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"funky" stance
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JeanM
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 Posted: Tue Mar 26th, 2013 11:55 pm
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I enlisted a friend to take some conformation shots of my mare (14 year old Andalusian/ASB, which I have owned since she was about 16 months old) for me to analyze from the "Conformation Analysis" book. Bonita initially took a weird stance, which is not uncommon for her although certainly not what a "typical" horse's stance is. She places one hind in front of the other, or even moreso. I'm including a photo of it from behind. (I also have a shot from the side, if it would be useful.)

The photos really brought home to me what I already knew -- Bonita is seriously in need of conditioning, after having the winter off. However, before I embark on a campaign of conditioning, I thought it would be helpful to get some input in case I should adapt to better suit Bonita's needs.

Maybe or maybe not related (I suspect it is, given her weak hindend), besides this "funky" stance, Bonita has a history of digging "ramps" for her hind feet in the dirt wherever she stands to relax/sleep, such that her hind heels are higher than her toes. This tendency has become much more common in the past few years.

She had degree pads in all four feet for several years. Last year, the farrier thought Bonita had grown enough heel to remove the degree pads in all fours, so we tried it. However, "we" put the degree pads back in her hinds in the next shoeing, because Bonita was standing too far under herself behind. She has the degree pads on behind since then.

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DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 01:15 am
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Jean, I'd love to see the side conformation shot of this horse, partly in reference to your queries but also because she's one of those relatively 'rare' types of crossbreds which are always of interest to me for use in my conformation analysis column in Equus Magazine and/or books.

Yes, I bet she doesn't dig ramps for her hind feet so much or at all after you put the wedge pads back on the hind feet.

It may be that this mare is a candidate for conditioning, but a major part of that conditioning should be stretching rather than strengthening. We'll get into that more deeply once you post the side shot -- I need more visual grist for my mill to help you out the best. -- Dr. Deb

JeanM
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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 11:36 am
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this "photo shoot" was also a "dry run" to get some confo. shots to send to you... preferably later this year, after Bonita looks a bit better once in condition (I know, it would make no difference to your analysis; it just makes ME feel better!)

I think the difference that the degree pads make has been that Bonita stands with her hind cannon bones more toward the vertical, instead of way under her. Unfortunately, I can't see that having them on has made any difference to her digging her ramps to stand on.

Another odd thing she does (geez, quite the list!) that I wonder if could be related is that one often can see her pectoral muscles flexing; I wonder if that is due to her shifting more weight to her front end to get off her hind.

anyhow, here is a side view of Bonita "doing the funky"

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Last edited on Wed Mar 27th, 2013 11:48 am by JeanM

JeanM
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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 11:44 am
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for comparison, here's a side shot of Bonita standing normally.
(I am struck by how much more I see from studying the photos than from the live horse! I'd never noticed before that big "divet" over her stifles)

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Last edited on Wed Mar 27th, 2013 11:51 am by JeanM

JeanM
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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 11:45 am
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and finally, not to overwhelm you... here's a shot from behind, showing her "normal" position

Attachment: 3-23-2013n2.jpg (Downloaded 333 times)

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 07:53 pm
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Jean, thank you very much -- the shot of Bonita standing "normally" will do very very nicely for purposes of publication. She looks just fine there.

The "divot" over her stifle is a normal feature of surface anatomy. It is the soft spot associated with the side aspect of the lower end of the quadriceps muscle complex, where it terminates above the lateral aspect of the patella. All horses have them; take a look.

As to the crossed hind legs -- there's no particular significance to this, either. Some horses learn to stand this way if they happen to learn to scratch one hind leg with the other. Most horses never learn to do this.

However, the "standing under" behind, the need for wedge pads, and the digging of the ramps for the hind feet is significant. What this signals is that the horse is trying to relieve what feels to it like excessive tightness in the tendons and other long structures that lie along the rear aspect of the hind limb, extending all the way from the lower back down to the bottom of the hind coffin bone.

There are two disease processes you need to investigate with regards to this: one is the possibility that the horse is developing navicular disease, and the other is that it is in the early stages of DSLD. That when you and your farrier removed the hind wedge pads she did not get any better is somewhat significant. Your veterinarian will have to be the one to pursue these ideas with.

"Just arthritic stiffness" is unlikely to be the cause. Arthritis does not cause horses to stand the way Bonita does nor build ramps, etc. However, no matter what is actually underlying the tightness down Bonita's hind end, there are some physiotherapeutic things that you can do to help.

