Cowhocks and protein - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 6 Old 03-07-2013, 07:38 PM Thread Starter
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Cowhocks and protein

So I'm pretty sure this is incoreect, but there is a lady at the barn I board at who insists that her foal is getting cow-hocked because he is lacking in protein. Granted, this lady also feeds her foal unsoaked beet pulp and alfalfa cubes. I know they can be fed dry in small amounts, but she is using them as supplements for a foal. Back to the original issue, I was just wondering if there is any truth to her idea of protein deficiency being linked to cow hocks? I thought that it's a bone structure related conformation fault but it doesn't hurt to be sure.
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post #2 of 6 Old 03-07-2013, 07:53 PM
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its a conformation fault-- that lady really should keep in mind that too much protein for a foal isn't good-- it could stunt his growth, and lead to more problems later down the road..
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post #3 of 6 Old 03-07-2013, 07:59 PM
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conformational fault, probably has a cow hocked parent, or both may be slightly cow hocked and he got a whamy of it. She should make sure his hooves are trimmed correctly/balanced.. to much protien will cause to fast of growth and cause knee problems . Beet pulp is a good fiber feed, nothing wrong with alfalfa , it is what is fed here . Sometimes oat or grass but our hay is mainly alfalfa and its fed to horses of all ages and my horses now 6 - 11 were fed mainly alfalfa with some seasonal oat hay (usually in May) .
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post #4 of 6 Old 03-07-2013, 08:05 PM
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I have never heard that one. I do know that feeds that are too hot (too high in protein and other stuff that supercharges it as a "growth" formula) can cause a horse to grow too fast, creating problems with the growth plates and joints...such problems are common in halter horses that are fed up as weanlings to look like over-muscled 3 year olds.

However, cow hocks don't just appear due to too much protein. My guess would be either that the foal had a cowhocked parent and came by them honestly, or his feet are not being properly trimmed (if they are being trimmed at all) and that is causing distortion to his legs as he grows.

Everyone knows that proper trimming can fix some leg issues in foals but nobody stops to consider the opposite...that poor trimming can cause issues.
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post #5 of 6 Old 03-07-2013, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you guys for confirming my thoughts and also educating me further! I honestly do worry for this foal's health, but he's not my horse unfortunately.

He's an egyptian arabian x andalusian and is quite nice despite that fact that I wish his sire were a gelding. I think I found his dam, and if she is his dam then that is probably where he got his cow hocks from.

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post #6 of 6 Old 03-11-2013, 12:40 AM
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I think there is genetic predisposition for most things, and of course nutrition plays into proper development. However, I think babies should run in wide open places, especially hills, so their legs can be the "best they can be". As I have posted somewhere prior, my mare was cow-hocked as a filly, so I did what the old-timers say to do and put her on hilly pasture. And it did, in fact, improve. I think it would have improved more had she been on it from the time she hit the ground. Of course part of it is breeding, but to what degree it "developes" I still believe can be altered by open hilly pasture.

There is just as much horse sense as ever, but the horses have most of it.
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