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


Hind Hoof Slaps Down to Ground at Front Extent of Stride


The "goose step" is a name given to a particular marching step that originated in Germany in the 18th Century and is still used in some military ceremonies today. In this step, the knee is kept straight while the foot is raised high and then slapped to the ground.

Likewise, goose-stepping is also used to describe horses that move their hind limb in an abnormal way, usually due to injury and mechanical limitation of movement. In classic cases, this gait is usually caused by injury to the hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh, an condition called Fibrotic Myopathy. Other injuries can cause a similar gait, but when I see this goose-step gait, I evaluate the hamstring area first.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you are considering purchase, be sure to have a purchase exam performed.
    • If you want information on how to manage horses of this conformation to reduce the likelihood of lameness.
    • To ensure a correct diagnosis, have your vet examine the horse.
  • Code Green

    Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources
    • If you want information on how to manage horses of this conformation to reduce the likelihood of lameness.

your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's movement at the walk and trot. Always assess the affected hind limb, looking for swelling, heat or digital pulse. Particularly in this case, assess the round contour of the the rear of the limb. Look for swelling or indentation. Compare that area carefully to the same area of the opposite limb. Feel the area deeply with your fingertips.

In chronic cases, you will often feel a "rod" or hard structure within the tissues - scar tissue. In recent injuries, the horse may resent pressure there, so be careful. Rest the horse until you have a plan. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet pays particular attention to the hamstring area but conducts a thorough lameness exam too. Many other conditions cause severe shortening of hind limb gait and these need to be ruled out because they will be treated very differently than fibrotic myopathy.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Do you notice any lameness?
  • What type of riding is the horse used for?
  • Have you noticed any other problems like tripping or poor performance?
  • Do you perceive that your horse is performing at his peak?
  • Do you think this condition affects the horse's performance?

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP