On the By Les Sellnow he foreleg of the horse is, for the most part, a model of good engineering.
It is structured in such a fashion that the horse can move slowly or at speed with the con cussion of each footfall minimized by a sophisticated shock absorbing system. Forehand T Most of a horse’s weight is carried on its forelimbs.
Good conformation will help ensure long-term soundness The system works very well when the horse is doing what nature in tended—wandering about over large expanses, grazing, drinking, breed ing, and resting.
But today’s horse often soars over multiple sixfoot jumps, runs at speed for a mile or more around an oval course, slides to a stop suddenly and spins, or per f orms intricate dressage movements.
These disciplines often put undue stress on the legs that can render even a well-conformed horse un sound.
A horse with improper con formation is at much greater risk for unsoundness when competing in ar duous Editor’s Note This is the third in a 12-part series of articles on equine anatomy and physiology.
Future topics include the the hind limb, the hoof, the head and neck, the back, muscles, tendons and ligaments, the digestive system, the circulatory and respiratory systems, and the reproductive system. DR.
ROBIN PETERSON ILLUSTRATIONS 83 L e f t S t i fl e J o i n t : Normal and with OCD femur study of equine limbs is the late O.R.
Adams’ book Lameness In Horses. No Connections? Shocking! An interesting aspect of front limb con s truction in the horse is that the front legs are not connected to the rest of the skel eton.
If one were so inclined, one could am p utate the entire front leg—from scap ula (shoulder blade) on down—without the scalpel ever touching bone.
Instead of bone and joints, the horse’s front legs are con n ected to its body by a network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Basically, the horse’s front legs help form a sling that sup ports the front part of the animal’s body.
A prime purpose of the front leg is to serve as a shock absorber.
If the impact of each stride were transmitted upward in a straight line, joints, muscles, tendons, and perhaps even bones would not remain healthy.
The key to proper shock absorption here is angle.
The proper angle of the fetlock, for example, makes it possible for a large portion of the shock forces to be dissipated before traveling up to the knee, forearm, and shoulder.
The rest of
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