Your Guide to Equine Health Care

Stumbles and Missteps: What’s Causing Your Horse’s Clumsiness?

Is your horse’s clumsiness a simple matter of long toes and uneven ground, or is a career-limiting condition to blame?

No account yet? Register


Stumbles and Missteps: What
Just like humans, horses can misjudge a step, overlook an obstacle, or simply have a clumsy moment out of distraction or fatigue. | Photo: iStock

Is your horse’s clumsiness a simple matter of long toes and uneven ground, or is a career-limiting condition to blame?

It happens every now and then: A careless misstep or an unexpected surface change causes your horse to crumble a little under you, before he catches himself and keeps going. If you both recover just fine from the blunder, you might laugh and call him clumsy.

That’s when stumbling is okay. “It’s like a human missing a step over a sidewalk crack—it’s not really a big deal in cases like that,” says Amy Johnson, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM (Large Animal and Neurology), assistant professor of large animal medicine and neurology at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, in Kennett Square.

But when it happens again and again, or when it leads to serious falls, stumbling becomes not okay. Often the sign of an underlying orthopedic or neurologic problem, repetitive or severe stumbling can be dangerous for both horse and

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


No account yet? Register

Written by:

Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

This poll is no longer accepting votes

Which hoof problem do you encounter most often in your horses?
342 votes · 342 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!