Q5) What do I need to know about hind leg conformation?
Click on picture to enlarge view.
The hindquarters produce the power and propulsion of the
stride. The hindquarters should have long, well-developed muscles.
The croup should be slightly rounded, neither too flat nor too sloped.
Length and width of the croup are important since the length of muscle provides
speed and the width is associated with power. The thigh and stifle should
have long, well-developed muscles. The gaskin is to be long and muscled on
both the inside and outside. A long gaskin increases the length of leg
from hip to hock, allowing for maximum range of motion. A short gaskin
indicates a short strided horse.
The hock should be wide and smooth, free from puffy swelling or
bony enlargements. The angle of the hock is extremely important. Too
wide an angle leads to a hind leg too straight. Too small of an angle
results in a sickle-hocked conformation.
The cannon bone should be short, wide and flat. Fetlocks
are large and wide, free from swelling or windpuffs. The pasterns are of
moderate length with an angle of 50-55 degrees.
Look for the following conformation faults and unsoundnesses
when viewing the hind legs from the side:
The hocks are severely angled from the point
of the hock to the fetlock. The horse appears to stand under from the hock
down. Subjects horse to strain in hocks - causes curb, throughpin, and bog
spavin. Sickle hocked horses tend to interfere at the trot. They are often
cow-hocked, making for a severe hind leg deficit.
The hind leg is carried behind the
vertical line from buttock to ground. This prevents the horse from getting its
legs under itself for collection. Hunters and jumpers will have trouble
pushing off over jumps. Often associated with upright pasterns.
The hock is too straight.
Places increased stress on tendons and ligaments. Bog spavin and
patella injuries result. The leg is easily injured by heavy work.
There is a lack of muscling on the
croup. Indicates lack of power and endurance.
Associated with low striding
action. If too flat, the legs are carried too far back, limiting
stride and power
This is a firm swelling abut 4" below the
point of the hock at the back of the leg. This is a strain of the
ligament connecting the hind cannon to the hock. Does not cause
1. bog spavin
This is a soft swelling located in front and
to the inside of the hock. Caused by injury to the hock or upright conformation
of the hock. Usually does not cause permanent lameness.
2. capped hock
This is a swelling on the point of the
hock caused by stall kicking or other injury. Usually does not cause
Conformation of the hind legs when viewed from the back:
Click on the picture for a larger view.
should be able to draw a straight line through the hocks, cannon bones and
fetlocks from the point of the buttock to the ground.
these conformation flaws when viewing the hind legs from the back:
This is not seen as often in the
hind legs as it is the front legs. Often associated with cow-hocked
Most of the horse's weight is
carried on the outside of the hooves. The hocks bow outward during
stride. Horse will interfere.
The hocks rotate outward.
Horse moves stiffly due to inflexible hock action. Hindquarters are
weak and the horse tires easily.
The hocks are pointed inward - feet
pointed outward. Places strain on inside of the leg and causes bone
spavin. Hind leg moves upward and outward - not straight ahead.
This is weak conformation.
This is a serious fault. This
usually indicates a fracture or other injury and will result in almost
immediate lameness when the horse is put into training.
This is a soft swelling on the
upper back portion of the hock at the back of the hind leg. The
ligament connecting the hind cannon to the hock is strained. Does not
usually cause permanent lameness.
2. bone spavin
This is a bone growth on the hock
and causes arthritis in the hock. Sickle hocked horses are susceptible
to bone spavin. Horses experience pain when flexing the hock and
permanent lameness usually results.
There are many excellent resources available.
In addition to the list below, visit the
Conformation area of the online catalog.