Strange skip in trot - help!

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27 July 2020
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My 11 year old WB has developed strange skip in his trot for the last couple of months. Ultrasound of his legs is good, hock x-rays are clear and front fetlocks/hooves x-rays are clear. He is willing to work, full of energy, trots forward. But sometimes he would add an odd hop or skip in trot, like he would jump to canter (but doesn’t). It happens many times during the ride(5-15), and happens when he is going in straight lines. He does it out of blue. He lifts his neck and head and skips and then just goes on like nothing happened. Sometimes he can trot for 5 minutes (circles, changes, straight) and go forward and on the bit, and then suddenly he just skips. He is currently in medium/light work due to this issue. He lifts his head up when the right front hits the ground and before he lands on the right hind his head and neck are in the air, like he takes all the weight to left hind before landing on right hind. Or it could be the right front. He really engages himself over the poles for example, no skip/hop, and then when going around the arena he just skips. My vet said he is a huge horse (around 175cm tall) that needs to be in constant work, and says it might resolve when the horse gets fit. So no lameness, just a strange skip here and there, any clues? Any experiences and/or help appreciated!
 

Gloi

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Thank you soo much! We sort of think it is not his hocks, because flexions are negative, and x-rays clear, but yeah maybe something higher up, like stifle/patella or SI.. I read a good article about skipping in trot. Called proximal patellar hesitation. It is just like I’m reading about my boy. http://www.atlantaequine.com/pages/client_lib_thoracicskip.html
That's an interesting article. My pony does this but it doesn't worry me because he is gaited and it is just one of the many varieties of things he throws at me. To get him out of it I concentrate on him working down onto the bit and lifting his back, which helps keeping his trot clean. Interesting you say he's fine over poles because mine never does it over poles or if he is working in deeper going or long grass.
 
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That's an interesting article. My pony does this but it doesn't worry me because he is gaited and it is just one of the many varieties of things he throws at me. To get him out of it I concentrate on him working down onto the bit and lifting his back, which helps keeping his trot clean. Interesting you say he's fine over poles because mine never does it over poles or if he is working in deeper going or long grass.
Yeah, saamee! When he gets down on the bit and collects it is much less observable. I’m just afraid I’ll make it worse with work, like it would turn into constant limp.. :/
 

Nudibranch

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I tend to regret buying such a big horse sometimes. :( How did you treat his issues and did it eventually resolve?
It didn't, which is why I didn't include any further info I'm afraid. We tried a few things, mostly medicating joints, time off, etc, but there were too many issues in too many places which don't respond well like SI and neck. He was pts at 7. He is the last big horse I will have. They're just not meant to be that size.
 

Gloi

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Yeah, saamee! When he gets down on the bit and collects it is much less observable. I’m just afraid I’ll make it worse with work, like it would turn into constant limp.. :/
It's the hollowing as he tries to pace that causes mine to do that. To do it he needs to change the tension in his back muscles so maybe that may be somewhere to look for a problem if he's just started doing it.
 

tiga71

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My old boy used to do that when I first got him. He is 15.1 cob but I got him at 11 and he had been in a field for about 5 years. Got him from a rescue but he was born there from rescued mare in foal so knew his history.

It started about 8 months after I got him, first 4 months I just did longreining as he was too fat for a saddle, then started having lessons and hacking him. It was about 4/5 months after starting him back in ridden work. Got vet and he said it could take 6 months to get to bottom of as could be anywhere behind. I asked if I could get osteo to look at him. She came and straight away said stifle. Probably had injured stifle at some stage in the past and compensated as not doing any work. Now in work, it gradually got harder to compensate. He was actually sore all through his ribs and back from trying to compensate.

He had treatment every 10 days for about 6 weeks as he was so sore she couldn't do a lot at once. When it eased off, I had to walk him over shavings bales in hand to get him to lift his back legs properly, lots of hacking in straight lines and then hill work and pole work (straight). He came good and he only ever had another hoppy episode, after I had been away for a month and he was on holidays. Came good after couple of weeks.

He is 22 now and still in full work, jumping every other week, pleasure rides etc. But he must be kept in proper work to keep the muscles round his stifle strong and tight. He is also better kept out as much as possible so only come in for 6 hours in the day. Sorry, I can't remember what is actually wrong with his stifle in a technical sense, I call it his dodgy stifle.
 
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It didn't, which is why I didn't include any further info I'm afraid. We tried a few things, mostly medicating joints, time off, etc, but there were too many issues in too many places which don't respond well like SI and neck. He was pts at 7. He is the last big horse I will have. They're just not meant to be that size.
So sorry about your horse. I’m thinking the same thing right now, no more big horses. As he feels so good, I hope that if he does get retired from competing, he can still enjoy the rest of his life as a horse. :/
 
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@tiga71 That is quite a positive story about your horse! Kind of gives me hope and it totally fits in this article I read about proximal patellar hesitation. Thank you for taking your time to write such a good post and explain it all. I’m waiting for a chiropractor to come and look at him, but due to this whole corona thing, he is unable to. :(
 
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It's the hollowing as he tries to pace that causes mine to do that. To do it he needs to change the tension in his back muscles so maybe that may be somewhere to look for a problem if he's just started doing it.
Just saw this. Yeah, but still when he’s on the bit it is still present, I feel abnormal shoulder movement, but the head stays down. It is so annoying. :/
 

tiga71

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@tiga71 That is quite a positive story about your horse! Kind of gives me hope and it totally fits in this article I read about proximal patellar hesitation. Thank you for taking your time to write such a good post and explain it all. I’m waiting for a chiropractor to come and look at him, but due to this whole corona thing, he is unable to. :(
My osteo has been allowed to treat horses for a good while now. They don't let you hold the horse and wear gloves etc. I would try to find an osteo or chiro that is happy to work.
 
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My osteo has been allowed to treat horses for a good while now. They don't let you hold the horse and wear gloves etc. I would try to find an osteo or chiro that is happy to work.
My chiro usually comes from another state, so it is a bit complicated, and he comes out three times a year. But I’ll look into other options. Not many options where I live though..
 
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