My horse is always knocking himself when we ride! What is up with that?
Well, since you asked, we should talk about all of the different ways horses can knock themselves. It's called intereference, and there are many different ways your horse can do this. Sometimes you are lucky and nothing bad happens, other times you get to have a visit from the Vet. #horsessmh
Bell boots are your friend.
- Brushing - side to side rubbing, commonly from the coronary band to the fetlock area. If your horse wears sport boots, the bottoms are often worn.
- Forging - the hind hood hits the underside of the front hoof. You will hear the thud, especially if your horse is shod.
- Over reaching - the hind hoof hits the bulb or pastern or fetlock of the front leg.
- You can also have injuries from the front limb hitting the same side hind limb. Scalping occurs at the hind coronary area, speedicutting damages the hind fetlock area, shin hitting hits the canon bone, and hock hitting hits the hock.
- You may also have cross firing, in which case the front limb and opposite hind limb whack.
The injuries can be totally minor, from a little scrape, to something more severe like a broken bone. I have also seen heel bulbs ripped off, hind leg skin peeled away, and chunks of hoof flying after a shoe is ripped off.
Sport boots are thick and fluffy and can show you where your horse is brushing. The fluffiness protects your horse's legs.
So many many reasons. It’s up to you, your Trainer, the Farrier and most importantly the Veterinarian to figure this out and go from there. Reasons why your horse may interfere include, but are not limited to:
- Conformation - narrow chests, narrow behind, cow hocked, pigeon toed, toed out, you name it. Even short backed horses with long legs may interfere more!
- Your horse’s job - what are you asking him to do, and how does he move his body to get it done?
- Lameness - sore stifles cause a horse to alter his gait, as does soreness in other joints. Soft tissue injuries also alter how your horse moves.
- His level of fatigue - a tired and sore horse won’t be as tidy with his legs as the fresh horse that is not fatigued.
X-Rays are the only true way to tell if the hoof is balanced. Many Vets and Farriers work side by side when radiographs are taken.
- Shoeing - a hoof that’s unbalanced isn’t ideal for preventing interference. The only real way to tell is with x-rays. You don’t need a lot of them, and your Vet and Farrier can work together on this!
- Your horse’s personality - does he like to scare you with his amazing feats of twisty shenanigans in the paddock?
- The footing your horse is exercised on, and the footing he lives on - Soft muddy footing can interfere with him picking up his feet, and super hard footing can make him lame and sore. Uneven footing can cause him to trip and interfere.
- Medical issues - mechanical problems (think string halt) and neurological issues all contribute to the tendency to interfere.
Proper and regular shoeing is key!
WHAT TO DO?
After you, the Vet, and the Farrier have some ideas of what the underlying issues are, you can simply modify your horse’s tack up process a bit to help prevent horrible interference injuries.
- Bell boots - protect heel bulbs and the back of shoes on the front legs.
- Sport boots allow your horse to brush and reduce the concussion and bonking on the fetlocks. They also protect the canon bones.
- You can also use a fetlock ring or a padded bracelet around the fetlock to protect from knocks.
So easy to use - horse anklets, if you will.
- Proper and balanced shoeing will help (where appropriate), as will a safe exercise program on level and safe footing.
How to you help your interfering horse stay away from the Vet?