Poll Recap: What Conformation Flaws Can You Live With?

Poll Recap: What Conformation Flaws Can You Live With?

Of the 1,074 respondents, 349 (32%) said they could live with a slight club foot in their horse's conformation.

Photo: The Horse Staff

A horse’s conformation plays an integral role in their usefulness and soundness as a riding horse. In last week’s poll, we asked our readers what conformation flaws they could live with in a riding horse. More than 1,000 people responded and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 1,074 respondents, 349 (32%) said they could live with a slight club foot in their riding horse’s conformation, while 293 (27%) said they were okay with a horse that is cow hocked. Another 276 individuals (26%) said they could live with a pigeon-toed riding horse, while 85 respondents (8%) said they were okay with a horse that was buck-kneed (over at the knees). The remaining 71 respondents (7%) said they could live with a horse that was sickle hocked.

Additionally, 48 people left comments about conformation flaws in horses:

Many people left general comments about horse conformation:

  • “Actually I've had all in horses that made great trail horses so I'm okay with any of them.”
  • “I can live with any flaw. Heaven knows they put up with enough of ours!”
  • “I'm a pleasure rider. None of these would bother me!”
  • “None of these flaws would bother me in a riding horse.”
  • “As long as horse is comfortable, there are no deal breakers! All are manageable w proper veterinary and farrier care.”
  • “I could deal with them all if they were minor, with exception of buck knees. I'm pigeon-toed myself and do fine.”
  • “I can live with short-backed. It's the least offensive to me.”
  • “What you can live with depends on what job the horse has to perform.”
  • “I could live with all of them, but it depends what the horse is expected to do.”
  • “I can live with any for a good ol' companion.”
  • “Conformation flaw can have seriously negative effects on equine athletes' soundness, so none.”
  • “Structural problems that will lead to lameness, I can't live with. Cosmetic abnormalities are okay.”
  • “All of those, if fairly minor, are okay in a pleasure riding horse.”
  • “I think it depends on what you plan to do with the horse.”
  • “I'd prefer none.”
  • “Conformation flaws predispose an individual to injuiry, not guarantee they will go lame.”
  • “My gelding is toed-out in the left forefoot and it hasnt affected his soundness whatsoever!”

Others commented about horses that are pigeon-toed (or toed-in):

  • “I had a mare years ago who was slightly pigeon toed. She was extremely fast and a great cow horse!”
  • “I have had a horse that was slightly toed-in and it simple training fixed it.”
  • “Mild toe in I can deal with, but I do mean mild.”
  • “My large pony is toed-in and he moves great; the farrier says his feet are in great condition.”
  • “My first horse was a bit pigeon-toed. I've thought it was attractive ever since.”
  • “My retired dressage mare toes in; it's never caused a problem.”
  • “As long as the hoof lands evenly, I could probably live with toeing in.”

Some people commented about horses with club foot conformation:

  • “My former advanced event horse had a severely club right front, He had no issues from it other than shoeing.”
  • “I have a gelding with a slight club foot. My farrier has kept his angle correct and the horse stays competition sound.”
  • “My horse has a club foot and it doesn't seem to cause him any problems at all.”
  • “I had an excellent mare with a slight club foot. I kept the hoof trimmed and trail rode everywhere.”
  • “My Morgan has a club foot and has done fine riding and driving. It has not been an issue.”
  • “Actually, none of them, but I can manage a slight club foot easily with consistent trimming.”
  • “You can correct club foot with proper barefoot trimming. I wouldn't ride any of the others.”

And a few respondents commented on horses that are cow hocked:

  • “Cow hock is not as bad as the others.”
  • “One of the best horses I've ever owned was cow hocked. He didn't retire until he was 27.”
  • “Every cow hocked horse I know gives a much smoother ride than one that’s not.”

Learn more about leg conformation in horses and how body conformation varies amongst different breeds on TheHorse.com! 

This week we want to know: What is the main way you deal with mud in your horse's habitat during the wet months? Vote now and share your comments at TheHorse.com!

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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