What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Hind Limb Bows Outward at Hock When Walking


Occasionally a horse will have an obvious bowing outward of the hock which is noticeable at the walk. When a horse with this conformation bears weight, often there is also an inward twisting of the hoof.

This observation is seen in horses of particular conformation, but it is also associated with certain neurologic conditions and weakness of the hind limbs. In my experience, this is particularly common in older horses that are weak behind (sometimes from presumed spinal cord compression) or in horses that experience chronic pain.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If this is a slowly but consistently worsening problem and you are unsure of the cause.
    • If you are considering purchase, be sure to have a purchase exam performed.
    • 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.

your role


What To Do

Observe the horse for signs of other abnormal movement, weakness or lameness by walking them in circles to both directions. Observe how the horse's limbs track at the walk.

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), looking for swelling along the neck that could indicate spinal injury, and looking for lack of symmetry of musculature left to right, along the back and top-line.

Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

your vet's role

With the history and physical exam, your vet considers whether the problem is interfering with the horse's intended use, and whether there is an underlying condition that explains this finding.

One of the most important questions is whether this sign has worsened recently. A neurologic exam may detect neurologic deficits and suggest that additional diagnostics be performed. Corrective shoeing may also reduce the rotation of the lower limb.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Do you notice lameness now?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Do you notice any resistance to bearing weight on that limb or other limb during the farrier's visit
  • Does your horse have a history of lameness?
  • Is the horse performing to your expectation under saddle?
  • Is the problem getting better, staying the same, or worsening?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP