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2-yr-old trouble with tight circle

I have done a pre purchase exam on a 2 year old, everything was fine except he didn’t seem to understand the concept of walking in a tight circle and didn’t consistently cross his legs in the turn. He initially just didn’t want to move. There is no indication that there is anything else wrong, he backs up normally with his head raised, does not stumble or drag his toes or otherwise look uncoordinated, does perfect carrot stretches and there is not pain or reaction to palpation of the neck. The vet did not feel that there was anything seriously wrong with the horse but she said it wasn’t completely normal. Have any of you with young horses seen this? Wondering if it could just be a young horse thing?

It does sound odd, and not good. I have never known a young horse who was unable to navigate a small circle. Was the horse tense, and not used to being handled?

Did the vet do a full Neuro exam including backing up a hill and tail pull?

Horses have to be trained to walk in a tight circle and cross their legs. There are 2 mistakes horses make when asked for a tight circle - they can back up while turning, crossing the moving leg behind the stationary leg or they cross correctly at first but get confused and cross behind.

If the horse hasn’t been taught how to do a tight turn I wouldn’t be too concerned.

Since I haven’t seen the horse you should call and ask the vet what she saw exactly and whether it seemed concerning.


A video would be really useful, for the reasons 4horses mentioned. Properly (from the biomechanics perspective of how we want them to move) crossing the front legs, outside over inside, isn’t an inherently natural movement - they tend to just side-step, or even shift back and put the outside leg behind the inside.

The How of how he was asked to do this matter too, as if the handler is standing too close to the shoulder, or the horse simply doesn’t actually understand more than basic leading, and asks him to move away, the horse - especially a young one who is potentially in an unbalanced growth stage, may walk backwards a bit, or shift his weight back, or side-step

If you can at least describe what he DID do, that might offer insight.

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Thank you for the responses. Unfortunately there is no video, wishing I had !

Initially when turning a tight circle would pivot on the LH limb, going left; was able to cross over with both hind limbs but circumducts with the outside limb, left circle consistently seems to be more difficult than the right. Backs up normally, tail tone normal. Report says tail pull normal to R but weak to left (didn’t see this performed so not sure when it was done and not sure what that means). On the lunge he mildly circumducts with the outside (RH) limb, seems generally weaker throughout the RH. Canters ok left, weaker going R. Canter just recently introduced on lunge.

The horse has not been in regular work and appears to be going through a growth phase. There is no evidence of stumbling or toe dragging or anything else that would make neurologic ds suspect. I’m not looking for a diagnosis, just wondered if it may be possible for him to be a little unbalanced on a tight turn as he hasn’t been worked or handled that much and is 2 1/2. I also am not sure if some of the issue is understanding what was being asked. I have never looked at a horse this young before and would appreciate some input from those that have more experience :slight_smile:

Irrespective of how much he’s been worked, it is entirely possible for a 2 1/2yo to be unbalanced due to growth, especially if he’s just been in a growth spurt, or he’s a big guy for his age, and since they all have a better direction, that imbalance can exacerbate that

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