Sticky feet

Many people, including myself, have been bucked off by horses with what I call sticky feet. A horse with sticky feet does not move forward smoothly but instead lags back even though he has plenty of energy. 


Horses with sticky feet are not lazy horses and in fact can move very energetically but tend to be erratic in that movement. An example of this is my horse, Remi. On several occasions he has gone into bucking fits. Luckily, I have never been on him but he is impressive. I have learned to never get on him if he seems tense and stiff when I am doing groundwork. I continue my groundwork until Remi can move forward easily and I can totally control where he puts his feet before I saddle him up. 


Sticky feet can come from several causes including: 


Physical, such as:

Sore ribs

Sore feet

Sharp or painful teeth

Liver stagnation( In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Liver is what controls the flow of energy or Qi throughout the body.)

Poor fitting tack or over bitting


Emotional, such as:




I can tell with Remi that he is not moving freely when I am leading him in from the pasture. He will lag back at the end of the rope and I have to tug on the rope or drive him forward with the end of the lead rope. Once I get to the trailer he will stand with his head up and hold his breath. I don’t even try to saddle him until I can get his head down and have him breathing and licking and chewing. 


Lately, Remi has been particularly sticky and I feel he is bored from not getting enough work because he lost a shoe. I have been taking him out for walks until I can get him shod again. He is getting more free each day. I am also giving him some herbs to help his liver because he is showing some tightness through his ribs. 


Cerise can get sticky feet also if she does not get enough work. She has never bucked with me but she will resist bending and moving forward. When she has sticky feet she will only move forward well if allowed to go in a straight line. Interestingly, a horse with sticky feet can run away with you. Sticky feet is not always about forward but, like Cerise, can involve sluggishness about moving the feet any direction.


Taking the time to do groundwork may save you getting bucked off by an energetic horse that is not able to let his energy flow freely. Madalyn

This entry was posted in Cerise & Remi, General Horse Care on by .

About Madalyn Ward, DVM

This blog provides information based on my unique take on horse health and well being. The articles are based on experience of treating and working with horses for over 40 years. In most cases the articles are focused on an holistic approach to health and management. When conventional medicine offers good research or therapy, I share this information as well. Madalyn Ward, DVM

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