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twisting hind feet on landing in sand
 Moderated by: DrDeb  
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ponyfire
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 Posted: Tue Feb 8th, 2011 05:53 am
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Hi
Can you tell me what would make a horse twist his hind feet inwards on landing in a sand arena, while at the walk? One hind twists worse than the other and the hocks appear to bend outwards.
This doesn't happen on a firm surface like grass.
Thanks
Robyn

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Feb 8th, 2011 08:22 am
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Robyn, I attach a photo that I took some years ago, of a horse doing what I think you are describing.

While it is true that the animal may show this twisting of the hindlimb more strongly when moving over sand, I assure you that he is doing it all the time to some extent.

"Wringing the hocks" is another term for it. The cause is rooted in the fact that the horse is not using his lower back properly. He does not know how, when moving under a rider, to 'round up' into a posture that will allow him to carry the weight and still be able to use his hind limbs normally.

The cure for it is to learn how to use the same exercises I speak of here all the time. The horse must learn how to back one step at a time, how to rate before a grid of ground poles and then how to negotiate the poles with rhythm and bounce. He must learn to untrack, to leg-yield, and then he must become proficient at shoulder-in.

None of this has even one iota to do with any form of competition. None of it is 'advanced' work. Rather, all of it is fundamental, the basic stuff that every horse must know in order to do his most basic job, which is, to carry a rider on his back.

It will also be beneficial in the short term for you to learn how to perform a groin release. Horses that wring their hocks have excess muscle tonus or 'tension' in two areas: the superficial gluteal muscle on the front-top area of the croup, and in the adductor musculature that is on the medial side of the hind limb, i.e. the muscles that are between the hind legs. Use the Google advanced search function to look up Pauline Moore's thread that explains in detail how to correctly perform limb stretching, and then also find the explanation I gave somewhere in another thread on how to do the groin release.

I tell you this with a little trepidation -- I do want to get your horse some help, but I also don't want you to get 'stuck' just doing manual manipulation. You bought your horse in order to ride him, and what is so very difficult to get modern riders to understand is, that the exercises of the Classical High School (those which I continually recommend, plus grids of ground poles or cavalletti) have nothing whatsoever to do with preparing a horse for competition. They CAN be used for that, and some people do use them for that; but their main purpose to me, as well as to the master horsemen who employed them three hundred years ago, was to benefit the horse physiotherapeutically. The exercises are meant as mounted physiotherapy. You therefore should be just as motivated to learn how to perform properly the exercises that are done from horseback, as you probably are to learn how to do the ones that are performed from the ground.


You can also go ahead and post a side view of the horse -- I know it might be rather difficult to take a shot from the rear of him that actually catches him in the act of wringing his hocks. But it will be easy, I predict, to see that the state of things with his back is not so very good, by means of a standard 'conformation shot' taken from the side, in good focus, with the light coming from behind the photographer. I expect to see loins that are strained, if not actually attenuated, and a certain stiffness, planarity, and angularity to the contours that is the usual picture presented by the horse that hasn't the faintest idea how to go about his MAIN work. Let's see whether it is so. -- Dr. Deb

Attachment: Forum Wringing the hock cprsd.jpg (Downloaded 410 times)

ozgaitedhorses
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 Posted: Tue Feb 8th, 2011 10:25 pm
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G'Day!

May I chime in here...
I noticed that one of our horses starts wringing her hocks (but nothing like in the photo above!) when the inside heels of her hind hooves get to long. Incidentally, a friend, who has been doing Bowen on horses for a while, noted that the horse was tight in exactly the area that you mentioned, Dr. Deb, on the front top of the croup. I'm now monitoring the horse closely to see what comes first, the tightness or the long inside heels. A chicken and egg thing, I guess...

All the best,

Manu

ponyfire
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 Posted: Wed Feb 9th, 2011 02:40 am
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Thanks Dr Deb
The horse in the picture is wringing his hocks much worse than what I have seen, but yes, it looks the same.
I do not own the horse in question, it was just an observation.
I will ask if I can have some photos snd pass on your suggestions.
Not knowing how to use his back makes sense as this is a stockhorse learning dressage with a young teenage rider, also learning. When they are on the sand they are having a lesson, when they are off the sand they are just riding out.

For years I have used poles as a warm up exercise and found the lumbar area loosens considerably.

I am currently reading a book by Karin Blignault called Stretch Exercises for Horses. This has brought home to me that the dressage movements we aim for are to assist the horse to be supple and strong and not a sign of great training. I think it is a shame there is so much emphasis on training to win and not training to develop and maintain a superb athlete.

Cheers
Robyn

DrDeb
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 Posted: Wed Feb 9th, 2011 08:59 pm
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Robyn -- OK, good, it's good to use stretching exercises. However, hopefully, you will not be doing any dressage. The Classical High School, yes; dressage -- ugh -- no. Many people use the terms interchangeably: don't you be fool enough to do that. Go get the "Inner Horseman" back issue from our Membership section, Year 2005, and study it up. Then you will know the difference.

You should also go back in this Forum and find Pauline Moore's wonderful illustrated post on how to correctly perform stretches. It is excellent, as good as any book, and she has generously made this available for free to all of us.

Manu -- You know from having heard me say it many many times, that gaited horses are particularly liable to not using their backs correctly. They get stiff very easily, and it was indeed primarily for the horse that was to be finished in gait that the exercises of the Classical High School were developed.

I appreciate your thought about it being a "chicken and egg" thing, but let me remind you that the inner and outer walls of no hoof grow at different rates. Therefore if you frequently find, with a certain horse, that the inner walls seem overlong, this will be the product of the way he has been moving. What it indicates is that the foot is fairly grossly out of medio-lateral balance. However, once the foot has been allowed to get out of ML balance, then it will work to prevent the horse from moving correctly.

Therefore, the rider/handler is always the most important and effective member of the management team for any individual horse. What the rider does "overwrites" almost anything else, shy of some very painful condition that the horse will naturally work away from. So with your horse that wrings the hocks, the prescription will be the same as for Robyn's horse, vis., to teach him to round his back and loins during weightbearing, and to add to that by teaching him to back correctly, to make transitions correctly and not just 'roll' into changes of gait, and to maintain a high and demonstrable degree of lateral flexibility, especially through the ribcage. Use cavalletti regularly and learn to rate the horse to a little higher degree of collection (i.e. to half-halt him) before he enters the grid. Add to that the direction that is specifically for the gaited horse: lay off of gaiting. Do not permit the animal to gait. Instead, practice in the long walk which is just 'below' where he breaks up into gait, and ride a lot of miles in that, alternating that with backing. Then on the day when you really do ask him for gait, you will get a very pleasant surprise -- enormous power and much better collection -- not possible if he's wringing the hind limbs. -- Dr. Deb

ozgaitedhorses
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 Posted: Mon Feb 21st, 2011 03:04 am
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G'Day!
I've stepped up the lateral exercises and backing and also added some 'passive conditioning' - poles around one of the feeders in the overnight yard, that the horses have to step over to get to their hay. And I was very pleased to see that the mare's plie bow has gotten better already!
No gaiting (or riding) at the moment - it's too much of a sauna here!
Thanks,
Manu


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