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2 1/2 yr old MFT filly with cat-hams?
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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DCA
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 Posted: Sat Dec 29th, 2007 10:17 pm
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Attachment: left hind good.jpg (Downloaded 306 times)

DCA
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 Posted: Sat Mar 15th, 2008 03:44 am
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Hi Dr. Deb,

It's me...again.  I just wanted to tell you that I can see that my mare is certainly cow-hocked.  It's taken me a while to write because, honestly, I am a bit ashamed and embarrased as to how I could have possibly missed it in the first place.

I was concentrating on all the wrong things instead of LOOKING at what was staring me in the face!  And, also, your conformation book(s) spell it out so blatantly.  Again, how I missed it in the first place...ugh.

I just wanted to let you know that I never "gave up" on this.  I DO want to learn and continue to learn.  I don't just "want answers".  Well, I do of course want answers, but I've always been a "why" type of person, so along with the answers, I have to have explanations. 

Thanks again for your help AND your wonderful books!

 

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Mar 15th, 2008 04:54 am
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Dear DCA: Thanks for the nice words about "Priciples of Conformation." Clearly, you have really spent some time studying -- which means looking, re-looking, and comparing....comparing not only the pictures in the books with the one horse you wrote in about, but also comparing one horse to another. This is the only way that this material can be learned: practice in observation.

However, I need to tell you now what I avoided saying in the first place. I avoided it because I wanted you to get out there and look, and look again, and think, and get some practice in picturing things in your mind's eye. And so you have. But now I want you to look again. When I run my eye up the horse's hind limb, I see no deviations worth mentioning at all. The animal is not cow-hocked, neither is it bow-legged. It is sufficiently substantial, and in the still photo at least, it has perfectly good alignment of the hindlimb elements as seen in rear view.

So what you are gaining in looking, and looking again, and comparing, is experience. Experience with many horses gives the most important development, which is perspective. You gain the perspective with experience to know when something is of consequence, and when it is not.

Now, DCA, I want to tell you a true story. Once upon a time, I used to do a lot of "conformation clinics". People all over the country and all over the world wanted my opinion of their horse's build. I did this when I was younger and more naive. I did not realize that in most cases, what the people really wanted was not motivated by the pure desire to learn skeletal structure, how to judge proportions, or even how to breed or buy better livestock. No. What they really wanted was for an authoritative person (me) to waltz in there and give them a reason WHY they were not succeeding in having all their hopes and dreams come true with this horse they had paid money for and pinned a lot of ambitions and hopes and dreams on. If they could find a physical reason, it seemed to them humane and reasonable, like as if they had permission then to give up on the horse.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it is almost never because of a physical reason that a horse cannot perform something. Almost NEVER. 99% of the time, the reason the horse doesn't do it is because the rider-owner-handler can't bring it out of the horse. Most horses can do most things, but to do those things they need somebody to show them what is wanted in a way that the horse can understand. And then it needs to be encouraged, motivated, and developed. If you read this Forum however, for example, you will find some very honest people confessing that even though they have owned multiple horses, or owned horses for years, they have in fact never been able to even put "manners" on a horse, which would be Thing One.

This evening I had the pleasure of breaking a horse to ride, or beginning the process. This is a 14 year old TB that belongs to a young woman whom I have known since she was a girl. Because she was being harassed at the farm where we both used to board, she has now showed up at the farm where I currently board. But her horse is not broke. Five years ago, it was also not broke, but at that time I was unable to get enough leverage on her or her mother to cause them to believe me. This is sometimes what local people are like. But for various reasons, at the present time I do have the leverage and I am using it. So we spent four hours this afternoon simply doing nothing but getting to Square One with the mannering. This horse feels like a wagonload of bricks to lead, runs over you any time you try to go through a gate or into the stall, comes close to jumping on you if you try to stop him on the leadline, crashes into your space with his inside shoulder, and has an attention span of about 2.5 seconds. You can't turn its head without its butt spinning around. At liberty it endlessly stall-weaves or runs the fence.

