“Diplomatic Skills” Needed When Stumbling Is Due To Rider Error

It’s never easy to tell one of your clients to lose 150 pounds, buy a new horse with better conformation or to sign up for riding lessons


No farrier wants to have a tough client conversation about how rider error may be impacting a horse’s behavior. And when you have to be blunt and explain how rider error rider is the cause, it’s time to bring your “diplomatic skills” into play.

Bob Smith says most riders don’t recognize they may play a major role in a stumbling situation. The owner of the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School in Plymouth, Calif., says something as simple as allowing the horse to drop its head below the withers often leads to stumbling. When this happens, the horse will become too heavy on the front end, which delays breakover, and causes the foot to stay low to the ground during the cranial phase of the stride.

Carrying too much weight on the front limbs can also delay breakover. To perform to the best of its ability, Smith says a horse should not carry more than 20% of its bodyweight in the form of rider and tack pounds.

Other stumbling concerns that can be due to the rider include using the wrong bit, riding on unfamiliar or rough terrain or having vision concerns when a horse walks too close to the horse just ahead of them during a trail ride.

While it’s easy for horse owners or trainers to…

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Frank lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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