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Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training/Does this sound right? Horse movement question- thanks in advance


Hello there and thank you in advance for your time and help. We are horse shopping for a first horse and went to look/test ride a mare. While I liked her calm demeanor (even though I'm weary of horse doping when looking for a horse) I couldn't help but notice that her back right leg movement seemed "off"- her movement wasn't what I would expect out of a 12 year old, sane horse. I watched as she walked-very occasionally she would drag her back right hoof, once or twice a sweeping drag, and it just didn't seem as in sync with the rest- it seemed like she awkwardly crossed that leg over a little at times too.She was turned in a bit of a circle a couple of times while walking and to me it looked like she had that back right leg out strangely before pulling it back in toward her while turning/going back into a walk. The lady didn't really address our concerns and pretty much just called the horse lazy and said she's never had any lameness or arthritis. The horse went into trot and canter with her but it was difficult for us to get her to do the same without a lot of force and she didn't want to stay in trot or canter- just wanted to stay still or walk really slow. She said the horse had jumped in the past but did not demonstrate a jump, even though I feel it would have been easy for her to set a jump up and do that. I just wonder and am weary about it- what could what I've described possibly be? Maybe I'm being paranoid and the horse was just being stiff and lazy? Any advice you can give will be appreciated!Thank you.

Hey there, and thanks for your question.

It sounds like it could be a couple of things.  

First off - laziness does not make my short list of concerns for this horse. If the horse were lazy, she would be easily motivated to move into the trot or canter, and while she would put up a slight fuss, she'd move. I don't think laziness is this horse's problem.

Secondly - The slight drag in the one leg makes me question whether or not the horse might have a slight neurological issue that is causing a lag OR it makes me question if this horse had an injury that either didn't heal right or was injured prior to you coming to look at her. The fact that the seller did not address your concerns, even indirectly tells me that she knows that something might be up with the horse. If you are planning to jump the horse on a course and the horse was said to jump, then that is something that should have been shown by the seller. If you don't plan on doing jumping with her, I wouldn't be too put out that she didn't demonstrate the horse's ability to jump; however, if the horse has an issue with it's leg, not demonstrating her jumping ability may not be a big deal.

There are a couple of things I would consider:
The horse's age and your riding style are the first thing to consider. If she's conformationally set for what you want from her, other than the leg issue, then I'd look at the second consideration. The other things to consider are how much are you looking at spending on said horse if you purchased her, and do you like her enough to spend the money on her? If the money is right and you like her enough, I would HIGHLY SUGGEST that you get a PPE (Pre Purchase Exam) done to see what exactly is up with the horse's leg. The PPE is usually done at the buyer's expense so I wouldn't shell out the expense to a vet if you don't think this is a horse you can see yourself with long term. If she's not a horse you can see yourself with long term, I wouldn't spend the money on the PPE.

I personally would continue looking at other horses and put this mare at the bottom on a consideration list. The leg drag is the main reason as to why, but I would also do it because the owner seems shady - she's not addressing a legitimate concern that you have about the horse. If I were a seller, I'd be open about the horse I'm selling, especially if I need to sell. It does her no good to with hold pertinent information about the horse's soundness, and it's a serious liability should you ride the horse again and become injured, or she gets injured. It could also set you back a few thousand dollars if something else is wrong with her.

I hope this helps you with your decision a little more. Please feel free to email back if you need more clarification on anything I've said above, or if you have other questions.

Good luck, and happy trails!


Horses - Behavior Issues, Breaking and Training

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Brittney Alexander


I can answer any question about English riding (pleasure and equitation), Western pleasure, transitioning into bitless riding, behavior, what to look for/how to buy a horse, & schooling issues. I can also answer questions about leasing contracts, as well as dealing with issues with boarders, barn managers, barn staff. Trying to find jobs with horses, or exercise riding jobs? I can answer questions about that too.


14 years total experience 4 years of initial professional training (as a rider) 7 years experience as an exercise rider 3 years experience as a trainer Currently working as a full time stable hand/groom & assistant barn manager I'm still learning everyday as working with horses is a learning experience everyday.

Veterinary Assistant Certified

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