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Why do some horses twist their hind leg/foot at the walk?

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  • Why do some horses twist their hind leg/foot at the walk?

    Hi Everyone,

    My mare (whom I suspect may have EPSM and is on the diet) twists her hind leg/foot out after landing, mostly noticible at the walk. She tends to do it more with the right hind than the left. It tends to be worse in deeper footing than on the hard ground. It is also more noticible when she is on a circle. Any ideas? Is it serious or can it lead to other problems? Vets dont say too much about it when I ask, but it really bothers me that she does this at times.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    no answer but i know 2 arabs that do it

    and would also love to hear the explanation.

    one of them recently went through a battery of diagnostics for a RF and LH lameness issues, including a bone scan, and as far as i know, hocks were in no way implicated in his lameness issues. but the twist is so dramatic that even his rump moves!
    http://www.eponashoe.com/
    TQ(Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or Move Over!!\" Clique

    Comment


    • #3
      My mare does that if she's overdue for a visit from her chiro. When her alignment gets out of wack her hind left twists like that.. it's a pelvis/stifle thing for her. After she's adjusted it stops immediately.

      Comment


      • #4
        Medial-lateral imbalance; high on the inside

        Hock wobbles or twists usually occur from improper medial-lateral imbalance of the hoof; high on the inside.

        Do you know how to assess the med/lat balance of the hind feet? Pick up a hind leg and hold it above the fetlock on the cannon bone. Let the hoof "dangle". Look down the "horizon" at the hoof med/lat balance. The view of the horizon should be level if the med/lat balance is correct. If the new is slanted or tilted one way or another, that means one side is too high. I hope this makes sense!

        Can you post some pictures of the feet?

        Comment


        • #5
          Not sure the exact cause, but the more dressage work Music does, the less pronounced it becomes.

          BECAUSE of the twist, both my vet and my farrier told me NOT to use studs on Music unless she is in severe danger of injury from slipping. The studs would prevent the rotation, and the twisting force would, instead, be exerted on the joints, with possible damage.
          Janet

          chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't know if it holds true for foot twists but whenever I see hocks twisting I give a series of estrone injections as it seems that its really looseness in the stifles that causes the hocks to wiggle. Its worth a try.
            McDowell Racing Stables

            Home Away From Home

            Comment


            • #7
              I can explain it

              Usually called "wringing the hocks" the twisting movement comes from the hind leg somewhere from hoof to hip being not straight somewhere. You can see it at the walk because the gait is most slow and the weight-bearing phase is longest and slowest. That gives you time to eyeball the way that the horse transmits power from the ground up. They do it at all gaits because it's built into the hoof and skeleton.

              So, yes, look at the hoof for the same distance from the hoof wall to coronet band at the quarters and heels of both sides. If one side is shorter than the other, that is both a cause and effect of something else. By the way, this shoeing intervention is the easiest, cheapest part of the solution.

              Uneven feet is usually an effect of skeletal problems higher up. Of the possible twists and turns each bone of the leg might take, the most common cause of hock-wringing is a rotational deviation in the hock. That means that the stack of bones composing the hock joint collectively make a slight cork-screw like turn. For horses like this (like people) they may not bear their weight perfectly evenly on the hoof wall, hence creating a problem in their hooves that the rest of their skeleton dictates.

              There are shoeing, correct riding and maintenance solutions for hock-wringing horses. Theoretically they are weaker and more prone to injury but in practice, I don't think it's a huge deal. I could be wrong just because I got lucky with mine.
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks everyone for the quick responses! Her walls appear pretty even and balanced. MVP what shoeing and mainenance solutions do you do? She will also just stand with that foot pointed out when she has these episodes.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Agree with shoeing solution

                  My horse has had the problem since he was 3 - I have a 1 degree wedge pad on the inside of his right hind - and he is great. I started him at a higher degree, but after they build up muscle you can lower it. No studs for him either. He has evented thru Training and is doing 2nd level dressage at 16 years old. Most vets frown on this solution and I have to say my farrier was not sold either - called New Bolton and talked to the vets/farriers and they all said it wouldn't help. But it did and if he goes without it - he will start the twisting in a couple of weeks. My vet is an old timer and says it works. And it does!

                  Good luck!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Wait a sec. So your mare doesn't move this way always? If so (and taking footing into account) your problem may have source other than a conformational defect built in.

                    She may do her "toe pointing" thing after hard work because she has stressed the muscles in her right hind a bit more stabilizing herself. Or she may point the toe in the left hind because her habitual way of going makes her push harder with the more stable-feeling leg. Make sense?

                    Ask your farrier to explain "angular deviations" and "rotational deviations" to you. These anywhere in the leg can contribute.

                    My horse-- where the rotational deviation is the most pronounced conformational flaw in his hind end-- typically lands on the outside heel and quarter then twists his hoof along the ground during the weight bearing phase of his stride.

                    That means, left unshod or not shod with this problem in mind, the outside heel and quarter will be shorter than the inside one. If your horse doesn't have this problem, you have probably done almost all you can with shoeing to correct the problem. My farrier also widens the web back there (outside quarter and heel only) to provide my horse more support there.

