Question: I have a 4-year-old, 17HH Dutch Warmblood mare that’s got an odd angle to her back legs. When she stands, there is a straight line from hip to hock, but then it dives in. I want to use her for jumping, but something tells me (gut instinct) that those back legs may not take the work involved. Everyone at the barn tells me that her legs are big so there is no problem, and that I should be riding her by now. What do you think? Can I breed her?
Also, what exercises can I do to strengthen them without having to go over fences?
Answer from April Reeves: Good instincts. This appearance of a sharp angled hock is called ‘camped out’ or ‘sickle hocked’. If you were to stand the mare so that her back legs had a vertical line from top of hock to bottom of pastern, you would find that line would be pushed out behind the point of the hip. Some sickle hocked horses just stand with their back legs up and under, and some (camped out) stand with their back legs out. Sickle hocked horses tend to have too much angle to their hock joints, while ‘camped out’ back legs sit back from the hip line, with the angle more pronounced through the gaskin.