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


Hind-End Leans or Falls to One Side, One Hind Limb Seems Weak


Horses that are weak on one hind limb will tend to lean the hind-end to that direction when standing. These horses also tend to "crab-walk", an observation that is discussed in a separate record. Horses that lean this way often have difficulty supporting their weight on the weaker limb if the stronger limb is lifted.

This observation is more common in older horses. The most common reason that a horse is weak on one hind limb is neurologic dysfunction in that limb, or spinal cord compression. Pain and chronic lameness can result in this observation as well.

  • 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.
    • 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

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Look carefully at the neck and back for evidence of swelling. Pay special attention to the way the horse moves. Do you notice lameness at the walk or trot? Walk the horse forward and in left and right circles, paying particular attention to their coordination and limb placement. Are they walking forward normally or not?

Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet will evaluate the horse's general health, and seek to rule out neurologic and musculo-skeletal problems.
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?
  • Do you notice any resistance to bearing weight on that limb or other limb during the farrier's visit
  • Do you notice any lameness?
  • Do you notice other signs?
  • 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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP