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Because of the economics of raising and competing horses many disciplines are geared to the young horse. This, bluntly speaking, minimizes expenses used on a loser.
As a consequence, performance horses are started earlier, trained harder and shown more than ever before. Some disciplines now have a never-ending show season, so horses rarely get any extended time off.
It is no wonder then, that even the horses with the best conformation will exhibit problems during their competitive careers. These problems can occur from the tip of the nose to the heels of the hind feet and are often a combination of bone and soft-tissue issues.
Some common problems of the hind limb involve the foot and fall in the realm of farriery. In this age of specialization, some of these problems are breed or discipline specific. Let’s review some of the most common problems and how veterinarians and farriers cope with them together.
Good basic conformation is the cornerstone of success of any top performance horse with a long career. Basically when evaluating a horse’s conformation, you are looking for symmetry and balance between the front end (head, neck, shoulders and front legs), the middle of the horse (the back from the whither to the loins) and the rear end (the loin, hip and hind legs). Ideally you want the withers and the top of the rump to be the same height, joined by a short-to-medium-length back supported by legs of appropriate size bone and a solid structure.