Why is my mini horse occasionally dragging his hind hoof?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by SteffieInMN, Oct 31, 2007.

  1. SteffieInMN

    SteffieInMN In the Brooder

    Sep 18, 2007
    He's a 6-month old miniature horse we've had for about 2 months. Nice little guy - was really wormy when we got him so I had the vet out and had him looked at. He's since gained well, is nice and energetic, coat is filling in nicely. Anyway, I don't think that's related to the foot dragging, but what do I know.
    We've seen it 3 or so times in the past 3 or so weeks... he will drag his left rear hoof as he's walking around. Is it just b/c he's got a rock in there or something? This morning, for example, he was doing it when we went out to feed first thing. I checked him out thoroughly - no scrapes, scratches, anything at all. I cleaned out his feet, and it was just the usual gunk. Maybe a small rock? But then he was doing it again around noon, and NOT doing it at 5 pm.
    I'm stumped. I am planning to have him gelded in the next several weeks (vet said after the worming has subsided), so I can at least get his opinion, but thought I'd check here first to see if this is common or not. I googled "horse dragging hoof" and there are all kinds of bizarre explanations.
  2. DoctorGoose

    DoctorGoose Songster

    Jul 27, 2007
    He's got a sticky stifle. Our stallion gets this occasionally. If he can't get it undone, you'll have to pull his leg up and reposition his kneecap. Basically, the tendon supporting the knee cap is too long or too short and it gets stuck underneath the patella. It's not bad, just strange.
  3. SteffieInMN

    SteffieInMN In the Brooder

    Sep 18, 2007
    wow...that's interesting. is there anything I need to do over the long run for that?
    Thanks for your response - it makes me feel better. He wasn't doing it this morning. Is it weather-affected at all? Our nights are below freezing now.
  4. k625

    k625 Songster

    Aug 14, 2007
    Alot of people have the stifle injected, thats up to you. Its always an argue on if its good to do regulatory injections or not. The pony I learned to ride on is now close to 30 and has her hocks, and stifle injected for the last 15 years at least. With constant work, or regular work outs...that seems to work well to. My trainers horse Lazarus, is like 6, and he has stifle issues, but when hes under training often hes fine, but every now and then hes a little sticky too. I would just speak with your vet and do some reasarch, and see how that goes.
  5. DoctorGoose

    DoctorGoose Songster

    Jul 27, 2007
    It's weather affected; exercise affected, trimming/shoeing affected...besides the cortisone injection, they can also do surgery. But, like I said, it's not really bad, just strange and sometimes annoying.
  6. nccatnip

    nccatnip Songster

    Aug 5, 2007
    Piedmont area NC
    Quote:I think if you keep his weight under control, if it is a stiffle issue, it should be easy to deal with.
  7. Wynette

    Wynette Crowing

    Sep 25, 2007
    I had a mare with a stifle issue that I rode; she was jumped a bit before I got her, and that's what caused (we think) the stifle issue. She'd be okay for awhile, then start to drag a hind foot. I'd have to get off, and back her up several long strides, and she'd be okay for awhile. This worked for probably a year or so, then it got bad enough that she couldn't be ridden and we chose to let her live our her life as a "pasture ornament" (vet said it's not that painful). Good luck! There is a surgery to fix it if it's a stifle locking, but it's expensive.
  8. helmstead

    helmstead Songster

    Mar 12, 2007
    Alfordsville, IN
    All of these sound like good bets to me. Still, you should have your vet evaluate the entire leg from the hip down to be sure. Luckily, minis aren't expected to actually work unless they're cart horses, so it shouldn't be of much issue.

    Has your colt already dropped? Many minis (from what I understand) drop late. My colt, for instance, didn't drop until he was around 18 months. I'm sure you don't want your vet to have to "go fishing"...
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Agree on the value of a vet workup.

    If it IS a locking stifle (which is pretty distinctive), though, there are kind of two different ways you could go, given that this is a mini.

    First, there are exercises that, done properly, can help muscle up the upper hindleg to the point where the muscles keep the patella better in place. A number of them can be done on a leadline. They would include things like a SLOW GRADUAL GENTLE program of backing-up type exercise, plus simply more exercise in general. You want to avoid longeing and fast roundpen type work.

    OTOH, a lot of horses with only intermittant problems with their stifle locking up are not really bothered by it, as such, if they are just idle. So if your mini doesn't seem upset or inconvenienced by it and you're not highly interested in learning enough in-hand work and conditioning type stuff to try to "fit him out of it", it isn't unreasonable to just let it be. For a few horses it seems to be just a growth phase, anyhow -- as the muscles, ligaments and bones change their relative size, the condition sometimes just goes away anyhow.

    Good luck,

  10. newchickowner

    newchickowner Songster

    Aug 19, 2007
    I was going to say what patandchickens was going to say, so I'll just reinforce what she's said.

    He's still young so it may just be a growth problem that will work out as he matures, I would consult your vet, but really I'd give him a chance to grow up fully before doing any surgeries or injections. You could further hamper the way he'll move when he is mature.

    Also backing up is a great excercise, not only to strengthen his ligaments, but when you see his leg dragging, back him up gently and slowly and it should help him to pop it into place. It is temporary, he may drag it later in the day, but you're trying to strengthen the leg, so persistance is the key. And if he's not going to do any competing when he's full grown and it doesn't bother him, then you shouldn't need to inject the joint or do surgeries. Again, consult your vet though, it's always a great plan to have your vet on the same page as you and up to date with the health of your animals. Also, you say it's intermittant so try not to worry about it to much. Just do the gentle back up excercises, and with time it may disappear completely. To him it's more annoying than pain of any kind.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2007

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