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Kathy
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Hi Dr Deb

 

The question was raised at a (Arabian) conformation workshop regarding why an Elk Nose should be a penalised.  My question is what/if any structural problems would a Elk nose cause to a horse.  My initial reaction to the questions was it may obstruct air passage ways.   Please walk me through what the skeleton would look like with an Elk nose, so that I may have a clearer picture of what is going on.  Or is this purely a vanity problem, with the owner/breed registry and the horse can lead a normal healthy life? 

 

Kathy

DrDeb
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Kathy, old bean, they come up with stuff all the time, don't they? I have heard of "elk neck", but I've never heard of "elk nose". You're going to have to give me the particular description on that one. I wonder if this is not a confusion? -- Dr. Deb

Forgewizard
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Dr. Deb n Folks,
I wonder if they are talking about grease applied to the noses of show arabs? Do they still DO that? When I used to go to the Arab shows the grease applied at both ends of the horse was enough to supply McD's for Mcfries!

Other than that, unless some breeder has managed to cross  a member of the deer family with a member of the horse family - I'm atill wondering - what the heck is an Arabian elk nose?

Cheers,
Kim

Kathy
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Hi DR Deb

My understanding of an Elk Nose is when appraising the horse's head in profile, there is an arch of the nasal bone (convex) rather than a concave of a traditional arabian head.  This arch is only below where a cavesson noseband would sit approximately.  There are a few arabian families in Australia with this trait.  

 

Kathy

thegirlwholoveshorses
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I have heard of it refered to as a "moose nose," not specifically in reference to any one breed, but to any horse with that shape of nose/muzzle.  That related back to a certain author who worked to correlate shapes of body features to genearlized personality/ trainability factors.

Tammy 2
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Is this different than what some call a "roman nose"?  Which is pretty much the opposite of a "dish" on an arabian.

 

Kathy
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Yes it is different to a Roman nose as the arch starts where the cavesson noseband would sit and continues to the muzzle.  It definitely does not start from higher up on the head.

Fryslyn McGee
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I've always understood Moose nose as being bulbous below the cavesson line, as Kathy said.  Roman nose as convex between the eyes, or convex from poll to upper lip in the worst cases (seen some...ick!). 

I google-imaged "elk head" and came up with numerous good pictures, and it would appear that they are the opposite of Moosey, eg: they appear to be tapered, blunt, square, almost spatulate.  Not unlike other cervidae- ex: whitetail deer (which we have in abundance in Michigan).  Not something I'd like to see on a lovely desert bred mare!

On the other hand, what we call "moose" in North America are called "elk" in Europe, are they not?  I worked with someone who showed Norwegian Elkhounds, and her group refferred to them colloquially as "Moosedogs."

thegirlwholoveshorses
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Ah... so the "moose nose" and the "elk nose" are not the same thing then.  I have not been successful at finding a photo of an elk nose, though!

Tutora
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Hey Fryslyn! Though I started out favoring Arab heads as a kid, I now love convex heads even more...so I want to offer friendly disagreement about any "Roman" noses being "ick"! My handsome Andalusian/Percheron Aquila, the eagle, with his chiseled aquiline profile, agrees with me...especially as he was just called "the bomb" by a new admirer two days ago.--Elynne

Kathy
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I agree, it is not I would like to see on an Arabian head, but what I want to find out is "is it detrimental to the health/stamina/passage way of air of the horse".  From my research I am coming to the conclusion it is not acceptable in an Arabian show horse due to not being ascetically pretty, but is does not affect the health of the horse.

I have been unable to find a suitable photograph of this trait.  I dislike putting up photos that I have not taken as I do not like to dis-credit someone's horse over the net.  If I can find a photo I will post it (if I am allowed)

DrDeb
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Kathy, OK, now I understand what was meant. I know this trait as either 'moose nose' or 'ram nose'. It is different, as other correspondents have pointed out above, from 'Roman nose', which is convexity of the entire face from a point above and between the eyes all the way down -- in the extreme, this is called 'banana head'. But a ram-nosed horse may actually have a dish, rather than a convexity, higher up -- either between the eyes or just below them, and yet the lower part of the face, from a point somewhat above the nostrils down to the upper lip, is convex.