When people have horses like this, that are well beyond what they can handle, they will say, "well, that's what Thoroughbreds are like." But no, it is not. It is what the people are like. The horse is what the people make it. This horse is heavy, stiff, anxious, and inattentive because lightness, suppleness, and attentiveness/calmness have never been demanded of it and it is totally ignorant of where it stands -- or where it ought to stand -- in relationship to the handler. This is a horse, as our elderly teacher used to say, who has "....lost his all-rightness and the path to all-rightness."

Happily, the lovely young woman who owns this horse is now willing and capable of learning what SHE needs to learn in order to turn this situation around. And I don't think it would ever cross her mind to blame her horse's deficiencies -- because obviously he's a misery to ride as well -- on his conformation. No horse can move beautifully when as tense and braced as this horse is all the time. A horse in this condition, if made to move, will also soon make himself lame.

So, DCA, this is a cautionary tale. I am really, anymore, not all that interested in conformation. There are no lies in my books, and I'm glad you study them; there is still a viable science there that relates to the breeding and selection of good livestock. What good is this going to do with the gelding you own, though? Would you give him up if I said he was a crock? I bet not. So the real meat, the important stuff, the vastly joyful world, lies in what the horse understands, how he feels inside, and in the relationship between you and him. Just some observations on what I've learned over the long course.

Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

DCA
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 Posted: Sat Mar 15th, 2008 06:25 am
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Wow, ok, now I really don't know what to do with myself!  Ha! 

Well, first let me start by thanking you for that story.  I hope that the girl you are helping is soaking everything in!  And her horse will finally be happy, as he obviously can't want to be that way.  Being an Arab lover, we are always hearing comments about "those crazy, hot Arabs".  A horse is a reflection of it's owner.

Through reading various posts on your forum, I already know that you are not at all interested in evaluating conformation.  And I completely understand your reasons.  I have also read enough posts to see that you are more concerned with a horse's emotional and physical well-being, and helping their owners to better communicate. 

You asked me if I would have given her up if you said she was a "crock".  You are right, I wouldn't have.  My concerns were based on her staying sound over the next 20 + years of riding. 

I don't know what to say about the "cow hocks".  She seemed to fit the bill.  Her stifles appear to be pinched in (her hips are wider than her stifles), she walks very narrow in back, almost as if her hind hoof could brush a fetlock (though it never does) and she carries her weight on the outsides of her hooves.   That's why I wanted to get a video of her in movement a while back.

Well, anyway, I won't take up too much of your time.  But, I do plan on purchasing your Birdie Book in the near future and I thank you again for taking the time to teach me and others. 

Stacee

 

 

 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Mar 15th, 2008 07:36 am
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Stacee -- if a horse walks on, or is seen to weight, the outside rim of its hoofs, that is an indication that it is bowlegged behind, i.e. the opposite of cow-hocked.

Many horses "wring" their hocks when they walk, gait, or trot, and I think this is probably what you were wanting to show me on a video. To "wring" the hocks means that if you were standing behind the horse and it was being ridden at a walk straight away from you, you would see the peculiar action. If you wait until the right hind leg is weighted and that leg is moving back toward you, you would see the whole right hind limb twist or "wring" to the outside. The weight would be on, or would quickly travel to, the outside rim of the hoof, and the hock would appear to bow outward. The stifles would, at the same time, appear to rotate inward so that they were definitely appearing narrower than the hipbones. Then if you focused on the left hind leg when it was coming backward weightbearing, you would see the same thing or nearly the same thing. Many horses that do this are somewhat worse on one hind leg than the other.

What the horse needs when you see that this is going on, or what you should use this "wringing" as an indication of, is that the horse needs:

