Q6) What should I look for in pastern and foot
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The pastern is the shock absorber for the fetlock, knee and body
of the horse, thus, the length and angle of the pastern are critical to the
soundness and stride of the horse. Both affect the absorption of concussion
and the arc of the stride. The normal front pastern angle is 45 to 51
degrees. The normal hind pastern angle is 50 to 55 degrees. A short,
upright pastern increases the concussion of the stride, leading to ring bone,
side bone and navicular problems. A pastern that is too long is weak and
will increase stress on the tendons and ligaments of the leg.
Both front feet should point straight ahead and be of the same
size and shape. The feet should be large and in proportion to the
body. Small feet can lead to unsoundness. The wall of the hoof
should be thick and smooth, showing no rings or cracks. The heels should
be deep and open. The frog is to be smooth and elastic, dividing the sole
of the foot in half. It should touch the ground. The sole of the
foot should be slightly concave and not touch the ground. The hoof should
show signs of even wear, indicating straightness of gait.
Look for these unsoundnesses and blemishes when viewing the
pastern and foot:
Broken axis or coon footed
The angle of the
hoof does not match the pastern. This is weak conformation that causes
strain on tendons and ligaments
Too much slope
The long, excessively sloped
pastern is weak. A long pastern causes strain on the sesamoids when
the horse runs at great speed. Long pasterns also put greater pressure
on the tendons and contribute to bowed tendons.
Straight pasterns do not absorb
the concussion of the stride resulting in wind-galls. Excessive pounding
of the stride causes friction at the joint and development of side bones and
calcification of the joint.
Long toe-heel low
Long toes, low heel
configuration results in excess strain to the tendons and ligaments.
Misalignment of foot and pastern
angles strain tendons and ligaments.
This is found in horses that toe-in
or toe-out, are bow-legged or knock kneed. It is a calcification of
the cartilage on either or both sides of the coffin bone. Lameness may
be present until the bone is set.
This is a bony growth in the area of
the pastern joints. Upright pasterns are a cause, along with
over-training young horses. High ringbone occurs at the junction of
the long and short pastern bones. Low ringbone is found at the
coronary band. Can cause permanent lameness.
There are many excellent resources available.
In addition to the list below, visit the
Conformation area of the online catalog.