One of the most important progenitor sires in American horse breeding history, the Thoroughbred Sir Archy, had the ram-nosed type of skull. In him it was pronounced enough that he actually had a bump at the juncture of the nasal and frontal bones. Sir Archy passed this trait to many of his offspring, and those many offspring are now registered Morgans, American Saddlebreds, and American Standardbreds. They are excellent horses on which the Arabian type of head does not belong.

If you will review my book "Conquerors", you will also see that the ancestral Draft population (by which I mean Draft capital "D", the bloodline in existence in western Europe prior to domestication) also possessed this head configuration, and it shows up in many of the descendants of this ancestral population, vis., the many modern breeds that are wholly or mostly Draft. They too are excellent horses on which the Arabian type of head does not belong.

Now, what is the Arabian type of head? It is a sub-type of the Ox-head configuration that I discuss in "Conquerors". As the Arabian breed is the YOUNGEST of all the Asian breeds, so also its head shape is derivative of head structures that existed in western Asia before the Arabian horse was developed from those populations. In other words, you need to remember that the Arabian horse is not the oldest horse breed; it does not go back in pure form to the Pleistocene or to a time before domestication. The Arabian horse, at the very earliest, was developed in the 8th century A.D., and it was developed by Muslim men to suit their own needs and tastes.

Those needs and tastes were three: warfare; racing; and travel undertaken in an arid part of the world. So, the originators of the Arabian breed and their sons, and their sons' sons, selected hardy horses from pre-existing herds in northern Iraq, southern Turkey, Syria, and to a minor extent, Egypt. Particularly the Egyptian bloodlines tended to have big (inflated) frontal sinuses. The pre-existing Ox-heads already had the other important structural characteristic, which was a negatively-flexed internal skull axis. It is this which creates the basic framework for the 'dish'. In other words, Ox-headed horses have a negatively bent skull, but they lack the inflated frontal sinuses which give the Arabian horse its bulging forehead contour or what is called in Arabic the 'jibbah'.

Not all horses of Arabian bloodlines in Asia have the jibbah. Many have flat foreheads -- flat all the way down from a point between the eyes to the central cartilage that supports the nares. A few hark back to the old Ox-head, even though they are Arabians (Arabians come from somewhere -- don't forget that part). Americans who have come over to Asia in order to cajole Muslims into selling them some bloodstock have universally wanted the type with the jibbah, although sometimes, if the horse is exceptional in other ways, they will settle for one with a straight face. The Muslims laugh at this because, as in so many things, they perceive us as superficial and ignorant of the deeper truths, and often it must be admitted, they have been correct.

So the cutesie-pie, foreshortened head with a so-called 'teacup' muzzle does not exist to any extent, and is not greatly valued, in Asia. The Muslim men who breed Arabian horses expect them to race or endure, and this is something that cutesie-pie pasture ornaments tend to not be good at. But in America, in those cases where they exist for show, they can be worth big money. I am telling you this so as to support you in 'getting real' in your attitude toward the Arabian horse and its head. The head of the horse is not the most important part about any horse.

The recent trend to put foreshortened heads, that look like pinheaded cows, on Quarter Horses, Morgans, Saddlebreds, Walkers, and other noble old breeds is sad and wrongheaded -- not only do 'extreme' heads interfere with the horses' ability to breathe properly, but they are associated with very high incidence of dental abnormalities. So no, Kathy, it is not the 'ram headed' horses who can't breathe or perform; these problems are far more likely to occur with small-headed, fine-muzzled, short-muzzled, or highly flexed or "dished" configurations.

If the reasons why the 'ram nosed' horse is superior are obscure to you or this explanation is hard to follow, perhaps you'd like to come on and sign up to be in one of my anatomy classes. After that, you won't be having any difficulty. And if the history interests you, maybe you'd like to give "Conquerors" a look....it's a pretty good read, I've been told. -- Dr. Deb

Last edited on Wed Feb 18th, 2009 09:22 am by DrDeb

Fryslyn McGee
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I knew it!  Thanks Dr. Deb for pointing out that the Baby-Doll heads the stock horse folk are so enamored with are "not right," I've been arguing about that with my stock breed buddies for years.  I return to the fray better armed now...

