Conformation of the Juvenile Equine Athlete

Limb conformation has bearing on the type of procedure used to alter a particular defect, including periosteal elevation, transphyseal bridging, hoof augmentation, and changes in management. Conformation also affects selection of sale and breeding
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"Forelimb conformation receives lots of attention because of perceived predisposition to injury (with various conformational problems)," said Liz Santschi, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, clinical associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"Angular limb deformities (limbs crooked when viewed from the front), rotational deformities (such as toeing in or out), offset deformities (bench knees), and combinations of these deformities are very common," she reported, at the Western Veterinary Conference held Feb. 20-25, 2005, in Las Vegas, Nev. She discussed a study of foal conformation that she recently completed and will submit for publication.

Limb conformation has bearing on procedures used to alter that conformation including periosteal elevation, transphyseal bridging, hoof augmentation, and changes in management. Conformation also affects selection of sale and breeding stock. "Yearlings with carpal offset (bench knees) are now often subjected to surgery to make them valgus (knock-kneed) as well based on some observations that horses that are slightly offset and valgus (bench and knock knees) have less injury than horses that only have offset knees," she stated. "I imagine that it is confusing to clients as for years we’ve been telling them that carpal valgus needed correction, but now we’re telling them it’s desirable.

"Adding to recent controversy, some have suggested that periosteal elevation doesn’t work (to fix crooked limbs)," she went on. She referenced a few studies that found no difference in correction success and speed between periosteal elevation and no treatment at all

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Written by:

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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