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View Full Version : Back at the knees in a (possible) upper level prospect--deal breaker?



Dr. Doolittle
Apr. 21, 2010, 10:31 AM
One of my students is working with a (never raced home bred) 5 year old TB mare (huge, 17 hands and about 1,400 lbs), and she is hoping to bring the mare along, possibly targeting the upper levels at some point in the future. (And yes, I did tell her that it's a crapshoot--and there's no way to tell in advance whether a youngster is going to have the "stuff" to get there--until you start competing them seriously. ANYTHING can happen, there's no crystal ball, all that stuff ;))

This mare has good bone and big feet, but is noticeably back at the knee, and slightly bench-kneed as well. Other than that there is really nothing wrong with her, conformationally, and she moves well, seems athletic, and shows promise over small fences.

I asked my vet (also an eventer) whether she thought this was would be a concern in terms of moving up the levels with this horse, jumping bigger stuff, doing more galloping and conditioning, etc.--since I was under the impression that it put more strain on the suspensories. The vet's opinion was that this conformational fault was more apt to result in *knee* injuries (in race horses, horses galloping at speed, etc.)

My worry is the horse's size, and the strain this will put on these legs once she is in full training, down the road. (She has had very "low mileage", at this point...)

Obviously there are always exceptions, and there are worse conformation faults--but my student just wanted to have all the information possible before taking this horse on as a prospect and putting all the required work and time into her. (I posted here rather than in Horse Care because of the possible future career of this horse.)

Any thoughts, input, experiences? TIA!

eqsiu
Apr. 21, 2010, 10:35 AM
Back at the knees is pretty serious in a prospect that will be jumping. I would pass. The strain of landing and galloping can lead to bone chips in the knee.

wildlifer
Apr. 21, 2010, 10:51 AM
I would say it depends on degree. I see plenty of horses mildly back at the knee who compete and jump without any issues. Of course, the more pronounced it is, the greater the issue it presents and big horses by their nature put more stress on their bodies. Horses are such a measured risk -- your perfectly conformed wunderkind could run through a fence and kill itself. If that was the only issue with the horse, it might not be a big deal, if there are other issues....well, only the buyer can truly decide in the end. A very wise vet once told me that "you are buying the horse to ride, might as well stack the hand in your favour as much as possible while you still have a choice."

Bobthehorse
Apr. 21, 2010, 10:55 AM
Back at the knees is pretty serious in a prospect that will be jumping. I would pass. The strain of landing and galloping can lead to bone chips in the knee.

Agreed. Over at the knee may be ugly, but its usually not a soundness concern unless its quite severe. Back at the knee is usually much more of a weakness. If its quite noticeable, I would be concerned. The front legs take so much stress in our sport.

yellowbritches
Apr. 21, 2010, 10:57 AM
I would say that the bigger the horse the more correct they ought to be. The big guys can be hard on themselves as it is, so they should be put together correctly to help themselves out. I would pass on this one for a few different reasons (back at the knees, big, and a MARE :lol:).

Ajierene
Apr. 21, 2010, 11:00 AM
I agree with yellowbritches. The bigger horses tend to be harder on themselves anyway, no need to add a lack of conformational perfection to the mix. The horse may have the talent and scope for the upper levels, but my main concern would be a shortened career.

mcorbett
Apr. 21, 2010, 11:01 AM
Agreed. Over at the knee may be ugly, but its usually not a soundness concern unless its quite severe. Back at the knee is usually much more of a weakness. If its quite noticeable, I would be concerned. The front legs take so much stress in our sport.

agreed. the old horseman's addage about over at the kneed horses are that they are good jumpers (even heard KOC say it). I would worry much more about back at the knees.

mcorbett
Apr. 21, 2010, 11:02 AM
Agreed. Over at the knee may be ugly, but its usually not a soundness concern unless its quite severe. Back at the knee is usually much more of a weakness. If its quite noticeable, I would be concerned. The front legs take so much stress in our sport.

agreed. the old horseman's addage about horses that over at the knees are that they are tend to be good jumpers. I would worry much more about back at the knees.