(1) to have its upper-inner thigh adductors released. This is known in the trade as a "groin release". Perform it most simply by first teaching the horse to stand relaxed while its hind legs are being handled, as if you wanted to clean out the hind hoof. Have a friend hold the horse's halter lead if he's not used to being handled totally at liberty. Do not tie the horse, however, for this. Then, you bend over and ask for his foot. When he gives it to you, then you wait until you feel the horse relax and "give" you the weight of the foot. Then you work it backwards and downwards until the animal will permit you to set it down on the rim of the toe. Then you work to get him to just hang there, so that the rim of the toe is on the ground. When he will do this (assuming you're on the left side of the horse, working with the left hind leg), you rise up with your right hand, placing your right hand flat against the stifle area of the thigh. At the same time, you place the flat of your left hand against the inner surface of the left hock, against the bones. You must not "pull" with this hand; it is merely there to steady things. With the right hand, the one that's against the stifle then, you give a swift yet soft push inward. This will cause the limb to rotate or swivel in the hip socket. The inward push "tells" the adductor muscles, or you might say it reminds them, of what it feels like to be in release, to not work. After you've pushed inward once or twice, just stop and pet the horse on the croup for as long as he'll stand there relaxed with the rim of his toe still against the ground as a pivot-point. He'll smack his lips and eventually shift so that he's standing on the sole of the foot. At that point, you go over and do it on the opposite side. Do this twice per day, every day or nearly every day for six weeks, and see the difference in the way the horse moves.

(2) He also needs to be taught, and practiced in, untracking the hindquarter, or stepping under the body-shadow with the inside hind leg. You can do this per instructions given several times in different places in this Forum -- that would be from the ground -- or you can do it from the saddle. You need to do it from both places, and under saddle, it needs to be integrated into everything you do "before" you do something that has a name. In other words, you do this to some smaller or larger extent "before" you .... go into a corner to make a turn....stop....make a circle....make a serpentine bend....do a leg-yield....take three steps backwards....start a shoulder-in....make a quarter-turn on the forehand.

"Wringing" hind limbs are particularly common among the gaited breeds, partly because some of these animals really are "cat-hammed" with gaskins and/or total hind limb length that is way too long, and hence hindlimbs that are difficult for the animal to bring squarely forward behind its elbows. But it is also because gaited people typically do not do most of the things in the above list.

I have been reviewing once again this past week Eyjolfur Isolfsson's very excellent training tapes. He is Icelandic and trains primarily Icelandic horses. However, what he says and shows on those tapes is exactly right in the spot where most people who are trying to learn how to train a horse need to be made more aware. The ideas and exercises he presents are well within the capabilities of any ordinary person who cares about their horse. One thing he shows on there is gaited horses performing long lines in leg-yield, shoulder-in, and haunches-in while in gait. This is something I practice with my Rocky Mtn. gelding Ollie all the time too, and I am convinced that it is crucial to perfecting the amble, rack, running-walk or foxtrot. Please obtain Eyjolfur's videotape series -- highly worth anybody's time, no matter even if they had non-gaited horses. -- Dr. Deb

DCA
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 Posted: Sat Mar 15th, 2008 08:16 pm
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I'm sorry, I had realized my error in stating that she weights the outside of her hoof as a symptom of cow hocks last night after I was in bed thinking about my post.  I almost jumped out of bed and corrected myself, but because I am indeed seeing her weight the outside of her hoof in movement, I figured I'd just leave it. 

This is the main reason I thought she was bowlegged in the beginning.  I wasn't seeing cow hocks, but after reading your books again and restudying things, she seemed to fall more toward cow hocks than anything I could find.  Because I know there is something "off" about the way she moves, I'm sure you can understand why I've been so confused about her hind leg conformation.  I've never seen (or should I say noticed?) a horse move quite the way she does.

I have seen a "twist" as she moves.  Almost like she's rotating her hoof slightly inward just as her leg is about to leave the ground.  She does seem to be worse on her left leg. 

I will start doing the exercises you've instructed.  I am very interested to see how this changes her movement!  She is actually very good at untracking her hindquarters.  She can really bring her legs in and under herself easily.  She is not quite 3 years old, so I am not riding her yet and don't plan to until next year. 

I am ecstatic that you've recommended Eyjolfur Isolfsson's video series as I'm always looking for good resources!  Thank you very much!

 

 

nejc
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 Posted: Mon Nov 24th, 2008 02:29 pm
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My horse is wearing inside rim of the hind hoofs, He places right hoof at steeper angle then left hoof looking from above. He is cow hocked. As I understand the description in DrDeb,s answer- point 1-  is meant for bowlegged horses. Is the procedure just opposite for cow-hocked horses ?                               Igor             


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