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


Hindquarters Seem to Fall Away or Collapse while Ridden


Occasionally, a horse seems to collapse or fall away under saddle while being ridden. This can result from a variety of problems including lameness, neurologic problems, and poor conditioning.

This problem is more common in young horses that are not accustomed to carrying the weight of a rider. A common diagnosis accounting for this observation is intermittent locking of the stifle. This too can relate to lack of muscle tone and conditioning.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you feel the problem is severe or has come on suddenly.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
    • If this has happened more than once and you do not know why.
  • 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.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
more observations

your role


What To Do

Given the nature of this problem and its potential for injury (to you and your horse), you should contact your vet immediately for an evaluation. They can help determine the cause of this observation. Some conditions can be treated. Changes in management and training may improve the signs. In most cases, the goal is to rule out specific diagnoses.

What Not To Do

Do not ride a horse if it you feel it could be unsafe to do so.

your vet's role


For a horse that has a history of falling out or having fallen down, vets try to determine the cause and also whether a horse has sustained additional injuries from the fall. Predicting whether a horse will fall again is hard to do, even with careful veterinary evaluation and diagnostic work.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How old is the horse?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • How long have you noticed this?
  • Have you noticed lameness?
  • Is the horse fit?
  • Do you notice swelling or other problem in the back or limbs?
  • Describe the type of exercise and riding that you do with your horse.
  • Where, geographically, does the horse live?
  • In what geographical regions has the horse lived in the last several years?
  • Do you recall an accident or injury in the horse's history?
  • How much exercise does the horse get in a typical ride or workout?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

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