Oh, and Tutora, when I say roman noses are "ick," I refer not to the noble & glorious aquilinity of the Iberian horse, or a slighly strong profiled draft horse (our Percheron stallion, for example) but the bone headed nastiness of a low-bred, common as dirt backwoods draft horse (yes, I'm a bit of a snob).  I prefer a flat profile- my two year old (my avatar) has a profile proofed by a laser level and a nose length proportionate to her rangy, beautifully modern self.

Andi Bartnek
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Interesting synchronous timing on this thread - just as I am contemplating a new bump that appeared on my Andy-TB's nose about a month after having a sinusotomy for a cyst. It appeared an inch or two below the surgery site, is hard feeling but no heat, doesn't seem to bother him any - just THERE. Vet had no explanation on it either, so we don't know if this will be his new look forever, or if it will resolve and reduce over time. So Dr. Deb, any ideas on what underlying structures might be involved here? Thanks for any guesses.

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Tutora
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Okay, Fryslyn, I get you--and I completely agree with you about the baby-doll stock horse head idiocy! I was almost in shock the first time I saw a QH mare bred for that type of head. As Dr. Deb said, my vet has also mentioned the dental problems caused by such fatuous breeding policy inflicted on horses. (I felt the need to use the word "fatuous" today.) --Elynne 

Kathy
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Hi Dr Deb

Yes you have helped me considerably.  On this matter and on a few over the years.  I have had the privilege of attending your dissection clinics at Canunagra, Queensland in 2006 and 2007 and also a clinic prior to that with Ken Faulkner.  ( I was the one with the fox skeleton at 2007 clinic). 

I have your Principles of Conformation series, The Birdie Book, and many issues of the Inner horseman but not the Conquerors.  That is to be next purchase.

"Getting real" with my attitude towards the arabian horse has been an excellent and on going journey.  I am starting to understand the myths and legends that surround the arabian horse are not helping the horses or the breeders to make better breeding decisions. ie the length of head or extreme of a dish. 

Thank you again Dr Deb


Kathy

Dorothy
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Hello Dr Deb et al.

I know it is a long time since Kathy asked her question, and that I am rather resurrecting this thread, but I have a horse that I believe has a Moose nose as described by Dr Deb, and wondered if you would be interested in seeing him, so am attaching a photo of his head.

Please do delete it if this is inappropriate or too big - I think I have reduced the size sufficiently.

The horse is an Anglo-Arab, age 10, and he certainly does not have any breathing or wind problems!

Dorothy

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Dorothy
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I also wonder if this is of interest, Tango is a rising 3 year old Arab x ASB, and I think he may have the 'Jibbah' that Dr Deb mentioned.

Dorothy

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Dorothy
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....and lastly a classic Crabbet Arab profile.

24yr old pure bred Arab - a much flatter forehead, with little 'dish'.

(Dr Deb, you have met this horse in 2002, when my friend, Erica Lynall brought him on a course with you in Devon)

Dorothy

PS I hope it is ok to post things on older threads? I am gradually working my way through them, and finding many fascinating. There is another asking the difference between Chiropractic and McTimoney Chiropractic, which I can answer in some detail if readers are interested?

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DrDeb
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Dorothy, yes, all three are as you describe. In America, the proper name for a "moose nose" is actually a "Sir Archy head", as this TB imported in the 19th century and an important ancestor to several American breeds, frequently threw this shape of head.

The proper term in Arabic for the bulging forehead seen in example no. 2 is 'jibbah'. The Arabic term for the 'turnover' area at the top of the neck is 'mitbah'.

The Crabbet-bred has a diminishing muzzle, characterized by a thin jawbone. Horses descended from Serafix frequently have this type of head.

