Monday, March 16, 2015

The Equine Hock: What Horse Owners Should Know - Full Article

The “hock” is a horseman’s term for the tarsus, an anatomic region of the horse’s hind limb. Horses of all breeds, types, and disciplines can suffer from hock-related lameness problems, especially those that work heavily off of their hind limbs. This article discusses basic hock anatomy and function, describes desirable hock conformation, and discusses common lameness problems associated with this area.


A horse’s hock is the evolutionary equivalent to the human ankle. When looking at a horse from the side, the point of the hock is the backward-pointed part halfway down the rear limb. Over millions of years of evolution, the ankle and part of the foot of the early horse raised off the ground, leaving the horse walking on the tip of its third toe. This evolved into the hoof. The other toes and several of the metatarsals (foot bones) were lost in the process. This lower limb change was part of the adaptation that allowed the horse’s lower limb to become lighter and better adapted for explosive speed. Horses were heavily selected for great speed as they occupied the prehistoric plains. At that time, there was a great assortment of effective predators that culled any individuals that were slow...

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