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Mare who "Paddles" Exercises to loosen up and help?

I have a 12 year old grade mare who is pretty heavy boned and big footed. It would not be a stretch to say she is of draft decent someplace.

She was purchased by me as a 2 year old and sold at 4. I now own her again and would like to see what opinions are out there on “correcting” the paddling motion. She has always done it and is sound. However, I want her to stay that way.

Are there any exercises to loosen the elbow and shoulder to possibly correct (to some extent) the paddling motion? No major flaws in conformation of her front legs and she does not “toe in” like most who paddle would.
Thank you!

Here is a picture (not a great one) of the mare as she is currently. Very out of shape as well.

Can you post good pictures of her hooves?

If she truly does not have any conformational flaws (straight legs), there has to be a reason she is “paddling”. I’d be first inclined to look at her feet and see if there is an imbalance.

Any chance there is a lameness issue that would be causing the paddling?

Does she do it evenly on both front feet or is it worse on one?

I will get better pics of her confirmation tonight. Ive had her home now for a week and just have not gotten to it.
I suppose there is always a chance there is a lameness issue but she has never shown it or acted off. She has hardly been ridden the last 4 years and I am trying to get her fit now.
She does it evenly on both front feet. Hind legs travel straight.

Paddling can be from the knee down or the ankle and it is not something you correct, but work with.

Your farrier is who will take care of that, or your vet can tell your farrier how to, if it is not sure how.

We like to get baseline x-rays on any horse with conformation or way of going that is different, so we can manage now, or follow later if there is any problems.

The one possible problem with paddling is if it is bad enough to interfere, hit the other leg at any time in the flight pattern of the paddling foot.

Hard to see much from the angle the picture is taken and without seeing the horse move.

Agree with Bluey.

Get a good farrier and/or vet consult to decide what to do.

If the horse paddles because of conformation and you try to artificially straighten the motion, you can cause more wear and tear and potentially lameness just through the “correction.” IOW, paddling is not inherently “bad” if that’s the way the horse’s body is designed to travel. My upper level jumper travels too close behind (in a way kind of similar to paddling), and when I moved to a new farrier he changed his feet to straighten the paddling motion. The horse promptly became very sore and we learned quickly that he needed to have his way of going supported by the shoes, not changed.

Thank you guys! I will have her looked at the next time the vet is out and get a game plan.
I was reading in my research that sometimes a paddling motion can be improved by loosening tightness in the shoulder and elbow. Has anyone had any luck with that?
So, as I am working to get her fit I would like some ideas as to ways to accomplish that. Either way, she could use some loosening up.

Agree with those who suggest that you work with a good farrier.

Some things can be corrected with special trims/shoes when horses are still growing, but not so easy, or maybe not even possible when they are adults.

I was reading in my research that sometimes a paddling motion can be improved by loosening tightness in the shoulder and elbow. Has anyone had any luck with that? [/QUOTE]

If you have access to a really good bodyworker then I would certainly pull someone like that in to take a look. I’ve had tremendous success helping facilitate correct movement with my horses via my vet/chiro and another bodyworker that I use. A couple of mine are often tight through the shoulders/ribcage/elbows (each for different reasons), and I’ve seen big changes within a single session.

There may be exercises that help as well, but I usually address issues in the shoulders/elbows via chiro/bodywork first and then condition behind the bodywork.

Why is she in bell boots? If she doesn’t keep her shoes on, I’d look for a better farrier.

I was wondering, is she part gaited?

Some gaited horses are bred where they paddle, it is how they move.

She has bell boots in this pic as we were at a playday and she was Loping through the patterns. I did not want her to over reach. She is barefoot.
She is not gaited but being she is a grade horse she could have gaited breeding someplace. She is surprisingly very athletic for her build and movement.

No. You cannot correct it. She’s 12. And if she is sound, there is no need to.
Trim or shoe her level, and square with her cannon bone, per usual. Otherwise, don’t mess with it.