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Home First Posted Nov 5, 2020
Jul 22, 2010

Horse Conformation Defects

by Debora Johnson


The following link will provide hind end conformation and skeletal images, as well as some discussion: Hind End Leg Conformation

Sickle-hocked or Camped Under Horses who have too much angle or set to their hocks are referred to as sickle-hocked. The horse's leg stands under the hip from the hock down. There is an excessive angle to the hock. If you look carefully, the hind leg forms the shape of a sickle. Many sickle-hocked horses are smooth in their gaits and tend to be good athletes. In fact, many gaited horses have been bred to be sick hocked (not excessively) so that they can "get under themselves" to facilitate a longer stride from back to front. smooth, gliding motion in a four-beat gait. It is fast, "big lick" and comfortable to ride. However, sickle-hocked horses are predisposed to problems such as strain on the hocks, curbs, throughpin, and bog spavin. Sickle hocked horses tend to interfere at the trot. They are often cow-hocked, making for a severe hind leg deficit. That can lead to unsoundness.


From the back you can see that he hocks are pointed inward while the feet are pointed outward. This conformation places strain on the inside of the leg. It often is the cause of bone spavin. When the horse moves his way of going will show that the ind legs move upward and outward. They do not move straight ahead. This is considered a weak conformation.

Camped Out

In a camped out horse if you draw a straight line from the buttock to the ground the hind leg will be carried behind the vertical line. This conformation makes it difficult for the horse to get under himself and has trouble with collection. A horse with this conformation will have a problem pushing off for jumping. These horses are often associated with upright pasterns.

Straight Legs For More Information: Equine conformation