Knocking any part of the foreleg with a hind toe on the same side. A front leg is overtaken and struck by the inner edge of the hind shoe, usually on the bulb of the heel. Sometimes the heel of the shoe may be struck and the shoe pulled off.
- Over-reaching may be caused by the conformation of the horse, discomfort in front limbs, fatigue, age, or poor or improper riding. Horses that over-reach often have short backs and long legs. With the back legs being closer to the front limbs, it is easy for the longer legs to collide with the back of the front limbs.
- If a horse has discomfort in the front limbs, the pain or discomfort may lead to poor coordination since the horse is reluctant to move the front legs in a steady, coordinated pattern. The same circumstances prevail with fatigue and age.
- If muscles are sore or tight, or if the energy level is low, the horse may not move in a smooth, coordinated way, causing the rear legs to over-reach and strike the front limbs as they stay on the ground too long. A poor rider who gives the horse mixed signals either with the reins or leg pressure may confuse the horse and cause delayed reactions resulting in over-reaching.
- The terrain one ride on can also affect this. For instance, thicker looser soil or sand can cause a front leg to momentarily “stick” and the back hoof to clip the heel or the heel bulbs of that front leg.
- To rectify this problem, the horse’s movements need to be analyzed by a farrier who can work with trimming of hooves and specialized shoe requirements to change the flight pattern of front and rear limbs, correct any instability, and provide adequate support for the moving horse.
- The first stage of treatment is attending to any lacerations or wounds created because of over-reaching. Most likely, any wounds will be contaminated with dirt and bacteria. Proper care and handling will reduce the risk of tetanus and prevent infections.
- If the horse has been immunized against tetanus, a booster shot should be given. If not immunized, a tetanus shot followed by a booster in 4 weeks should be given.
- A veterinarian should be consulted regarding treatment, which would probably include lavage of the wound with copious amounts of water until thoroughly cleansed, and use of an antiseptic. Chlorhexidine or Betadine are two antiseptics that, when properly diluted, provide antibacterial protection. The veterinarian can decide if any lacerations are serious enough to need sutures.
- The second stage of treatment involves assessing the cause of the over-reaching. If the over-reaching is the result of the conformation of the horse, a change in trimming of the hooves or in the fitting and/or materials of shoes may be enough to correct the problem.
- If fatigue, discomfort in the front limbs, or age cause over-reaching, it may be time to re-evaluate the exercise and work programs of the horse.
- If a rider is creating timing problems and sending mixed signals to the horse, riding lessons may be necessary, stressing proper riding techniques and horsemanship.
Shoeing / trimming solutions to prevent such occurrence are, the front shoes must be rolled toed with raised heels. The front heels raised and the hind heels lowered slightly, without compromising the hoof / pastern axis. This will encourage the horse to accelerate the break-over of the front feet and delay the break-over of the hind. Another option is that the heels of the front shoes are a little bit short to prevent them from being caught.