The first one is to stop jumping her, not even over cavalletti. The last thing you need with this horse is to raise or increase the tonus on the hamstring muscles. Jumping requires the use of these muscles, and the athletic demand upon them can be, and often is, inordinate because the rider does not build her conditioning program right. In other words, there is far too much jumping and far too little of the right types of flatwork which would counterbalance the high load on the hamstrings.

The second suggestion is for you to learn -- and practice to repletion -- the correct types of flatwork. This begins with three things: (1) untracking as the basis for all bends and turns; (2) learning how to release the neck, jaws, tongue, and head through twirling the head; (3) learning to step the horse back one-step-at-a-time.

The third suggestion is to teach the mare the plie bow.

Finally, I suggest that you review and practice Pauline Moore's stretching protocol.

The stretching protocol, the plie bow, untracking, head-twirling, and stepping back one step at a time are all topics previously discussed at great length in this Forum. Use the Google advanced search function to find them, being sure to dub in our Forum address in the "limit search to" box.

After you've read this material, please feel free to write back for detailed help. -- Dr. Deb

JeanM
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 Posted: Wed Mar 27th, 2013 11:42 pm
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Thank you!
The vet's coming next week for annual shots & floating, and I'll describe what I have been seeing & raise the DSLD and navicular ideas with him.

I don't actually do a lot of jumping with Bonita (my avatar photo is misleading), but I'll take what little I do with popping over cavaletti out of the program.

What about trotting poles and what about hills? I will be hitting the trails again (aiming for a 30 mile LD endurance ride the end of this summer), and being New England there are hills to ascend and descend. Should I be seeking hills out, or trying to avoid them?

I've been working on "twirling," backing just one step (the challenge is to keep Miss Overachiever Bonita from doing more than one), and will be thinking about untracking; also I've been riding with the goal of raising the base of Bonita's neck.

As it happens, yesterday and today I started "teaching" the plie bow ... she does an excellent one on her own most mornings as soon as she sees me stepping out the door, but how to cue her to do it when I ask for it is still a bit of a muddle. I'm about to go hunting for the stretching exercises & the rest -- thanks again for the input on what to do to help Bonita!

JeanM
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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 11:39 am
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by the way, Dr. Deb, if you want the rest of the conformation shots (front, the other side, looking down on her spine from the roundpen fence; also they're full size & not reduced to fit the forum), just say so and I'll email them to you.

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 06:20 pm
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Yes, please Jean, that would be excellent. Send them to: office@equinestudies.org. Thank you! -- Dr. Deb

JeanM
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 Posted: Thu Mar 28th, 2013 11:05 pm
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Will do.

Note to self: think before typing; my brain finally caught up & if Bonita has DSLD, a 30 mile LD ride is probably not going to be a good idea.

I had an ahHAH moment as I was doing the stretches today -- I may have an explanation for the "funky posture": Bonita is giving herself a version of the hind leg abductor stretch!

Brandy
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 Posted: Tue Apr 2nd, 2013 07:01 pm
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FWIW:  I have been reading this thread with interest as my 23 year old appy x QH/TB stands like Bonita is standing while he's resting, eating, anything standing around.  I've had him since he was 6 and he's always done this.  I've always known it was odd but never knew what to do about it.  He will also land his feet this way at a trot, swinging his hind feet one around the other to land them in a single line instead of two.

Last night I put all my excuses not to do groundwork aside and concentrated on what's been suggested in this thread and others.

Lo and behold, when at rest, he stood square following last night's session, both while still online and after I turned him loose to graze again.  I feel like a fool who's light just got turned on, but it's clear that (again) in my attempts to get his to stand clear, that I was attempting to fix the symptom rather than the problem.

I'm anxious to continue this and see how it plays out.

Angelexy
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 Posted: Wed Apr 3rd, 2013 01:48 am
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Hi - Can I please ask what you mean exactly by digging ramps!?

 

Thanks Angie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Apr 3rd, 2013 03:49 am
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The horse scrapes up some loose dirt and then stands on it with the hind feet, in such manner as to raise his heels. They do this when they need to, if no other little hills of material are available, and even sometimes when they are, because they also like to stand in a certain orientation to wind and sun and in relation to shade. -- Dr. Deb

Karla D.
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 Posted: Fri Apr 5th, 2013 09:31 pm
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Dr Deb: Do you have any comments regarding the trim of the hind hoofs as a causative or contributing factor?


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