Buck-Kneed and Calf-Kneed:The Extremes



Horse facts as told by a Shetland pony.

 Gypsy, the Equine Encyclopedia, tells about CALF-KNEED AND BUCK-KNEED.




“Calf-Kneed” is a condition of the carpus or knee.  Calf-Kneed, also known as Back at the Knee, places tremendous strain on the ligaments, tendons and bones in the carpal area.  Sometimes this condition can result from improper hoof care, thus forcing the horse to assume a Calf-Kneed stance.  High-set knees can predispose horses to being Calf-Kneed.

On the other hand, the condition can be genetic, where the bone misalignment in the carpus causes strain on the knee; in this case, even corrective shoeing cannot fix it.    Calf-Kneed horses are not usually suited for hard work but are fine for light riding.  Over at the Knee is far worse than the other extreme, which is Buck Kneed.

Buck-Kneed horses appear to be stepping forward with their feet flat on the ground.  In Buck-Kneed horses, sometimes trembling or shaking of the front legs can be observed after 15-30 minutes of work.  This is because the effort that is put in by the muscles in attempt to hold the knee in its proper alignment eventually becomes tiring, especially under the weight of a rider.

Strain on the ligaments of the knee as a result of hard work results in Buck-Kneed condition.  This is most frequently seen in horses used for high-speed events such as western games, reining or eventing.  Unlike Back at the Knee, this condition is not genetic.  It is not passed on and is essentially a blemish.

Ideally, horses’ knees should be wide, substantial and shield-shaped when viewed from the front.  They should be clean, well-defined and free of puffiness or swelling (windpuffs).  The lower the knees and hocks, the longer and smoother the stride.

Take note: although in horses the stifle is the equivalent of the human knee, it is not to be confused with the carpus.  The stifle is a joint of the hind leg; the carpus the front.






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