Horse Neck Issues?

I have run out of ideas for my currrent mare as we just started having this problem. If asked to do a haunch turn to the right, she will do it perfectly(within reason lol) and have no hesitations. If asked to do a haunch turn to the left, she will raise her head, stiffen her neck and back up. I can get maybe one or two steps of turn but that is really pushing it. This is new as of this month(September). Haunch trns to the left used to be her best way. She is a mare who will always give 110% so I definitely knew something was off. I took her to the vet 9/12 and she was declared sound and nothing was wrong. She also got PEMF targeting the neck and shoulders as well as massage and kinsio taping last week.

Basic Info:

  • 15 year old AQHA mare, 5 panel negative
  • Got coffin injections 9/2021 and a adaquan series starting 6/22
  • Just had a custom western saddle made for her, back soreness resolved
  • Feet are barefoot and on a 5 week schedule currently
  • She is turned out 24/7 in a 15 acre pasture
  • Grain wise, she is on 1lb of LMF supersupplement, 1lb of LMF Gold, 2 pumps Gut X, 1 scoop tight joints and 2 scoops MagRestore. This is once a day.
  • She has monthly PEMF and massage sessions and I have my own PEMF blanket that I treat with weekly.
  • In light work currently as we have been dealing with wildfire smoke(I am in Western Washington)

I have tried riding her bareback and in a saddle to see if maybe the saddle was not fitting and causing this problem. Same reactions both times. She is fine doing circles and counter arcing to the right and left.

Any ideas of what to try, ask the vet or anything in general? This mare always tries her hardest for me and I try to take care of her best I can but I am genuinly puzzled and dont know what to do at the moment. I am going to the barn later tonight and can get any picures/ videos if need be.


Did you xray her neck? It could just be arthritis/wear and tear catching up to her. Legend or injections might help.

She was just seen by a equine dentist and has great teeth. The vet also checked and he was happy with them.

I asked if we should X-Ray her neck at the appoitment and was told there was no reason to. I will be contacting a second vet for another opinion.

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How does she do if you ask for the haunch turn from the ground?

My first reaction was "have you REALLY prodded the left side of your saddle underneath? Use your fingertips, get deep into the saddle. There may be a wayward nail that was not set right causing irritation.

But I read about it being the same bareback. Maybe she has a problem with a rib? Could be either side depending where you apply the leg aid or if another horse kicked her hard enough to bruise or crack a rib.

The only other thing I could think of is that maybe the horse’s right stifle or hock could be acting up when it tries to cross the other hind leg.

It sure sounds to me like something is hurting her.

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I havent done it from the ground yet, I will do it tonight.

I have checked over my saddle, tried different pads. The whole 9 yards lol. It is very possible that a horse kicked her, we do have a studdy gelding who is really possesive of her in their field at the moment unfortuantly. I have tried pressing and checking along her ribs and so far she hasnt shown any clear signs of pain.

I finally got another vet appointment next tuesday and we are for sure getting neck xrays and possiblely hock xrays.

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I hope you get a quick diagnosis and an effective treatment plan.

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Not that this is her issue…but I think it proves the point of digging deeper and not jumping to assumptions. My 4 yo suddenly got balky and didn’t want to turn left. Lots of diagnostics. He broke the last two ribs on the left side. He does not palpate sore at all…in fact he does the itchy face and loves to be curried hard over where he broke the two ribs. Absolutely no sign of pain palpating the back or ribs. Never had a mark on him and turned out solo. Go figure. We found it from a nuclear scan and confirmed it with ultrasound. Xrays miss most rib fractures that are near the spine.

Again, not saying that is your mare’s issue…but just thought I would share given it’s not a commonly found diagnosis.


I managed to get a few videos of what she is doing. I agree that while some days it may be better, I will definitely keep digging. We have a vet appointment coming up and it is highly recommended around here. I apologize for the crappy inhand turns, I have not done SMS in years lol.

Undersaddle Turns
Right In-hand Turns
Left In-hand Turns

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Has she had a sedated dental exam with a speculum?

Yes she has. That is what was done at the vet in addition the the lameness exam.

Interesting. Turn on the haunches asks the horse to take weight behind while lifting the shoulder. You might look into something in the hind end as well - the reaction you see in the neck may be from pain elsewhere. When she backs up, she’s trying to get away from the hard part. How does she do if you break it down a little - like walking squares, where she would only have to do a quarter turn and walk straight out of it?

I would suggest having her evaluated by a neurologist at a university or specialist clinic …she should have a thorough neuro exam , possible neck X-rays and bloodwork to check for epm and Lyme for a baseline and go from there …depending on findings they might recommend further diagnostics such as myelogram if cervical compression is a concern

I have not done squares with her in awhile undersaddle but I do it alot in-hand and she does totally fine with it. Obviously going to the left is harder as I such as it but there may be part of me that is blaming myself and not seeing anything wrong in-hand. I was told she may look hock sore in some of my videos of my patterns(I do western gaming).

I will definetly bring that up. I have only heard of a rare few cases of EPM up here but I will not rule it out. I would not think of lime as we are in a bare pasture land but again, I will not rule it out. She has had a neuro exam done but no bloodwork. Neck X-Rays are happening Tuesday possibly sooner.