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Tell me about stifle conformation. Everyone always talks about evaluating lower leg conformation, but not much about the stifle.

Can you tell if a horse would be likely to have stifle problems (locking stifles) based on conformation?
 

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According to a quick google search, stifle problems can be more common in horses with a very straight hind leg, poor muscling, or developmental disorders.

But to my knowledge, the stifle is a pretty complicated joint on horses. My horse reached 21 years old without being lame a day in his life, and as soon as he was not very fit or ridden often, he would stumble pretty often in his hind end. I attributed this to overall stifle weakness; he isn't very straight-legged, and his conformation overall is good.
 

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Well, since the stifle corresponds to the human knee, one can imagine how complicated that can be, and how vulnerable it could become to injury if the surrounding muscles become weak due to lack of movement.
 

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Yeah, to straight 'through the stifle' is one 'conformational' consideration that seems to make it - & other joint probs - more likely. But according to some bodyworkers I've learned from, it is as much, or more, about the hips & the muscle... don't quote me but semitendinosus rings a bell... When hips are adjusted & that muscle(or whatever) is stretched, the stifle does not lock(unnecessarily).
 

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I am very concerned about the mechanics of the back leg too. Often I see where these horses have a very straight back leg. Or even if a horse cannot get it's leg up underneath when walking. Always watch a horse when it walks or trots out that it can place it's back hoof in the same spot that the front hoof was before. This shows that the horse has a good fluid leg movement that will stay sound.
Seeing a colt standing out in a pasture with it's back legs stretched out behind like a gaited horse is a concern to me.

Many years ago, I had a stifled filly. It has been so long ago as I was a kid, but seems the vet picked up the back foot and held it up high and tight for a minute, then asked me to lead her out immeidiately. She limped off. I took her to Kentucky for the stifle surgery, and it did work. But I would not want to raise a colt from a mare like this.

When I visit farms that raise cow horses on the internet, I often will see that they have a yearling left over from the year before, when the weanlings were sold. I often see them with bad mechanics in the rear end, but not always.

I hope this helps.
 
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