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Toeing-in - Is it Hereditary?

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  • Toeing-in - Is it Hereditary?

    Sorry if this has been asked before, but I can't find anything when doing a search.

    How hereditary is toeing-in? Would you let it slide for a well bred mare? Both sire and dam were straight. All other siblings have had straight legs. I haven't seen how toed-in she is yet, but I have seen a video and she appears to travel straight and it's not obvious.

  • #2
    Personal exp. I have a mare that toes it pretty bad (she scored a 5 for her legs which is as low as she could go and still be approved with the ATA). I've bred her to 2 different stallions and have 4 kids on the ground (she is in foal to 3rd stallion for 5th foal). None of her kids are as toed in as she is, and only one toes in at all. Go figure the ones that have the straightest legs were bred to a stallion with a toe out issue... Her kids have scored 7's or higher on their legs (that have been inspected).

    FWIW, the mare carted my rear end around jumper/hunter and dressage rings for YEARS with no issues from her front legs what so ever. And she doesn't interfere with herself at all... so a toe in is not as big a deal to me personally. Pick a boy with straighter legs and/or that doesn't throw a leg issue and if everything else is good breed her. I think I've read also that toe ins can be caused (or made worse) by poor farrier work - I'm not going to swear to that but for some reason that is resonating with me?
    Emerald Acres standing the ATA, Trakehner Verband, sBs, RPSI, and ISR/OLD NA Approved Stallion, Tatendrang. Visit us at our Facebook Farm Page as well!


    • #3
      Toeing in can also be the result of sidebone. In the old horseman's school, a toeing-in horse was always preferred to one that toed out.
      "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist


      • #4
        In my experience (no scientific data here-just observation!):
        if both feet toe-in, then it's likely hereditary
        if just one foot toes-in, then likely just the way they were laying in the womb

        I have 2 mares that toe-in on one front leg and, so far, neither has passed this on to their foals. Actually one foal toes out on the same front leg- go figure.

        I believe the reason toeing in is preferred over toeing out is because when the horse moves they paddle outward (instead of winging inwards), which is far less likely to cause the legs to strike into each other.

        I would have no problems breeding a mare with this issue if the rest of her was up to par, I would pick my stallions carefully.

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        • #5
          personal anecdote: my mare toes in on both fronts. In her case, it's combined with offset knees and a big splint on the worse leg, so she's not going to be bred, ever. (too bad because she's gorgeous and tries her little butt off, and is very smart and just enough challenge to keep this middle age re-rider learning, yet also very safe.) I heard through the Morgan grapevine that her dam had nice straight legs and didn't toe in at all, but every foal the dam had toed in, all by different stallions too. So that may indicate something genetic...
          You have to have experiences to gain experience.

          1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


          • #6
            My mare toes in fairly significantly, according to my farrier she has a varus deformity. She's had two foals. I'm pretty sure the first does not have it and the second absolutely does not. It's something that I wouldn't want to pass on, but I felt that my mare was going strong in her mid-late teens, so it obviously wasn't a problem for her. Corrective work can do a lot for very young foals; I was prepared to take a risk and be ready to try to fix it if the foal ended up with it. FWIW, my mare scored a 6 for her forelegs at her ISR/OldNA inspection.
            Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
            Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
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            • #7
              I've wondered how much the tendency is less hereditary and can/could be mediated or resolved early on with good farrier work. So many lower leg and hoof issues it seems could have been avoided just by good and consistent farrier care from an early age it seems. I know some people like to stick weanlings/yearlings/long yearlings out in the pasture and "just let them grow" and hardly touch their feet but then wonder when they bring that coming three year old in out of the field, what the heck happened to their feet? Duh, they wore unevenly, weren't corrected/balanced and now you have pretty fixed issues to deal with that just might could have been completely avoided. I concede I could be wrong, but having raised lots of babies, I've never had one that turned out duck footed or pigeon toed but they all had their feet trimmed regularly from the time they were babies, and kept balanced.
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              • #8
                Not sure if this is relevant but my mare has been a broodie for 6 years. She didn't toe in at all before that but does now pretty significantly. None of her foals toe in at all and I am hoping now that her breeding career is over she will revert over time with shoeing and correct riding.
                McDowell Racing Stables

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                • #9
                  I don't know specifically on toeing in, but correctness is relatively low on the heritability scale. It's more influenced by environment. You'll see some stallions in mayor European studbooks that are not correct still approved for breeding and even become inspection champions. Other conformation and type traits, gaits and jump are far more heritable and are the ones that should be the key criteria to select on in your breeding program. Correctness ofcourse not to be ignored, but since it's heritablity is relatively low it is something I can live with in a broodmare.

                  I have a mare that is an incredibly powerful mover with superb topline, fantastic ability to sit and engage, but she toes in in one front foot. She has had 5 foals, and her very best foal also toes in a bit. He has FEI quality gaits, and I'm quite O.K. with it No horse is perfect.



                  • #10
                    There is a well known study put by the Hanoverian Verband that indicated that correctness of the limbs is one of the least heritable traits.
                    I had a mare that was significantly toed-in (scored a 5 on her front legs) The mare was a super mover, fantastic mind and won everything in the show ring, so I took a chance and bred her. The resulting foal, Forte, is now 6 and is slightly toed in, but much better than her dam. Forte had a foal in 2010 and that filly is perfectly straight.
                    If you like everything else about the mare, I wouldn't let the toeing in stop you from breeding her. Just make sure you pick an appropriate stallion.


                    • #11
                      I know some people like to stick weanlings/yearlings/long yearlings out in the pasture and "just let them grow" and hardly touch their feet but then wonder when they bring that coming three year old in out of the field, what the heck happened to their feet? Duh, they wore unevenly, weren't corrected/balanced and now you have pretty fixed issues to deal with that just might could have been completely avoided.
                      Slightly off topic but I too am horrified by the breeders who don't get regular farrier care for their foals! At an inspection last year I heard a big name breeder (and stallion owner) mention that she really should get her farrier to take a look at one of her foals, as it hadn't had its first trim yet...baby was 5 MONTHS old!
                      Mine are checked at a week old so he can get a baseline and then we set them up for trims every 3 weeks for the first several months. To start with, the "trim" is really a tiny bit of rasping but it gets them used to the process and, most importantly, keeps them from developing any uneven wear patterns. My farrier is used by several vets in our area (on their personal horses) and he does tons of continuing education. That knowledge and experience is priceless!

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                      • #12
                        Many, many toed in babies are due to uterine positioning. There was talk about foals whose front legs are crossed in-utero vs being folded during development.
                        Oldenburg foals and young prospects
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                        • #13
                          I bought a filly in Germany after seeing 2 videos and had a full vetting done and nobody bothered to tell me the horse toed-in significantly. I found out when I went to pick her up in quarantine. I decided to breed her and see what happened. She reliably produced the straightest legged babies every year. None of her offspring ever had ANY leg deviations. One of her fillies just had her first baby this year and the resulting colt has textbook perfect legs as well.


                          • #14
                            My big draft cross colt born this year was pigeon-toed when first born but straightened out perfectly within two weeks of birth, for whatever that's worth.
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