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


Saw-Horse Stance, Hind Limbs Under & Front Limbs Forward


Each horse is unique in terms of its posture and conformation. However, this "rocked back" stance is usually seen in horses experiencing severe pain in the front feet caused by laminitis.

In this stance, (intended to protect very painful front feet), the hind limbs are placed far under the body and the forelimbs placed far forward. A horse will be very reluctant to walk and maintains this awkward posture when walking. When turning to either side, the horse has even greater difficulty putting weight on the inside forelimb.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If the behavior persists for longer than 30 minutes without an explanation.
    • If the horse is reluctant to move, along with this sign.
    • If the horse seems stiff, or digital pulse is present.

your role


What To Do

Perform the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to heart rate and presence or absence of digital pulse. If your horse is exhibiting this behavior suddenly, it is an emergency. Contact your vet immediately.

your vet's role

Your vet recognizes this as a classic sign of laminitis and other bilateral front foot lameness. They will usually rule out laminitis as a cause before looking for other potential causes.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What is the age and breed of the horse?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • What is the horse's Body Condition Score (BCS)?
  • Were the horse's feet trimmed recently?
  • Do you notice any other problems?
  • Have you given your horse any medication?
  • What do you feed the horse?
  • Does the horse have access to green grass?
  • 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