Very young horse Crossfiring

Hi, i have a very young horse and i am concerned with his movement. I just vet checked him and did all thé x rays(clean) and hé moves at trot very well. The thing that bothers me IS that when hé is loping and he makes the transition from lope to trot hé Crossfire behind, just one stride and then just keep going at trot. He has no lameness, just this odd thing. Somebody knows what it could be? Stiffness? Unbalance? Ataxia? Thank you

How often is he ridden? How long has he been going for? How much work has he done?
It could be the simple answer of lacking balance and strength to hold himself. From my experience, crossfiring is because they can’t hold the balance so have to swap to correct the balance. They require more strength to hold it.

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How old is he?

What is your riding experience?

It’s easy for young, butt-high, growing, inexperienced, and/or unfit horses to be allowed to fall into gaits, whether a higher gait (walk to trot, trot to canter) or lower (canter to trot, trot to walk), and do weird steps

It’s easy for less experienced/knowledgeable riders to pull horses into a lower gait, rather than riding forward into the lower gait.

What do you mean he cross fires when going from canter/lope to trot? Cross firing would be within the canter, meaning one lead behind but the other lead in front


No, hé IS not ridden yet i just put him in thé round Pen sometimes and hé does it when hé is loping around. Hé IS a two Years old. It IS difficult to explain, hé Lopes normally and instead of passing from lope to trot in a normal way hé does a stride switching behind and thé hé trots

Well that makes more sense, he’s not balanced in a round pen or on a lunge, he will just do what is easiest for him. I would incorporate long lining if you can to start to teach him balance in the walk and trot, it’ll build up his muscle.


Ah, big difference!

I wouldn’t be loping/cantering a 2yo in a round pen.

I wouldn’t be using the round pen for any conditioning work, only verbal and physical cue work. It’s too much work on growing joints, and there’s no value in conditioning him that way even if it weren’t.

Transitions are only as good as the gait you are coming out of, and the quality of the gait is much harder to improve in a round pen, than while on their back.

Teach him to long line, go walking in open areas even if it’s just a riding ring, take him out of the round pen.


Ok thanks, sorry for thé stupid question, i am from France, what IS long lining? Thank you

Also called ground driving. Two long reins, run through rings on the surcingle, and you walk behind the horse, controlling through the two reins.


Oh ok i Know😆. Thé thing Is that even if hé s unbalanced, i sée many horses even yearlings loping around with no problèm, i m concerned about him maybe having ataxia or something liké that. But anyway i also think that maybe too hard round penning now

But are they in a round pen?

Does your horse cross-fire out in the pasture/field?

Keep in mind too that it can be purely about a growth stage, especially if they are butt-high

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The question is whether or not he does this when outside in the field? Than you have a reason to be concerned. Does he do it in both directions?

Yes i sée many yearlings western horses very balances in thé round Pen and yes hé does it also in thé field. But hé s not lame AT all and trot very well

Yes also in thé field only when transitioning from lope to trot

My farm had a 3 year old, ready to be started that could not hold a canter in the field or large indoor arena. He did the same thing @sara78 describes. The horse owner did not want to spend money or investigate further, so had the horse started (rather roughly I might add) and kept chasing him to canter under saddle. Said horse was lazy, not impaired. Within 6 months, horse came up quite lame and vet diagnosed sesamoid injury in 1 hind, followed soon by the other. Horse was turned out for a year and restarted. Has been ridden lightly ever since with close maintenance to keep him somewhat sound, however I don’t think he is sound. @sara78 I would have your young horse thoroughly examined by a lameness specialist before doing anything further. Make sure your horse will be able to do the job you intend and listen to your concerns.


Yes i ll do that again, even if i showed him to à lameness vet not so long ago. Your three Years old what did hé do? Only would break AT trot or also Crossfiring? Was hé lame AT trot AT thé beginning?

I wouldn’t be overly concerned about a 2-year-old cross-firing on a small circle. It’s very common. He’s just not strong or balanced enough.

Honestly my retired Grand Prix dressage horse has had a tendency to cross-fire on the longe his entire life, including the last canter stride before a trot transition, as you describe. This happened even when he was a successful FEI horse. I probably could have taught him to carry himself better on the longe but why, when he was great at his job under saddle? He never had any lead issues under saddle and tempi changes were one of his strengths.

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Yes, this IS what i mean hé does not Crossfire when loping normally, just thé last stride before trotting

That s interesting, i thought that when they do that on thé longe, they do it also under saddle. When you first had your horse you were not concerned about it? Did you show your horse to a vet? I m Always very picky on horse soundness and uneveness and i sée lameness everywhere, but this horse AT walk and trot IS very even AT thé moment for sure, hopefully IS something liké your horse that it won t bother him.

The 3 year old wasn’t lame at the trot, until he became so after being pushed by his trainer. He was a nice mover, but you could tell when they asked him to go from trot to canter or down from a canter to trot, he was uncomfortable. Sometimes he would hop, skip or cross fire. He wouldn’t canter for more than 1/4 or a half lap around the indoor. He didn’t canter well when playing in the pasture either. He was not lunged on a small circle. He wasn’t my horse. If so, I would have had him vetted because even babies can canter alongside their dams more than this horse could.

I haven’t found it to be true that if they do it on the longe they do it under saddle. Under saddle they are (ideally) less likely to be asked for circles too small for their level of balance, and the rider can help them balance better. I just bought a 3-year-old who exhibited some cross-firing on the longe in the pre-purchase videos but it does not concern me because he was being chased around a rather small circle when it happened. Under saddle video was totally fine.

My GP horse is 25 now so this was over 20 years ago and I don’t remember ever being concerned enough about it to have a vet examine him for that when he was going well under saddle. My trainers were not concerned either. It’s good to be perceptive and keep an eye on things, but in my opinion there are enough reasons to worry about horses and spend money on vets without going looking for more reasons!

I’m not saying there’s definitely nothing wrong with your horse. I just wouldn’t be super concerned based on what you describe because I think it’s pretty common for young horses on small circles.