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Cow hocked TB- can it improve?

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  • Cow hocked TB- can it improve?

    This is my first post, so please be gentle.

    I am looking at OTTB's and some young-ish unraced TB's for lower level eventing. Today I went to look at a TB that is 5 yrs old and well over 17hh. He was broke at 2, but never in race training or even registered. Now he's 5 and they pulled him out of the field 3 weeks ago and started riding him. I think they've pushed him along very fast since he has zero muscle- w-t-c and some jumping. He's also pretty underweight if that factors into it at all.

    He is a fabulous mover in my opinion, and he's also super laid back, which I like. The only drawbacks I see in him are a slightly long back and that he stands cow hocked. I think it is not a true "cow hock" since his leg joints all line up, they just face outwards instead of forwards sometimes.

    When he moves I don't see obvious twisting or anything, and I think he straightens up when in motion.

    So the questions are:
    1) is it possible that the cow hocked stance will improve with muscling and work?

    2) for lower level eventing asperations are there serious soundness concerns with a cow hocked horse if work doesn't resolve it?


  • #2
    No, his conformation is unlikely to improve-- but mild cow hocks would not bother me at all.


    • #3
      1) no.
      2) generally no. as long as it's not causing him to interfere, it wouldn't bother me. I would still vet him though.
      "Sometimes the fear won't go away... so you just have to do it afraid."

      Trolls be trollin'! -DH


      • #4
        My OTTB is a 10yo and ran from 2-6 (stakes placed) staying sound the entire time. According to the trainer, the only maintenance was occasional hock injections "for maintenance." He is quite cow hocked, we've brought him up to Training Level now and he's (knock wood) stayed totally sound. So it really wouldn't put me off. Plenty of those w/ 'perfect' conformation don't last nearly as long.


        • Original Poster

          Thank you everyone, I really appreciate your input!


          • #6
            I don't see it being a problem. My old jumper (schooled to 1.25-1.30 ish and did the Low Children's,) was cowhocked pretty noticeably (not horribly so but enough that it was obvious if he was standing) and it never bothered him soundness-wise or in his ability... As long as everything else is fine, cow hocks wouldn't worry me
            Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


            • #7
              Even if he is genuinely cowhocked I wouldn't be too concerned, especially if he has so much else in his favour.

              But, you mentioned that he is big, underdeveloped, undermuscled - so, I have to disagree (respectfully) that it won't improve. Sometimes it has to do with long legs and lack of mucle development.
              So it MIGHT improve.

              One of my youngsters as a 3yr old looked kind of cow-hocked - he was just big, long and lanky all over.
              He went on to compete at Advanced AND is now (still) competing as a Grand Prix Jumper. So it didn't hold him back...in terms of soundness or ability.
              A Fine Romance. April 1991 - June 2016. Loved forever.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks everyone for your help! I decided to buy him! I love his personality and since it seems that his cow-hocked conformation won't hurt him I went ahead and did it!

                Vetting him some time this coming week!

                Oh I'm excited!

                Thank you COTHers!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Right on Target View Post
                  Thanks everyone for your help! I decided to buy him! I love his personality and since it seems that his cow-hocked conformation won't hurt him I went ahead and did it!

                  Vetting him some time this coming week!

                  Oh I'm excited!

                  Thank you COTHers!
                  The big guy: Lincoln

                  Southern Maryland Equestrian


                  • #10
                    Best of luck with your new horse!!

                    You don't say if you have experience with OTTBs. Just a word of advice, as he gets fitter and healthier his personality may change and you may not find yourself with such a "laid-back" animal. Don't stress too much, this is a normal stage in the OTTB retraining process. Have fun!


                    • #11
                      There have been interesting articles the past two months in Equus magazine about sickle hocks and their relatives. The articles conclude that rarely are these faults a result of true conformation, but a posture the horse assumes because of pain or imbalance somewhere in the body. The remedy is always classical riding and correctly balanced feet. It would be interesting for you to take conformation shots upon purchase and again months/years later after correct work to see if they change.

                      And congratulations!


                      • Original Poster

                        Hi and thanks again all!

                        I do have experience with OTTBs and I'm curious to see what he'll be like when he gets more condition on him. I think he's going to be a lot of fun! I didn't say his exact height before but he is literally 17.2hh. I hope I never have to mount him from the ground.

                        This guy though isn't an OTTB- he never was registered and wasn't put into training. I'd say that he's probably greener than most OTTB's but he steers better.

                        I did read the Equus article and it really makes a lot of sense. That is a super article. Gives me hope that he'll come around with the right program. Right now this guy is back sore from a poorly fitted saddle and a lot of work with little muscling or prep. Which adds up to him standing under himself at times to protect his back/hind end. Maybe it contributes to the cow hocked look too?

                        I can't wait to get him home and get him started in his new life!

                        No pics to post- sorry I didn't get any that look even remotely presentable. I did a youtube video of him but I'm way too embarrassed to post pics of myself riding in public.


                        • #13
                          Welcome, and congrats on finding a horse who called to you!

                          We've had a discussion several times here where quite a few of us have found the true athletes are often how you describe - joints are aligned, but entire leg is rotated. It is not the traditional correct conformation, but appears to allow the stifle to more easily clear the horse's barrel as it brings its legs forward.

                          My dressage horse is the most athletic horse I've ever ridden. He went training, schooling prelim regularly, and was schooled over a few advanced fences (I think -that part of it's hearsay for me), and hasn't had problems related to the angle of his hind legs other than the fact can bring them up under him ridiculously far under himself, so I have to be careful not to let him collect *too* much as he's developing strength or he ends up muscle sore.
                          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.