"Light bone" question - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 01-01-2014, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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"Light bone" question

From what I read on the conformation threads "light bone" is being critiqued quite commonly, and seems to be a concern for soundness. I agree that it doesn't look nice when a massive body stands on toothpick legs, but how often is it actually the light bone structure that makes a horse unsound, when the conformation is good otherwise?

It seems like most soundness issues are either tendon / ligament related (in which case I would suspect that position and structure of the joints have more impact than just bone), arthritic (same, would suspect this to be a result of joint structure and stress through work rather than bone), or things like navicular, founder etc, which aren't directly related to bone density either.
The only thing I can come up with that has directly to do with the bone are splint fractures, but even there I'm not actually sure it has anything to do with the horse being light boned. The other thing I can think of is actual bone density, but that would be impossible to see from conformation photos and would require x-rays like for women with osteoporosis...

So in the end, I would suspect that a horse with lighter build, a correct conformation and decent bone density is far better off than one that has bones like a tank, but other conformational flaws...

Am I completely off here?
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post #2 of 4 Old 01-01-2014, 06:34 PM
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I would agree with you. However it comes into play when you have say two TB both same height, confo, etc and you have a heavy rider (like myself) at over 200 lbs jumping them. There is a much greater stress on the horse with less bone and this could create soundness issues. At least this is how I understand it. So as a heavier rider looking for a horse with good bone is very important. (To my understanding)
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post #3 of 4 Old 01-02-2014, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
So as a heavier rider looking for a horse with good bone is very important.
correct. Also if your looking to do something very hard on the horse physically (jumping, cross-country, reining, cutting, etc) good bone is an asset.

Quote:
massive body stands on toothpick legs
disproportionate mass to skeletal structure is always bad. You wouldn't take a typical light boned, small, ladies horse type of mount and throw a 300lb rider on them and expect them to be happy or sound. Those massively muscled, tooth pick legged horses are pretty much in the same position, but carrying 300-500 extra lb of muscle, 24/7. a horse with the bone they have should be 7-800lb, they are actually in the 1200-1500lb range.


Quote:
The only thing I can come up with that has directly to do with the bone are splint fractures, but even there I'm not actually sure it has anything to do with the horse being light boned. The other thing I can think of is actual bone density, but that would be impossible to see from conformation photos and would require x-rays like for women with osteoporosis...
A light boned horse will have smaller joints and such to match. I think its a bit like building a structure. You can build a very light structure that's strong. if the framing is done correctly, with a light but strong material, and jointed properly, it will be strong(like a well built but light horse) if you then proceed to use all the heaviest materials to roof, cover and drywall, that strong good frame will collapse(like a horse with overly light bones for its structure.) If the building had a solid frame made of thick beams and good joints, and its roofed and covered with sturdy materials, it can withstand anything, but will be heavy. bad joints at any point will eventually bring down the whole house.

Most of the time people are commenting on a horse being 'light boned', its in relation to the rest of its body, not to the actual bone size. what would be light boned in a draft would be very solid bone in a riding horse. The smaller bone and joints mean that the rest of the body should be proportionate, and breeders have made the mistake in recent years of not keeping this in mind when breeding most saddle breeds(qh, paint, appy, Arabian, thoroughbred, etc.)

Too light of bone is like building a pickup truck for hauling heavy loads, but using a frame and shocks from a small car. it will break down. in the case of a horse, the soft tissue(joints, tendons) fail before the actual bone does.

Last edited by BlueSpark; 01-02-2014 at 01:57 PM.
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post #4 of 4 Old 01-02-2014, 04:53 PM
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^Great post! Very informative.

The sensitivity of the internet baffles me.
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