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


Rushes through Maneuvers or around Obstacles


Horse owners often tell me they did not think their horse was lame because they saw them galloping around the pasture. Lame horses often gallop.

What is much more difficult for lame horses to do is performing precise, controlled or collected maneuvers. Lame performance horses will often rush through maneuvers rather than collecting and engaging properly. This is one more way in which lameness is demonstrated by horses under saddle. Common lameness conditions, especially back pain, may be the cause of this behavior but it may also be a behavioral or training issue.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you want to rule out any physical issue being a factor in the behavior.
    • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
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your role


What To Do

Assess your horse at the walk and the trot for lameness on flat ground. Assess their general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their limbs, feet and back. Look for swelling, response to pain, or any other abnormalities and share your findings and concerns with your vet. Your vet may be able to detect problems that you cannot.

What Not To Do

Do not assume that the horse is not suffering from conditions that cause lameness just because they rush through maneuvers or obstacles.

your vet's role

Your vet will seek to determine whether this behavior is a result of physical or training issues.

I like to study the horse under saddle and observe the behavior myself. I then perform a physical and lameness examination, assess tack fit and examine the horse's back in attempt to rule out common lameness and musculoskeletal problems. Sometimes if I have questions about whether a performance-related problem is caused by pain, I suggest that we perform a bute trial.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What is the horse's exercise and performance history leading up to this?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • When did the horse last perform to your expectations?
  • Does this horse have a history of lameness?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Do you notice any lameness?
  • Have you examined the horse's back and girth and checked saddle fit?
  • Do you notice swelling in the back or anything else that suggests back problems?
  • Do you notice swelling, heat or injury in any of the limbs?
  • Do you notice pain to pressure applied to muscles along the back?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

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

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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
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further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP