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Tip of the Week


Why do Horses Trip?Why do Horses Trip?

There isn’t enough room in a short tip to go into all the possible causes of tripping in any detail. Suffice it to say, any physical and neurological conditions that affect motion can contribute to tripping.

If your horse is tripping “more than normal” a thorough veterinary physical exam focusing on lameness and the horse’s neurological state is warranted.

All lameness issues will change how a horse moves his entire body, not just the affected leg(s). While navicular syndrome and caudal heel pain will often increase tripping, so can arthritis in the leg or even in the horse’s neck.

Muscle, tendon, and/or ligament injuries should also be considered a possible cause. A poor fitting saddle could be impinging the shoulders or crushing the withers (which is part of the spine). Dental issues that affect the TMJ (temporal mandibular joint) can interfere with the horse’s proprioception (nervous system’s knowledge of where the body and limbs are in 3 dimensional space) and can contribute to tripping and other subtle neurological deficits.

Of course, other neurological disorders can cause tripping, such as EPM (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis), WNV (West Nile Virus), Herpes, Viral Encephalitis (EEE, WEE, VEE, Sleeping Sickness), Wobblers (Cervical Vertebral Instability), and many more. The horse’s hooves may be too long or imbalanced and a good trim or shoeing may resolve the tripping. Keep in mind that some horses are just too lazy to pick their feet up more than they have to, so they trip more often. These horses may benefit from trotting cavaletti poles to ‘learn’ where their feet are and to pick them up.

This tip was brought to you by KAM Animal Services, home of KAM’s “Equine Learning Circle” FREE webinars, which take place monthly. These webinars are an expansion of KAM’s weekly tips. Go to www.kamanimalservices.com  to sign up for the next webinar. The FREE webinars will conclude with a question and answer session, so be ready with your nutrition questions.