments

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP