Gait analysis is another important part of a
thorough Equine Evaluation.
Watching a horse move gives you a lot of
insight into where the problem could be coming
However, horses tend to compensate very well
being a four legged animal. Quite often, the real
problem will lie in another area of the body.
I will try to give you a few examples. Keep in
mind though that these are only a few
possiblities and not a complete list.
Examples of Gait Analysis Problems:
A horse trying to take the weight off of the front right leg would probably try to take the weight off
of it by putting more weight on the opposite hind - being the back left. This is not an always but
it is very common.
A horse with a problem in his back may actually be experiencing problems in his hind end.
He could be trying to "duck" from under a saddle that fits poorly.
Possibly, his rider is not very experienced and is causing tension in the horse's neck by pulling
heavily on the bit. The horse will raise his head to avoid the bit - this causes the back to lower
and cause tension and pain.
Put on your investigator hat and get to work.
What do you look for in a Gait Analysis?
Watch the horse move loose, if possible. Longeing a horse is a good way to see problems since putting a horse
on a circle tends to exaggerate the problem. Make them go both directions.
You will be looking for whether or not the horse is
tracking evenly left and right. Is he rotating any of his
legs as he moves. Does he hesitate when he pushes
off from a standing position? Does he drag his toes?
Does he lift his legs evenly, or does one come higher
than the other? Check this in knees and hocks. Does
he lean more to one side than the other? Is he
obviously 'off', or is it subtle?
Watch for how the horse is carrying himself. Does he
seem bent to the wrong direction? He could be trying
to keep weight off of a leg. Is he able to pick up both
leads equally, or does one seem to be harder for
him? Are his haunches falling in or out of the circle?
Stand behind the horse as someone else leads them away. Do his buttocks seem even? Or is one higher than
the other? Does there seem to be a rhythm to his gait?
Now, stand in front of the horse as someone else leads them toward you. Do his shoulders seem to move
freely? Does he carry his head off to one side? Watch his head movement. Is he bobbing it too much?
If you think the problem could be due to the rider, watch the rider work with the horse. Try to make the same
observations as above, except this time watch to see if the rider could be the cause.
Maybe the horse doesn't have any of these problems and you just want to use therapy for prevention. Good for
you. Equine massage and other alternative equine therapies are great at preventing your horse from acquiring
repetitive stress problems.
As they say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a
pound of cure."
But, if you have noticed a problem, you will want
to continue on to the next page:
Structural Faults to Look for During
an Equine Evaluation
Information presented is for educational purposes only and is not intended
to replace professional opinions or recommendations.
Consult your veterinarian for advice about any medical condition or
treatment needed for your horse