Fact4 the day: The Hindlegs
Short Gaskin/Hocks High
Results from a relatively short tibia with a long cannon. Ideally, hocks are slightly higher than the knees, with the point of hock level with the chestnut of the front leg. Hocks will be noticeable higher in horse with this conformation. * The horse may have a downhill balance with the croup higher than the withers.
See especially in Thoroughbreds, racing Quarter Horses, and Gaited horses.
With this conformation, the horse can pull the hind legs further under the body, so there is a longer hind end stride, but the animal may not move in synchrony with the front. This will create an inefficient gait, as the hind end is forced to slow down to let the front end catch up, or the horse may take high steps behind, giving a flashy, stiff hock and stifle look. May cause forging or overreaching. ∑
Often results in sickle hock conformation.
Long Gaskin/Low Hocks
Long tibia with short cannons. Creates an appearance of squatting.
Usually seen in Thoroughbreds and stock horses.
A long gaskin causes the hocks and lower legs to go behind the body in a camped-out position. The leg must sickle to get it under the body to develop thrust, causing those related problems.
The long lever arm reduces muscle efficiency to drive the limb forward. This makes it hard to engage the hindquarters. The rear limbs may not track up and the horse may have a reduced rear stride length, forcing the horse to take short steps.
The horse is best used for galloping events, sprinting sports with rapid takeoff for short distance, or draft events.
Hocks Too Small
Hock appears small relative to the breadth and size of adjacent bones. Same principals with knees too small.
The joints are a fulcrum which tendons and muscles pass over for power and speed, and large joints absorb concussion and diffuse the load of the horse. Small joints are prone to DJD from concussion and instability, especially in events where the horse works off its hocks a lot.
A small hock doesn’t have a long tuber calcis (point of hock) over which the tendons pass to make a fulcrum. This limits the mechanical advantage to propel the horse at speed. The breadth of the gaskin also depends on hock size, and will be smaller.
Cut Out Under the Hock
Front of the cannon, where it joins the hock, seems small and weak compared to the hock joint. In the front end, its called “tied in at knee.”
Mainly affects sports that depend on strong hocks (dressage, stock horse, jumping)
Reduces the diameter of the hock and cannon, which weakens the strength and stability of the hocks. Means a hock is less able to support a twisting motion (pirouettes, roll backs, sudden stops, sudden turns). The horse is at greater risk for arthritis or injury in hock.
Slightly camped out behind.
Camped Out Behind
Cannon and fetlock are “behind” the plumb line dropped from point of buttock. Associated with upright rear pasterns.
Seen especially in Gaited horses, Morgans, and Thoroughbreds.
Rear leg moves with greater swing before the hoof contacts the ground, which wastes energy, reduces stride efficiency, and increases osculation and vibrations felt in joints, tendons, ligaments, and hoof. May cause quarter cracks and arthritis.
Difficult to bring the hocks and cannons under unless the horse makes a sickle hocked configuration. Thus, the trot is inhibited by long, overangulation of the legs and the horse trots with a flat stride with the legs strung out behind.
It is difficult to engage the back or haunches, so it is hard to do upper level dressage movements, bascule over jumps, or gallop efficiently.
Sickle- or Sabre-Hocked/ Overangulated Long Hind Legs
The hind leg slants forward, in front of the plumb line, when viewed from the side. The cannon is unable to be put in vertical position. Also called “curby” hock, as it is associated with soft tissue injury in the rear, lower part of the hock.
Limits the straightening and backward extension of hocks, which this limits push-off, propulsion, and speed. There is overall more hock and stifle stress.
Closed angulation and loading on the back of the hock predisposes the horse to bone and bog spavin, thoroughpin, and curb.
Angles of the hock and stifle are open. The tibia is fairly vertical, rather than having a more normal 60 degree slope
Common, usually seen in Thoroughbreds, steeplechasers, timber horses, eventers, and hunter/jumpers.
In theory, sickle hocks facilitate forward and rearward reach as the hock opens and closes with a full range of motion without the hock bones impinging on one another. This led to selective breeding of speed horses with straight rear legs, especially long gaskins.
The problem is that this breeding has been taken to the extreme. Tension on the hock irritates the joint capsule and cartilage, leading to bog and bone spavin. Restriction of the tarsal sheath while in motion leads to thoroughpin. A straight stifle limits the ligaments across the patella, predisposing the horse to upward fixation of the patella, with the stifle in a locked position, which interferes with performance and can lead to arthritis of the stifle.
It is difficult for the horse to use its lower back, reducing the power and swing of the leg.
Rapid thrust of the rear limbs causes the feet to stab into the ground, leading to bruises and quarter cracks.
Hocks deviate from each other to fall outside of plumb line, dropped from point of buttocks, when the horse is viewed from behind.
Most commonly seen in Quarter Horses with a bulldog stance.
Hoof swings in as the horse picks up its hocks and then rotates out, predisposing the animal to interference and causing excess stress on lateral hock structures, predisposing the horse to bog and bone spavin, and thoroughpin.
The twisting motion of the hocks causes a screwing motion on the hoof as it hits the ground, leading to bruises, corns, quarter cracks, and ringbone.
The horse does not reach forward as well with the hind legs because of the twisting motion of the hocks once lifted, and the legs may not clear the abdomen if the stifles are directed more forward than normal. This reduces efficiency for speed and power.
Cow Hocks/Medial Deviation of the Hocks/Tarsus Valgus
Hocks deviate toward each other, with the cannon and fetlock to the outside of the hocks when the horse is viewed from the side. Gives the appearance of a half-moon contour from the stifle to hoof. Often accompanied by sickle hocks.
Fairly common, usually seen in draft breeds.
Disadvantages to trotting horses, harness racers, jumpers, speed events, and stock horses. ∑
Many times Arabians, Trakehners, and horses of Arabian descent are thought to have cow hocks. But really the fetlocks are in alignment beneath the hocks, so they’re not true cow hocks.
A slight inward turning of hocks is not considered a defect and should have no effect.
A horse with a very round barrel will be forced to turn the stifles more out, giving a cow-hocked appearance
Medial deviation in true cow hocks causes strain on the inside of the hock joint, predisposing the horse to bone spavin. Abnormal twisting of pastern and cannon predisposes fetlocks to injury.
More weight is carried on medial part of hoof, so it is more likely to cause bruising, quarter cracks, and corns. The lower legs twist beneath the hocks, causing interfering.
The horse develops relatively weak thrust, so speed usually suffers.
Quote 4the day: "He's not going to look back if you don't.....They're the most forgiving creatures god ever made." ~Nicholas Evans
Thought 4the day: In life we meet people that make us a better person, ones that listen, ones that advice, some that are all the opposites and you do meet the odd nasty person who just wants to destroy everyone around them. its the same for horses and ponies if you think about it. The lucky ones have the love and support and confidence because their partner/owner gives it to them! Some are used si...mply as machines and their is no love just accomplishment if you can call it that. Others are simply a nuisance according to owners and are nasty..... are any horses nasty? Are they born that way or made that way? I will always argue that horses are never born that way its people who make them the way they end up. 99% can be turned back around with alot of love and patiance. There is the odd 1% who can be so deeply mentally and physically scarred that they might never turn that corner again but here we will give them every chance we can every oppertunity to see that not everyone is bad and if that means outside help then so be it. Everyone deserves that chance.....