Hock A strong hock that is large enough to provide room for adequate muscle and tendon attachment, while keeping in proportion to the size of the horse is desirable.
The front of the hock should be reasonably smooth with no meatiness or swelling.
The back of the hock should be square and well defined. Cannon Bone The length of the cannon bone affects the function of the horse.
A short cannon bone is stronger than a long cannon bone.
The bone should be relatively large.
The legs are a very important part to watch for major scars, swelling, and any injuries that may cause lameness.
When viewed from the front or back the legs should be straight, with joints lined up.
A horse’s legs should stand straight under the four corners of its body without angling in or out. 17 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Conformation & Evaluation Pasterns The length and angle of the pasterns are important.
These short sections of leg just above the hoof should be sloped.
When the horse is standing square, the front pasterns should be at an angle of about 45 degrees to 50 degrees and the back pasterns should be at an angle of about 50 degrees to 55 degrees.
Moderately long, sloping pasterns help to absorb concussion.
If the horse is built so that its pastern is too upright it will be rough to ride.
If it is too sloped or too steep, the horse may be susceptible to injury of the tendons, ligaments and the fetlock joint. Ideal Pastern Angle Pastern Angle Too Sloped Pastern Angle Too Upright Hooves Fore foot It is a good idea to start looking at a horse from the ground up; “No Hoof No Horse”.
Hooves should be healthy and a good size for the size of the horse.
They should be big enough to distribute the stress and concussion of the horses weight.
Hoof walls should be free of major cracks where the outer wall is actually split from the coronet down.
Such cracks may cause a horse to be lame.
Hooves should be clear of founder rings.
Front feet tend to be Front View Rear View Side View round.
Hind feet tend to be more pointed.
Both front feet should be the same shape and size, and both back feet should be the same shape and size. Hind foot 18 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Conformation & Evaluation Throat latch Neck A clean, trim, well defined throat latch that is capable of flexing is desirable.
Horses use their head and neck to balance.
Adequate length depends on what the horse is used for.
The depth and set of the neck on its shoulders also affects the horse’s function.
A trim neck, set relatively high into the shoulder, is preferred over a thick, low set neck. — 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Conformation & Evaluation Pasterns Correct Pasterns Front View Side View Rear View Ideal Pastern Steep Pasterns – often accompanied by a steep shoulder.
This increases the effect of concussion on the fetlock joint, pastern joint and navicular bone. Weak Pasterns – pasterns are usually too long and sloping.
In extreme cases, the fetlock may touch the ground when the horse travels.
This horse will be predisposed to injury of the tendons, ligaments and the fetlock joint. Steep Pastern Broken Hoof/Pastern Angle – the angle of the pastern and the angle of the hoof are not the same. Coon Foot – when the pastern slopes more than the front wall of the hoof, so much that the angle is nearly parallel to the ground it is called a “coon foot”.
This places additional strain on the tendons and ligaments. Club Foot – A “club foot” is a serious conformation fault Weak Pastern in which the hoof angle is too steep (60% or more).
This horse may be susceptible to osselets, ringbone, navicular syndrome, side bones and splints.
They often stumble and are unsafe to ride. Coon Foot B. Viewing from the Front/Rear Base-Narrow – the forelegs and/or hindlegs are closer together at the ground than at the top of the leg.
If the base of the feet is narrow, this may be accompanied by toe-in or toe-out conformation.
There is more weight and stress placed on the outside of the legs and the horse may be susceptible to windpuffs, ringbone and sidebone. Ideal Front Legs 28 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Conformation & Evaluation Base-Wide – the forelegs and/or hindlegs are farther apart at the ground than at the top of the leg.
This may be accompanied by toe-in or toe-out (most common) conformation.
This places more weight and stress on the inside of the legs and predisposes a horse to windpuffs, ringbone and sidebone. Toe-In (Pigeon Toed) – the toes point toward each other. If the horse toes in, or is pigeon toed, more weight and concussion is placed on the outside of the pastern and hoof.
This is usually seen with base-narrow and bow-legged conformation. Conform & Eval. Splay-Footed (Toed Out) Toe-Out (Splay-Footed) – the toes point away from each Pigeon Toed other.
This may be seen with either base-narrow or base-wide (Toed In) conformation and is often present if the horse is cowhocked.
If the horse toes out, or is splay-footed, more weight and concussion is placed on the inside of the pastern and hoof.
More horses are splayed in the front than back.
This is one of the most common conformation faults. Way of Going or Travel The way the horse travels is the way the horse moves.
Ideally, both the front and hind legs should move forward in a straight line.
The back feet should travel in almost the same tracks as the front feet.
The horse should move with a long, fluid, ground clearing stride rather than a short, choppy stride.
This is the most efficient way of moving and it places the least stress on the limbs.
Watch the horse’s feet carefully for how straight the horse travels and check the tracks left by the horse for signs of deviations in the horse’s stride.
Such deviations may indicate a conformation fault, that may eventually cause a problem. Assessing Athletic Movement Athletic movement should not be confused with “way of going”.
A horse’s athletic movement is determined by the lightness, rhythm and impulsion of his stride.
Some horses can travel extremely crooked, yet possess a very light, rhythmic movement with tremendous impulsion.
For further information, a video entitled “Assessing Athletic Movement” is available through Alberta Agriculture, Rural Development and Food. 29 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Conformation & Evaluation Deviations from Travel in Horses A.
Viewing from the Front/Rear — 34 4 – H H o r s e P r o j e c t M a n u a l – Conformation & Evaluation Is this horse sound? (continued) Quarter Crack (B, U) – a deep crack in the area of the outside or inside quarter, starting at the coronet and running down through the entire wall of the hoof.
Requires proper hoof care.
Quittor (B, U) – a deep-seated inflammation of the hoof which drains pus through the coronary band.
This is caused by a direct injury such as puncture wounds, cuts, interference, etc.
It is usually only a temporary lameness if treated early. Conform & Eval. Ringbone (U) – bony enlargement(s) (arthritis) on one or more bones and, or joints of the pastern region.
It is most common in the forelegs and is caused by injury or faulty conformation such as short, upright pasterns. Roaring (U) – characterized by a whistling or roaring sound when the horse breathes in.
This occurs especially with increased respiration from exercise.
It is caused by paralysis of the muscles of the larynx, often due to a lengthy respiratory infection. Sand Cracks (B) – surface or shallow cracks in the hoof wall.
They may start at the coronet and go down, or at the bottom of the hoof wall and go up.
This is usually caused by improper hoof care or alternating wet and dry conditions. Sidebone (B, U) – bony enlargement(s) above and to the rear of the hoof, a result of ossification (turning to bone) of the lateral catilage.
It is most common in the forelegs and is usually caused by concussion or faulty conformation. Splint (U) – a bony enlargement, most commonly found on the inside of the front cannon bone.
May occur anywhere along the length of the splint bone.
It usually is due to strain, injury or faulty conformation.
It rarely affects the horse after the initial lameness has disappeared except where it occurs high enough to interfer with joint action. Stifled (U) – when the patella, found in the stifle joint (which corresponds to the kneecap in the human), becomes displaced and locks in an extended position, it is referred to as a stifled condition.
It may release on its own or may require manual manipulation.
This is seen most frequently in post-legged horses and once this occurs, the ligaments are stretched and the horse will be prone to stifling again.
It may be surgically corrected.
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