Trivia Challenge: Can You ID These Leg Faults?

Answer the questions, then check at bottom for the key. For more fun and educational information about horses and horsemanship, read H&R’s ‘The Ride’ newsletter. (Not getting it? Sign up below.)
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1. True or false: Sickle hocks describe hind legs so straight up and down that they’re also known as “post legs.”

T / F

2. True or false: The construction “back at the knee” is a more serious conformation fault than “over at the knee.”

T / F

3. What is a club foot?

A) A hoof that turns to the outside at a severe angle.

B) An abnormally wide hoof with a larger circumference than its mate.

C) An abnormally upright hoof, often with long, contracted heels.

4. True or false: A pigeon-toed horse swings his front legs in a paddling motion at all gaits.

T / F

HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)

1. F is correct. Sickle hocks actually have too much angulation, resulting in the hind feet coming too far forward under the horse. The name comes from the extreme bend of the farming sickle. Severe sickle hocks can stress the structures at the back of the hock and cannon bone.

2. T is correct. Over at the knee is a construction where the knee appears to protrude slightly forward. Unless the overage is severe, the horse will usually be able to perform adequately. Back at the knee (or “calf-kneed”) is where the knee appears to be set back; it’s a more serious fault as it puts extra strain on the tendons running down the back of the cannon.

3. C is correct. A club foot will appear slightly narrower and steeper than its mate. With regular professional care, a club foot usually doesn’t interfere with a horse’s performance.

4. T is correct. A pigeon-toed horse (where one or both front feet toe inward) will tend to swing his leg(s) in a paddling motion. This fault usually doesn’t affect the horse’s soundness.

[Learn more! Our horse-judging expert tells you how to evaluate conformation.]

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