Managing the Crooked Horse

Most equines are out of alignment one way or another — and a farrier can’t always fix it

Horses are very much like their owners in that they all tend to display some form of asymmetry, albeit in a wide and varied range. The most common causes of any lack of symmetrical proportion are continued habits of stance and movement. Although most owners are aware that their horse may have a preferred way of moving, this fact, unfortunately, is not always fully considered.

The inherent characteristics displayed within stance and movement are, without doubt, the most likely reasons behind any form of asymmetry affecting the equine’s body shape, with the continuous interactions between nature and nurture being ever present.

Although handedness is becoming more readily acknowledged, it is generally recognized that the equine will also acquire noticeable forms of asymmetry through prolonged and continued practices, with many of those practices being thought to be inadvertently introduced by ignorant handling and thoughtless management. If there is a possibility that handling and management can induce asymmetry, then controlled management and educated handling can, by the same assumption, help to produce the symmetrical horse.

The horses that have been described throughout this text exhibit distinct behavioral patterns, which influence hoof shape. The most obvious of these patterns are in the act of grazing, an act free from manipulation and therefore clearly inherent.

The grazing stance has a tendency to reflect the degree of asymmetry by which the animal may be influenced. It will also serve as a good indicator of which side will be its dominant or preferred side (handedness). The…

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