Stumbling: Is My Horse Lazy or Uncomfortable?



While riding on a trail that was fairly smooth as far as rocks and dips go, suddenly my horse is down on her knees as if she decided to be thankful and is kneeling to pray. I thought we were going all the way down. I’m not sure how she was able to catch herself, but she did and she was back up on her front hooves and walking along as if nothing had happened.

I had noticed a lot of this stumbling around with my horse. Going down on her knees was the worst. Most of the time it’s just a little trip like when you stub your toe or don’t quite pick your feet up and stumble over a crack in the sidewalk. I began to wonder about what the problem, if any, could be.


My first thought was she is being lazy. She ambles around and doesn’t seem to care where she puts her feet and so she stumbles a bit. I talked with my farrier and he said she could be out of balance and he had been trimming her hooves in an attempt to help her be more balanced on her feet. I was glad to hear that, guess I hadn’t paid much attention to how he was trimming. He did a good job and talked to my horse and that sounded good to me. So now I know she is being trimmed with balance in mind.

It could still be laziness, on Poppy’s part. Some horses just don’t pay attention. They are gazing off somewhere else and they trip. I try to keep her moving and going around the sagebrush so that she has to know where her feet are at.

Rider Not Balanced:

Another reason could be the rider is out of balance. I’m not the best rider and I’m sure is some of my horse’s problem with tripping. I strive to sit straight, true, and balanced in hopes that my little mare will be more comfortable during our rides.IMG_0462

A Surprising Reason:

Maybe this isn’t a surprise to more experienced horsemen reading this, but it was a surprise to me. I had never heard that stumbling could be caused from a saddle not fitting correctly. It makes sense when explained. If the saddle doesn’t fit right the horse will accommodate the pain and uncomfortable feeling from the saddle by walking different and trying to move away from the pain and will not be paying attention to where he is going and can of course stumble. The wrong fitting saddle will make sores too.

A veterinarian should be consulted to make sure the back sores and pain are from an ill-fitting saddle then he/she can give advice on what best to do. The pain and soreness will have to be addressed first then a better fitting saddle would be the next thing to consider.

Training Can Help:

I have read that this behavior can be improved with training. Horsemen suggest mixing up the routine. Give the horse a treat by going out on the trail instead of arena work, or vis-versa, work in the arena with a course set up. The course could be cones, plastic tarp to walk over, and/or logs to walk around or over. The ideas here are endless. I think the fact the horse has to know where his feet are at as he maneuvers around and over obstacles keeps his mind on his feet and where he is placing them.

Whatever the reason, as horse owner’s we should try to find the why’s of the stumbling, especially if it’s a medical problem and go from there.

Do you have any suggestions or thoughts about stumbling? Please share your comments or ask a question. I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks for stopping by my hitching rail.

2 thoughts on “Stumbling: Is My Horse Lazy or Uncomfortable?

  1. Hi Judy, and thank you for your informative and interesting website.
    I was really surprised when I read that a poorly fitting saddle can make horses stumble – but when you come to think of it that makes a lot of sense.
    I worked on a huge cattle station in the Northern Territory, Australia as a young man (6200 square miles) and have been riding ever since …….so you would expect a bit more common sense from me. I have ridden around twenty different horses in the last couple of years and sometimes for 6 – 8 hour rides in remote areas. I have noticed quite often that few of these tend to stumble – sometimes early on in the ride and I have commented on it and tried to find the reason. I had been thinking that my 100 kg plus gear in weight might be a factor on horses that are not ridden often ………but now wonder if it is my American style Wrangler saddle causing the issues, particularly when they normally get ridden in Australian stock saddles.
    Anyway – you have presented an excellent resource, regards, Tony

    1. Hi Tony,
      First let me thank you for stopping by and leaving such a great reply. So glad you found my website informative.
      I agree, I found it surprising that an ill-fitting saddle could be the cause of a stumbling problem.
      How exciting to have worked on a big cattle station. I can only dream about that one. Don’t know if I could handle that many hours in the saddle. Would sure like to.
      I’ve ridden in an Australian saddle and it was very comfortable. I would like to own one. That’s a thought that the horses you were riding were use to one type of saddle over another.
      There sure is a lot to learn about horses and what gear is best for them. If you have any other thoughts on horse gear or questions I hope you will ask and share.
      Again, thank you so much for stopping by. 🙂

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