Where does it hurt?

If your horse or pony suddenly could not cross his front right leg over his front left leg, where would you think the locus of that dysfunction is?

For two years I’ve done an exercise whereby I ask him to cross over in front in a kind of slow, gentle spin, moving away from my hand. It’s just a warmup exercise. He knows this exercise and he’s done it every day for a year. We haven’t done it for awhile but when I tried last week he refused to cross the right over the left and would only spin with his legs apart. Mostly he tried to move forward or backward. He was normal crossing the left over the right.

Suddenly is not entirely accurate. He’s had problems since last summer and the vet has not been able to pinpoint it. It seems subtle and the vet writes it off to him being a pony. But I know something is wrong. Also, when the pony trots in a circle to the left, he turns his head out to the right, which he did not used to do. Last summer, he began cross-cantering when asked to go to the left, which seems to be resolving bit by bit. This one symptom - not crossing his right front leg over the left front - is kind of the most clear dis-ability. He tight ropes and has hocks that are weak but that is not news.

Yes, I’m trying to get another vet. Apparently, that is a political problem.

Neck or shoulder?


Lower neck, C5-6-7. At least based on my recent experiences and my hindsight view of the slight dysfunction that was building over time.

It wasn’t that expensive to get a series of neck x-rays. I’d also have a complete neuro eval don.

I can believe it is neck. He was assessed for neuro, and I really don’t think it’s that. I have a low-grade neuro horse. My friend with a great deal of horse experience thinks that turning as I’m asking requires him to sit back on his haunches and his arthritic hock could be the issue. Have any dressage trainers had experience with horses suddenly not willing to cross over in front?

If the cross cantering is a related symptom, then it could be hind end. Or you could have 2 things going on.

Update: vet came out and put pony on lunge after standing exam. Standing exam: Vet notes that he doesn’t flex his backend with pressure and seems very dull to the touch (doesn’t notice -or care- about pokes along the back end). On lunge: Immediately said he lame on front to the left… Not much better to the right. Asked me to put his boots on, and viola- he picked up his leads! So he’s sore on his front both sides and flexes positive on the left stifle. BUT not the end of story.

He still couldn’t do the crossover (right front hoof crosses over left front.). She suspects some neck involvement.

She blocked his heels, no change on lunge. Blocked the front of the foot and he was better.
We did rads of his feet, and neck. They look good. One area on the neck might be a concern; she will look more closely in the office. I asked for rads of the stifle. Looks good. I’m glad things look good. So what’s the problem?

So… What would you do next? I am kind of thinking there was no point to the rads of the stifle. It has to be soft tissue injury or the symptoms would have been much more consistent and dramatic (or not?). Should I have rads of the back done? This pony had a loooong history of bucking kids off (no longer ridden; drives a carriage.). Vet thinks maybe that’s the problem area. We will do another follow up exam. Just wondering where others would go with this.

Depending on how the neck rads look once the vet can view them better, I’d maybe go with ultrasound of the neck and/or rads of the back.