We just purchased a 4 1/2 yo gaited Morgan mare who is just lovely. The previous owner was very honest before my purchasing her that she was worried about how one hock slipped out (like popping out of alignment) when she was on uneven ground doing smaller circles. The mare seems oblivious to it. We had two vets check her who didn't really see it but she passed all rear leg flexion tests with flying colors. She is quite athletic and extremely light on her feet, like a dancer, perhaps due to the more flexible genes for gaiting. My husband does barefoot trimming and she had the typical long toe, long heel when she arrived (she was much worse a month before we bought her so she's had two serious hoof trims lately).
I noticed right away she appeared quite cowhocked when she arrived (especially on the popping-out left hock) and was dismayed that nobody, including myself, had noticed/mentioned it. When I did some research it seems that true cowhockness is not just splayed out feet but a misalignment between the hock and the cannon bones where the bottom half of the leg is not in alignment with the top. In her case, all the bones seem in alignment from the stifle from the ground -- they have all the same angled-out alignment. She is a bit fat, yet underdeveloped for her age given she had a baby at three years old (poor thing!) and was previously malnourished. We own her dam who is a very stocky Morgan and I wonder if perhaps our young mare's body just hasn't expanded width-wise enough yet for proper alignment of the rear leg joints, especially given she hasn't had any lateral work (only galloping straight on flatlands by her previous owner). Anyways, that popping out of the hock in circles on uneven ground doesn't seem to bother her in the least -- it's me who is disconcerted. I made a point to the vet at the pre-purchase exam that we are buying her for our rather rigorous mountain riding so am disappointed that she didn't mention this defect (or temporary developmental issue?).
We plan on doing lots of lateral work with her given she seems quite stiff in the poll, shoulders and hips. I know that might not make sense to some when I said she was flexible before, but her flexibility seems to be more like that of a loose-jointed jackrabbit going forward, not the powerful, controlled bending type in a barrel racing or dressage horse. .Any thoughts/suggestions??? Thanks, Sue