Dr. Doolittle
Apr. 21, 2010, 11:31 AM
Yes, agree with ALL of this (and especially the "big horses are harder on themselves" thing; I have observed this being the case so often that I recommend "looking for small/medium sized horses" whenever I weigh in with my opinion to students looking ;))

I wish I could post pix--if so, I would have my student take a pic of her knees and put it out there for folks to see. (And the over at the knee thing, kind of a non-issue, in my experience. One of my best jumpers was over at the knee...)

yb, a MARE?!? :lol: :D Not a reason to pass (in my book), but then again, I deal with a lot of mares because I am a glutton for punishment, I guess...

eqsiu
Apr. 21, 2010, 11:56 AM
I like mares. The only problem with mine is that she's a touch slutty. :lol:

shea'smom
Apr. 21, 2010, 11:56 AM
As a totally random note, according to Mary King's book on King William, he was slightly back at the knee. Didn't hurt him any.

mcorbett
Apr. 21, 2010, 12:29 PM
you might want to browse through these articles and see what Judy says:
http://jwequine.com/conformation.html

eventingismylife
Apr. 21, 2010, 03:18 PM
I would be concerned for sure. Even if this mare had "perfect" conformation, she is probably going to break down faster than a horse a hand smaller than she is. Jumping by its self adds more stress to their tendons and ligaments on a horse that isnt back at the knee, so adding this conformation fault I would be pretty careful with this horse. She will be able to bow a tendon a lot easier, and get arthritis in her knees much easier as well. I would be very hesitant to push this mare towards the upper levels, or even prelim.

yellowbritches
Apr. 21, 2010, 03:20 PM
yb, a MARE?!? :lol: :D Not a reason to pass (in my book), but then again, I deal with a lot of mares because I am a glutton for punishment, I guess...
hahahaha...I knew that'd get a rise out of you! :winkgrin:

I am a big believer in "if you have a good mare you have a great horse" as I've sat on some VERY good mares and was spoiled at one time when we had three EXCEPTIONAL mares, all at the same time (I still plot on how I will get the little one back!). However, we have two right now, both very quality horses, one bred to the nines for the sport. That one is brilliant and fancy and sweet and has proven to be the BIGGEST PITA. The other one is dumber than a box of rocks and is the second biggest PITA. I lovingly refer to them as "Princess" and "DumDum". :lol: Needless to say, I don't have a very pleasant taste in my mouth, right now, for the mares. ;):lol: (If Princess comes around, though, she will be one hell of a horse!).

dwblover
Apr. 21, 2010, 03:23 PM
I have to say I'd be worried about a horse who is back at the knee. And I am not someone who is all that picky about conformation, especially if the horse is already doing it's intended job. But back at the knee is a red flag even to me. If she wanted the mare as a dressage horse it might be a different story. But jumping and eventing at the upper levels? I'd be concerned about those knees quite frankly.

Outyougo
Apr. 21, 2010, 05:07 PM
1+1=0

Noticably back at the knee and Bench knee = likely issues with Spints

wildlifer
Apr. 21, 2010, 07:59 PM
Oops, my bad, when I wrote my post, my brain had confused over at the knee and back at the knee. Over at the knee is the one I don't mind so much. Back at the knee, I would pass.

Dr. Doolittle
Apr. 21, 2010, 08:54 PM
hahahaha...I knew that'd get a rise out of you! :winkgrin:

I am a big believer in "if you have a good mare you have a great horse" as I've sat on some VERY good mares and was spoiled at one time when we had three EXCEPTIONAL mares, all at the same time (I still plot on how I will get the little one back!). However, we have two right now, both very quality horses, one bred to the nines for the sport. That one is brilliant and fancy and sweet and has proven to be the BIGGEST PITA. The other one is dumber than a box of rocks and is the second biggest PITA. I lovingly refer to them as "Princess" and "DumDum". :lol: Needless to say, I don't have a very pleasant taste in my mouth, right now, for the mares. ;):lol: (If Princess comes around, though, she will be one hell of a horse!).

:lol: :lol:

Yeah, one needs "extra speshul patience" to deal with mares...especially, um, the ones who are P'sITA. (Which would be, ahem--cough--most of them.) Your "Princess" sounds eerily familiar! Hmmmmmm....:D

When she is good, though, DAMN she is good. :winkgrin:

As for this prospect mare, I'm thinking that "she can always have a career in the hunters", and this is what I told my student. I'm concerned (as are others) with the SIZE of her, adding to the stress on her joints. Not an issue now, of course (but what is, when you are young and "low mileage"?), but down the road, it may indeed rear its ugly head. And maybe at the worst possible moment...

BTW, we are watching a Malcolm in the Middle episode as I type this (LOVE that show!)

judybigredpony
Apr. 22, 2010, 06:54 AM
Your not going to dissuede the rider from moving forward with horse until it goes lame in the knee.
Why not have her spend the money for a set of x-rays NOW as a baseline to work from.

With a big horse like that who has not experianced any pressure on the joint to perform, once in full blown hard core training jumping alot it will let you know.

Larbear
Apr. 23, 2010, 01:14 PM
This mare has good bone and big feet, but is noticeably back at the knee, and slightly bench-kneed as well. Other than that there is really nothing wrong with her, conformationally, and she moves well, seems athletic, and shows promise over small fences.



What do the feet look like (apart from big :))? That could have an impact on how she stands too.