Andi Bartnek -- I have a special message for you with respect to this thread too, by the way. The bump on your horse's face we now know more about -- please see the most recent issue of Equus Magazine, where the condition (inflammation of the suture between the frontal and nasal bones) is discussed in the 'case studies' column.

And Dorothy -- if you would be so kind, I would love to receive copies of the three head photos you have posted, for future use in my column in Equus Magazine. The photos are excellent and the heads represent commonly-seen types, so their presentation in that magazine will benefit a lot of people. If you will send them, please size them about 4" wide at 300 dpi or about 15-25 inches wide at 72 dpi, if possible. Please send all conformation photos to: drdebphotos@equinestudies.org.

Thanks very much! And yes of course, it is just fine for people to resurrect old threads. I would rather have old threads resurrected than somebody start a second thread on a topic that has already been under discussion. -- Dr. Deb

Pauline Moore
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Hello Dorothy

Thanks for the offer to explain the difference between McTimoney chiropractic and other forms - I'd be very interested (couldn't find the old thread on this subject).

Best wishes - Pauline

Andi Bartnek
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Yes, I had already read that article in Equus and coincidentally, at the Alberta Horse Owners and Breeders Conference in Red Deer last month, one of the vets from the vet school at Saskatoon was talking about sinus conditions in horses. In talking to him, he felt the bump was the result of microfractures in the bone below the site where they cut the surgical flap to remove the cyst, from when they had to lever the flap open (they only cut 3 sides and break it on the 4th) and represented reprofiling of the bone to heal that. AND interestingly enough, rather like in the Equus article, this winter we have noticed that the bump is reducing in size. The vet's take on this was that quite probably it would continue to reduce and may even return to more or less normal profile in due course. Not that that is a big deal to US, but at least Mama Moose may not mistake him for one of her own when she's passing through his paddock!

Liz
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Hi there Dr Deb,

I'm new to this forum, recommended to me on a newsgroup, so if the following questions have been discussed before, I apologise.

Is there any scientific documentation available, regarding respiratory difficulties in Arabian horses with extremely concave "Disney" noses?

Likewise with dental problems?

Or are these just rumours? I have searched the internet and asked around, but nobody has any documentation.

I have briefly gone through the discussions here for the past two years and the only reference I can find, is the following written by you about a year ago:

"The recent trend to put foreshortened heads, that look like pinheaded cows, on Quarter Horses, Morgans, Saddlebreds, Walkers, and other noble old breeds is sad and wrongheaded -- not only do 'extreme' heads interfere with the horses' ability to breathe properly, but they are associated with very high incidence of dental abnormalities. So no, Kathy, it is not the 'ram headed' horses who can't breathe or perform; these problems are far more likely to occur with small-headed, fine-muzzled, short-muzzled, or highly flexed or "dished" configurations."


I'd be grateful for any information or links you might have. Thank you.

Liz (with 4 almost flat faced Arabians)

 

Jeannie
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A cute little Arab recently came to our barn , and as a friend and I watched him bounce around with his big eyes, I mentioned how childlike he appeared to me in his look and action, and wondered if that was a quality that drew a  lot of women to the breed, subconsciously. The woman who owns him got him after her children had grown.
      
                                    Jeannie

DrDeb
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Absolutely, that is a major driving force in American horse breeding. Look at photos of Arabs bred in Asia: where they whole breed is controlled by Muslim men. They do not commonly have big, bulging foreheads or huge doe-eyes. They do not shave off all the hair around the muzzle and eyes and oil the naked skin to "enhance" the appearance. They do not breed tiny, upwardly-bent muzzles. The Arabian horse of Asia has a straight or slightly bulging forehead, a muzzle of normal length and great depth, and normal horse-type eyes. I attach a representative image.

