Your Guide to Equine Health Care

What’s Causing Lateral Resistance in My Quarter Horse?

A horse appears healthy and sidepasses well to the right, but not to the left. Could he be in pain? A sports medicine practitioner shares his thoughts.

lateral resistance in a quarter horse
Ask your veterinarian to conduct a lameness that includes both ridden and in-hand evaluations, as some issues only become apparent when the horse is under saddle. | Photo: The Horse Staff

Q.I have a 13-year-old Quarter Horse gelding that is in good health, and he is usually a pleasure to ride. He does extremely well with movement one direction, such as sidepassing to the right, but he seems very uncomfortable when I have him sidepass to the left. I was wondering if there could be some physical problem causing him pain that makes him reluctant to move to the left?

Via e-mail

A.This is a great question. It brings up the concept that we must always rule out a medical issue as a base for behavioral issues. That is always a challenge as horses are, I believe, much smarter than many of us give them credit for, and they can quickly learn avoidance

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Richard Markell, DVM, of Encinitas, Calif., has been the official vet at four World Cup show jumping and dressage finals, treating vet at two Olympic Games trials, and has a client list of many celebrity and Olympic horses worldwide. His practice, Ranch and Coast Equine, is limited to sport horses. He and his wife, Kristin, have a son, Henry, and the Markell menagerie includes two horses, a Miniature Donkey, two dogs, a guinea pig, and a gecko.

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