Signs of pain

EQUUS - - Eq Consultant­s -

Q:I have an 11-year-old Quar­ter Horse who has some issues un­der sad­dle as well as with the han­dling of his back feet. He seems stiff and un­com­fort­able when his feet are be­ing lifted to shoe or pick. Un­der sad­dle he walks and tran­si­tions into a trot but does a rock­ing horse buck when asked to can­ter. He does none of this when I longe him un­der sad­dle. Any ad­vice?

Name with­held by re­quest

A:It is pos­si­ble this is a be­hav­ior is­sue, but that would be the last di­ag­no­sis I would con­sider. I be­lieve this sounds much more like a horse who is try­ing to tell you that some­thing hurts.

Lift­ing a leg to clean or shoe the foot cer­tainly puts strain on po­ten­tially sore joints. The pain could orig­i­nate any­where from the pastern up to the spine and sacroil­iac joint, but the hocks are a com­mon site. In my prac­tice it is not un­com­mon for the far­rier to tell me the horse is de­vel­op­ing sore hocks be­fore the rider is aware of it.

The buck­ing when you are rid­ing ver­sus longe­ing sounds, again, like

your horse is try­ing to tell you that he’s in pain---and in this case your weight makes it worse. He seems to be a very benev­o­lent horse if he only does the “rock­ing horse buck” in­stead of try­ing harder to get rid of the weight that is hurt­ing him.

I would sug­gest hav­ing your vet­eri­nar­ian ex­am­ine this horse for signs of pain in the back or hind limbs be­fore you at­tempt any re­train­ing. Bruce A. Con­nally, DVM, MS Wy­oming Equine Long­mont, Colorado

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