And given what Americans NOW know about Muslim culture -- which is to say we know much more about Muslims after 9/11 than most Americans ever did before that time -- how likely do you think that the "I-Dream-of-Jeannie" type costume worn in "Arabian" costume classes would be permitted in the homeland of this breed? Not on your life. Arabs who observe American Arabian horse shows just laugh, or else are outraged. -- Dr. Deb

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Seglawy Jedran
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They look like endurance horses.  So if the function of large sinuses, or in thise case a jibbah is to act as a chamber to help moisten 0% humidity air so the lungs don't mumify, and such a head is fronted by a teeny little nose with a concave drop to it, wouldn't the teeny nose actually restrict the amount of air coming in- which would defeat the purpose of being able to.'drink the wind.' In contrast a strait nose with highly distendable nose flaps would get large amounts of air in much like a ram induction hood scoop on a dragster engine, if i understand it correctly.
thanks
Bruce Peek

DrDeb
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Yes, Bruce, the jibbah is there as a bulge because the frontal sinuses beneath it are large. This is the same dry-climate adaptation that we see in other species of mammal that live in deserts: i.e. go look at the head of a donkey, a gerbil, a jackrabbit.

The other thing that all these forms have in common, including the subspecies of Equus caballus from which the Arabian breed is derived, is long ears. Only American breeders put teeny little ears on horses, especially stallions. The normal and original form for the Arabian's ear is long and narrow. This is a heat-loss adaptation.

The major objection to American breeders' practice of reducing the length and diameter of the Arabian horse's muzzle is not that it reduces air intake. Reducing the size of the muzzle, and also bending the long axis of the skull to produce a more pronounced-looking "dish" and/or to create "cuteness" or greater juvenility in the appearance, CAN act to reduce air intake but not in 99% of cases so much as to make a noticeable difference in the horse's ability to breathe.

What is really a problem with cutesie-pie Arabian heads, and also with the same in miniature horses, is that the smaller you make the head, the less room there is for the proper eruption and occlusion of the teeth. Only among Arabians have I ever seen what is sometimes diagnosed (mis-diagnosed) as an 'intra-nasal hematoma', i.e. a big blood blister that develops along the internal margin of the nasal passage. This lesion IS a hematoma, but that isn't the most important thing to know about it. Its real nature is that it is the "backside" of an erupting superior molar tooth, which, having no room to erupt properly, has rotated so that the roots become oriented too much medially, press upon the thin septum that separates the nasal chamber from the maxillary sinus into which the tooth should be projecting, so that it instead pushes against the partition, deforming it inward to create the bulge in the wall of the nasal chamber. Incoming air then beats against the mucosal lining covering the bulge, creating a hematoma in those tissues which is merely secondary to the problem with the tooth. The proximal cure for this situation is not surgery to remove the hematoma, but surgery to remove the tooth. The ultimate cure is to quit breeding horses with tiny, upwardly-bent muzzles. Women who cannot get off this trip deserve a whipping IMO.

Likewise -- apart from miniatures which have an extraordinarily high frequency of pathologies of all types -- among normal-sized horses the highest frequencies of eruption problems and malocclusions occur within the Thoroughbred and Arabian breeds. TB's have problems not because their heads are short with teeny muzzle diameter, but because they have bred the lower jaw off of them: note how thin the mandible is on most TB's. Inbreeding plays a role with the TB also, as it does with the Arabian.

We need to note also that eruption problems and malocclusions are also frequent among QH's, Appys, and Morgans when these breeds (as they now often are) are bred with the idea that the 'ideal' head is that of an American Arabian. So it isn't the breed per se that matters here; it's the actual size and shape of the head, its structural configuration.

The breeds least likely to experience these types of problems are, by contrast, draft horses, Lippies, old-fashioned Appys, Andalusians, Mustangs, Criollos, and all other Iberian-related breeds. These horses have normal-length muzzles with big terminal diameter, deep jaws especially anteriorly, and straight or slightly convex skull axes/frontal profiles. Any horse of any breed whose skull has this configuration will also have a lower chance of problems, i.e. Asian Arabians such as shown in the photo.

I attach another most interesting example: this is a Jordanian Arabian that I once knew, a most noble and incredibly athletic individual, bred by and once the property of the King of Jordan. His is an ideal head! -- Dr. Deb

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Seglawy Jedran
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Wow- he looks happy, and wise at the same time. He also looks tough and hard enough to pound nails withand still keep going.
Best wishes
Bruce Peek




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