Relating Form to Function: Horse's Rear Legs, Rear View

Horses November 21, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Ideally, when viewing the horse from the rear for structural correctness, an imaginary line from the point of the buttock through the gaskin, hock, and hoof should equally bisect the leg.

This straight column of bone will allow equal distribution of weight and concussion on bones, tendons, and ligaments as the hoof makes contact with the ground. In most cases, horses will naturally stand with their cannon bones parallel and their toes pointed slightly out.

This is perfectly acceptable because it allows the stifle to clear the rib cage when in flight, resulting in a longer-strided, freer-moving horse

Rear view of hindquarters

 


Cow-hocked horses are bowed in at the hocks and cannon bones instead of parallel. Typically, their hocks are set too close together, pointing inward with the feet widely separated. Cow-hocked horses tend to be weak in major movements that require work off the hindquarters, such as stopping, turning, and sliding.

 

Cow hocked horse

 


Out at the hocks refers to horses that are bow-legged in the rear legs due to hocks that are too far apart. They are generally base-narrow and stand toed-in. This condition adds increased strain on the bones, ligaments, and joints and interfere with movement. These horses are generally very poor athletes and should be severely faulted.

 

Horse standing out at the hocks

 

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.