                    There is a 2006 article about this in American Farriers Journal.
                    The armchair saddler
                    Politically Pro-Cat

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      MVP,

                      She will go months and be fine. It seems when the dressage work gets harder to a certain level (ex. changes, collection) then it pops up. I was wondering if the weakness may be due to the EPSM. She has had some SI issues in the past but was doing really well with accupuncture. The standing toed out seems to correlate when the twisting episodes occur. It is definately more noticable in the deeper footing (Soft tissue?).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        this shows how to sight from the hock down:
                        http://www.thehorsemechanic.com/hoofcare.html
                        Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Thanks Buck22,

                          Great article!!

                          SRF1

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My horse with kissing spine used to do this twisting profoundly. Did it from the time I bought him up until recently.

                            The two things that changed were
                            1) I got his back problems under control. Spinal injections, massage work, new saddle.
                            2) I pulled his shoes. I don't know if pulling the shoes has anything to do with it or not, but based on the posts above, it probably does.
                            Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              If this were my horse

                              I'd look at her heel balance as the article clearly illustrates.

                              Then watch her walk from behind and also study her conformation standing still. If you think she's not perfectly straight from hock to coffin bone (and most are not), I'd ask my farrier what he sees in her conformation and suggests for shoeing.

                              For a horse moving up in work, working in deeper footing, more strength is required behind. Remember that the horse is transmitting force from the ground to the hip. Whenever that doesn't travel in a straight line (due to deviations) muscles need to do the work of stabilizing the leg. If she toes out, I'd guess that her stifles are taking up at least some of the slack for imperfect conformation below that. As I'm sure your dressage basis has taught you, these are big, open joints surrounded by comparatively little muscle. They take time to strengthen.

                              In any case, I'd ask my farrier to shoe her very generously behind, with a wide web, and perhaps some extra behind her heel. I would not ask for trailers intended to straighten the limb while it's on the ground. To do that would simply "stick" the hoof to the ground and increase the torque on the joints above. This is the same reason that the other poster pointed out that her hock-wringer shouldn't wear caulks behind.


                              Hope this works, and please let us know what you learn from your vet and farrier.
                              The armchair saddler
                              Politically Pro-Cat

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Janet View Post
                                Not sure the exact cause, but the more dressage work Music does, the less pronounced it becomes.
                                That's a big clue right there - most hock twisting comes from a muscle imbalance in the hindlegs and is best addressed with exercise and bodywork The muscle imbalance may come from previous trauma or conformational issue.

                                Uneven hooves from incorrect trimming however can also be a contributing factor, but is not the root cause in all cases.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by BornToBeRight View Post

                                  Uneven hooves from incorrect trimming however can also be a contributing factor, but is not the root cause in all cases.
                                  phew, glad you added that last clarification, otherwise I thought you were going to say that it is all due to trimming.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    My appendix QH with EPSM also twists at the walk. But he also has a slight gait deviation at trot where he will swing his hind legs out and then set them down. It is more pronounced on his right side which is his weaker side. When he was in steady, moderate work, this decreased.

                                    OTOH, my one TB gelding also twisted. He had some sort of undiagnosed lameness problem in his hindend. Vet thought something in his hips and he also had one arthritic hock. He did go better when shod behind and my farrier was very good at keeping him balanced so the twisting would subside somewhat but not entirely.
                                    ************
                                    \"And indeed the love that the horses of the Rangers bore for their riders was so great that they were willing to face even the terror of the Door , if their masters\' hearts were steady as they walked beside them.\" The Return of the Ki

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Fantastic View Post
                                      Hock wobbles or twists usually occur from improper medial-lateral imbalance of the hoof; high on the inside.

                                      Do you know how to assess the med/lat balance of the hind feet? Pick up a hind leg and hold it above the fetlock on the cannon bone. Let the hoof "dangle". Look down the "horizon" at the hoof med/lat balance. The view of the horizon should be level if the med/lat balance is correct. If the new is slanted or tilted one way or another, that means one side is too high. I hope this makes sense!

                                      Can you post some pictures of the feet?
                                      I am not certain if even usually true?

                                      I don't believe siting a foot like that would take into account limb deviations, would it?

                                      I have a horse that torques like that-no amount of trimming has fixed it. He is older, weak in his hind end and he twists.

                                      M/L imbalances certain can be one cause but there are others.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        SRF1 in gray

                                        My mare (whom I suspect may have EPSM and is on the diet) twists her hind leg/foot out after landing, mostly noticible at the walk. She tends to do it more with the right hind than the left. It tends to be worse in deeper footing than on the hard ground. It is also more noticible when she is on a circle. Any ideas? Is it serious or can it lead to other problems? Vets dont say too much about it when I ask, but it really bothers me that she does this at times.


                                        When a hind is landing flat on a level surface, if the horse is wringing a hocks, there may be a genetic component involved (e.g., base narrow conformation). Horses with this conformation must rotate their hocks abaxially as the hip passes over the coffin bone in order to move in a forward direction and sometimes present with flare to the medial side of the hoof. [Extra credit: Why?]

                                        On the other hand, when only the right hind is involved, if the hoof is noticeably lower on the lateral side when sighted along the SFT from hock to ergot, it might be the result of a phenomenon called "Right Handed Disease," in which the operator is allowing his rasp to get away from him, creating a relatively flat solar surface, but one that is tilted to the lateral side.

                                        Assuming a short toe, imbalance issues are usually most evident on a hard, level, surface. If your horse appears to be worse on one side in deep going, this presentation suggests the presence of some pathology, rather than DNA or operator error.
                                        Tom Stovall, CJF
                                        No me preguntes cualquier preguntas, yo te diré no mentiras.

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