Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Excessive Bend in Hocks, Sickle Hocks

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If you are considering purchase, be sure to have a purchase exam performed.
  • If you want information on how to manage horses of this conformation to reduce the likelihood of lameness.
  • To ensure a correct diagnosis, have your vet examine the horse.

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • If you want information on how to manage horses of this conformation to reduce the likelihood of lameness.

Sickle hocked conformation is common in Quarter Horses and draft breeds. Mechanically, sickle hocks place the hind feet far forward, engaging the hindquarters. It is an advantageous conformation for pulling and some other disciplines. It is common and desirable in draft breeds. Care should be taken to have a purchase exam done before buying a horse with obviously sickle hocked conformation.

It can also be the long term appearance of a horse that has had collapse of the hock joints following having hypoplastic (underdeveloped) tarsal bones as a foal. That condition ultimately often leads to chronic arthritis and lameness, and may lead to fusion of the lower hock joints.

Excessive sickle hock conformation loads the front part of the hock and predisposes the development of hock arthritis and strain of the tarsal plantar ligament (curb). That said, many horses with moderate sickle hocks are able to perform well at their chosen discipline.

WHAT TO DO

If your horse has sickle hocks, talk to your vet about your intended use and how you may minimize the disease processes associated with this conformation.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet considers this conformation as a factor when they evaluate your horse for lameness or purchase.

What Not To Do

Do not attempt to normalize conformational faults through corrective shoeing or trimming without expert advice from qualified farriers and your veterinarian.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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