Equine Conformation - What to look out for in a static assessment!

A static assessment is viewing the animal while standing still and ideally standing square. However, if your horse or dog consistently won’t stand square i.e. moving a specific limb/s forward or back or constantly shifting weight they are likely trying to tell you something!

When looking at the cranial (front) view of the horse and what to look out for during a static assessment:

When assessing a horse I find it easiest to work top to bottom so head to hooves!

Head carriage:

High head carriage – A high head carriage can lead to a lot of tension in the neck and back, often indicates a tense, anxious horse potentially due to pain. This will also shift weight off the forelimbs onto the hind if wanting to relieve pressure

Low head carriage – A low head carriage will shift the weight off the hindlimb to relive pressure if painful. Being in this position for a long period of time can over stretch the back, tilt the pelvis as well as effect hindlimb movement.

Muscle symmetry of the neck and chest:

Hypertrophic (over development) and atrophied (under development) muscles of the neck and chest help to indicate if a horse is favouring a particular side or not using themselves correctly

Upper forelimb placement and conformation:

Common conformational issues seen

Base wide – forelimbs placed wider (one the outerside) than the mid-line

Base narrow – forelimbs placed narrower (on the inside) than the mid-line

Bow legged – angle of the cannon bone (MC3) places the lower limb medially (inside the mid-line)

Knocked kneed – angle of the cannon bone (MC3) place the lower limb laterally (outside the mid-line)

Lower forelimb placement and conformation:

Toed in – the hoof is angled laterally (to the outside) from the mid-line

Toed out – the hoof is angled medially (to the inside) from the mid-line