Your Guide to Equine Health Care

Why Does My Horse Stumble After Jumping?

Find out what a veterinarian might look for when examining a horse that loses his balance after jumping a fence.
Share
ADVERTISEMENT

horse stumbling
A horse with neurologic issues might not know where his feet are upon landing from a jump. | Photo: iStock

Q.I own a 9-year-old Belgian jumper who is starting to lose his balance frequently after jumping. When he lands, he seems to lose his strength on the forehand and looks like he’s stumbling. His jumping technique is also becoming worse. This has been happening for a while now; what kind of exams can I do to be sure everything is okay?

A.There are many potential causes of stumbling and decreased performance over fences, and I do think it’s a reason to call your vet for an evaluation. There may be a musculoskeletal cause, such as sore front feet or a sore low neck (sometimes associated with osteoarthritis), which are frequently found in jumpers. Your veterinarian will likely start with a thorough soundness exam, including flexion tests of the limbs and range-of-motion tests of the neck, to look for any signs of lameness or discomfort. Sometimes diagnostic imaging and targeted therapy, such as a joint injection, may be all that is necessary to resolve the problem. If anything seems out of the ordinary, your vet may want to start with radiographs of any areas of concern. Another diagnostic option for decreased performance that isn’t easily localized is nuclear scintigraphy, commonly referred to as a bone scan. Areas of inflammation appear as “hot spots” that can then be assessed once localized.

Whenever I hear “stumbling” in a horse’s history, however, that raises the question of a potential neurologic abnormality, where your horse may legitimately not quite know where his front feet are upon landing. Neurologic cases can be difficult to diagnose, as some horses only show symptoms while performing specific activities and only on occasion. Again, your veterinarian will perform a thorough exam and some additional tests that are specific to assessing your horse’s neurologic

Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.

TheHorse.com 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 TheHorse.com.

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.

Share

Written by:

Rachel Gottlieb, DVM, is an associate veterinarian at Northwest Equine Performance in Mulino, Oregon, a practice that focuses exclusively on lameness and performance horse issues. She’s also an associate team veterinarian for the United States Eventing Team. Gottlieb is a graduate of the University of California-Davis, where she also completed the Large Animal Ultrasound Fellowship. Gottlieb’s professional interests include sports medicine, musculoskeletal ultrasound, and regenerative therapy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

What health and nutrition concerns are top of mind for you in the winter months?
164 votes · 233 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 TheHorse.com!