Why does your horse stomp the ground? It could be flies, it could be stringhalt.
- This annoying and sometimes dangerous habit of your horse to stomp the ground is yet another way for us to play “WHAT DO YOU MEAN HORSE? Why can’t you just send me a text?”
- And is stomping inherently “bad”? In some cases it is, but other times it’s just irritating, and can easily be remedied by changing a few things. Stomping can certainly be related to health conditions, like stringhalt, but it can also create health conditions, like damage to the hoof and lost horseshoes.
Fly boots can totally help the horse that stomps.
Why do horses stomp their legs?
- It’s pretty obvious when the flies are causing your horse to stomp his legs. Flies land, your horse stomps. Time for some barriers here – fly sprays, fly boots, all over fly control for the farm, even horse socks.
- Your horse hurts somewhere. Maybe he’s trying to shake out what hurts him, or it’s his way of letting go of some painful frustration. Colic, being the extremely broad condition that it is, is only matched by the extremely broad list of colic signs. Abdominal discomfort might make some horses stomp.
- Your horse might also stomp because he’s itchy, and he just can’t reach the spot.
Courtesy of Sox for Horses
- He has done a wonderful job of training you. Does he stomp at certain times and you zip over to see what’s up? Or does he coordinate his stomping with hay deliveries? Does your horse stomp at the gate so you will bring him in or out first?
- Your horse might stomp if his personality is a bit short of patience. Maybe he only delights in standing still for 5 nanoseconds and then he must be moving. This can turn into a vice-like situation, much like pawing. Which, incidentally, can also be an example of horses training humans.
- Maybe your horse saw a spider. This is oftentimes accompanied by a loud squeal.
Horses in pain will often roll, sometimes they stomp also.
What if it’s a physical reason for your horse stomping his legs? Some physical conditions might result in your horse stomping. Stringhalt is likely one that you have seen, at some point.
- A horse with stringhalt will sharply lift his hind legs right up to his belly and then slam them down. It can occur in one or both legs. When a horse with stringhalt turns or backs, you notice this action more. Sometimes the stringhalt makes the gaits wobbly, and can even result in peripheral neuropathy, which is just a fancy way of saying nerve damage.
- Stringhalt that is linked to certain pasture weeds is termed Pasture Associated Stringhalt (PSH). It’s usually caused by the incredibly hardy false dandelion, but it can also be linked to sweet peas, real dandelions, and marshmallow plants. The mechanism for PSH is unknown, but some sort of neurotoxin in the plant is suspected.
- In cases of PSH, the horse really needs to be removed from any pasture that contains the offending weed. There is no cure, per say, but a horse with PSH might benefit from muscle relaxants, botox, and even surgery to help the tendons involved. Recovery from PSH can take months and even years, and may never truly clear up. Food for thought when you are turning out your horse to pasture.
- Sometimes the cause of stringhalt is a tendon issue, and sometimes the cause is just plain unknown. In these cases, some of the PSH supportive care protocols might help.
Lost shoes and cracked edges, along with constant concussion, are the result of stomping. Photo courtesy of Sox for Horses.
Problems that stomping can cause:
- Damage to the hoof wall and other hoof structures is a real possibility for the stomping horse. You might also find that horseshoes get loose quickly, which is its own problem.
- Hoof walls can crack, and edges can chip. Not to mention the concussion that your horse’s entire leg will go through.
- Is there the possibility that a stomping horse could remain a stomping horse as this turns into a habit? Possibly!
If your horse is a chronic stomper, it’s a good idea to loop your Vet in. The most obvious reason for a horse stomping the ground is flies, and finding a remedy for that is easy. It’s all of the other things that you and your Vet will need to sort through.
These are Silver Whinnys by Sox for Horses, they do wonders for skin stuff and stomping.