This is going to be a very basic and brief lesson on leg conformation. I
could write a book on this subject but ain’t nobody got time for that.
This is per the request of transperceneige! I may do a follow up with some more information but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone. Let’s begin!
Those are basic illustrations, and the foreleg one has some.. not common names… So.. “Buck Kneed” is over at the knee, “Calf Kneed” Is back at the knee. I’m going to start with the most common knee issue - over at the knees. Lots of thoroughbreds have this issue, and it’s believed because they’re run at such a young age. Not sure if there’s any science behind that but it is definitely also a genetic flaw. Levels of severity vary to extremely mild, to fare more noticeable, where it looks like the horse is about the buckle at the knees. See image below for a visual of a horse who is over at the knee.
A horse who is back at th eknee offers a whole new set of issues. Horses who are back at the knee do not seem to be as common as horses who are over at the knee, which is a good thing. Because of the position of the knee, more strain is put on the tendons in the leg. This arabian has a pretty significant case of being back in the knee:
So that’s pretty basic for the front legs. What about the back legs? There’s post hocks, sickle hocks, camped under legs and even camped out legs.
Lots of people *coughWarmbloodBreederscough* *andFriesianBreederscough* like to position their horses so you can’t truly see their leg conformation. A basic understanding of horse mechanics will let you see beyond these practices.You always hear english tumblr complaining about post hocks… because they would NEVER breed such atrocious legs, right? Wrong. That’s what this blog thrives on. So, let’s get to it! This is Popeye K - a very successful sire in the Hunters. He’s post legged:
If Popeye was an AQHA or APHA horse, he’d get mad hate on this website. Next, we have Camped Under Legs, you’ll see how the hock falls under the point of the hip:
Sickle hocks are similar to being camped under, except the point of the hock still lines up with the point of the hip. Reiners are big into breeding for this, because they believe it helps the horse get under themselves when they pull of those huge stops:
Then there’s the issue of bone mass.What is good bone mass? Well, that depends on horse to horse and what you want it to do. There’s a reason drafts have huge bones. They’re built to be strong and tough, you can’t have a horse breaking its legs in the middle of hauling lumber. Thoroughbreds lean more towards a very light bone mass to lighten the weight of their frame, but this effects some of them negatively in the long run when they break down.
Mild conformation defects probably won’t hurt a horse in the long run, but they definitely become a problem when they’re extreme cases.I’d show you an image of a horse with perfect conformation, but no such thing exists.
There is no horse with perfect legs. They’re always going to either come in at the hocks or toe out just a little bit, have less than ideal bone mass, and most of those horses lead perfectly happy lives as long as their feet are properly balanced… now when you have unbalanced feet, you’re asking for trouble even if your horse has decent leg conformation, and if your horse has crappy legs and an even crappier farrier - you’re begging for trouble.