Tracking up and "stiff" hocks

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Tracking up and "stiff" hocks

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  • Horse stiff in the hocks
  • Horse very stiff in hock area

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    12-10-2009, 12:23 AM
Super Moderator
Tracking up and "stiff" hocks

I'm not really sure where to put this since I don't ride english anymore but these are more english concepts... So hopefully this is right.

I was wondering about why some horses track up easily and others don't. For instance, Lacey always tracks up or nearly tracks up at whatever gait she's in (except for when I'm making her jog but even then she still almost tracks up), but then I see posts where people have commented that the horse being commented on isn't tracking up well... I'm sure no one ever "taught" Lacey to track up since evidently no one taught her her canter leads but she just does. Why does she just do it when other horses don't? Is it a conformation thing? But then why does Lacey track up pretty well when most everything about her conformation (butt high, post legged etc) seems to scream hard to get to use herself?

And then, the other day someone critiqued a video of Lacey saying that she had very stiff hocks... What does that mean? How do you tell? Is that also a conformation thing?

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    12-10-2009, 12:39 AM
I think a lot of it depends on how they are trained initially and how they are ridden throughout most of their lives. Most of my horses don't track up except at the extended trot because I teach them to slow down and shorten their stride from the first few rides and that is how they are ridden throughout thier lives. Some horses are just allowed to trot along at whatever rate they choose and are never taught to do the nice easy jog that doesn't track up.
Conformation plays a part in it as well, a horse that is post legged or has a very short croup is not likely to be as capable of tracking up as one without these problems. However, proper training can overcome some of that and teach them how to use themselves to the best of their ability.

As for Lacey's stiff hocks, I think that might be due to the fact that she is post legged. Dobe is the same way and has very little hock action when he moves. Another thing is that she may have some mild arthritis that is limiting her range of motion.

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    12-10-2009, 10:18 AM
Green Broke
There are a lot of factors that go into that. Conformation can really influence that. Some horses will physically have a difficult time simply because of their build. The way they are using their hind end is also a biggie. A horse that doesn't use their hind end, such as one that is heavy on the forehand and/or not reaching with its hind, will often not track. And stiffness plays a factor. A horse that is stiff will not be able to reach as far with their hind end.
    12-10-2009, 04:03 PM
You don't "teach" a horse to track up. A horse with natural ability just will. This is also usually attributed to the horse having good hock action.

This horse has good hock action and swings nicely behind, thus allowing him to track up, even in the collected gaits (trot and canter) I didn't look at his walk but I'm assuming it's ok...
Another horse, less talented and not bred for dressage, but still with hock action

PS smrobs - horses do not "slow down" when they are performing a correct collected trot compared to an extended trot. In a correct collected trot - the horse is still tracking up and going at the same rhythm and tempo as in the extended trot. Horses should always track up and maintain the same tempo, no matter the gait or degree of collection (minus piaffe/passage, obviously).
    12-10-2009, 04:13 PM
Super Moderator
Anebel- That's why I'm confused! Haha You told me that she had stiff hocks and I I'm confused.
Maybe Lacey isn't truly tracking up? Here's a picture of her doing what I would call, tracking up:

Here's her tracking up at the walk... You can't really see her feet but if you could she'd be tracking up...

This is very interesting. I really want to understand! =)
    12-10-2009, 04:30 PM
Do you see how her hocks are straight in that moment?
A horse with good hock action in that moment has bend and instead of lifting so far off the ground to switch diagonal pairs, they will reach more.

That is what makes it possible for these horses to track up without going at their fastest possible speed.
    12-10-2009, 04:47 PM
Super Moderator
I think I see what you're saying... So because she has stiff hocks, she's unable to track up fully when she's jogging, for instance, and if her hocks were less stiff, she would be able to track up at a slower pace than all out trot?

Thanks for taking the time to help me understand!

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