There Was a Crooked Foal

A newborn foal, teetering on spidery legs, has a knock-kneed, awkward charm that can melt hearts.
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A newborn foal, teetering on spidery legs, has a knock-kneed, awkward charm that can melt the hardest of hearts. But it’s not so charming if, after a couple of weeks, his legs still look as if they’re bending in all the wrong places. Some crookedness of the limbs is to be expected in most newborns, but generally it resolves of its own accord within a week or two. When it doesn’t, you might have a foal with an angular limb deformity.

A number of factors can contribute to the birth of a crooked foal, including genetics (inheriting faulty conformation from sire and/or dam), fractures leading to growth deviations, and hormonal imbalances the mare might experience while pregnant. The foal’s abnormal position in the uterus also has been implicated in some cases, as have unbalanced nutritional programs that fail to provide the fetus with the nutrients it needs for optimal bone and cartilage growth.

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Karen Briggs is the author of six books, including the recently updated Understanding Equine Nutrition as well as Understanding The Pony, both published by Eclipse Press. She’s written a few thousand articles on subjects ranging from guttural pouch infections to how to compost your manure. She is also a Canadian certified riding coach, an equine nutritionist, and works in media relations for the harness racing industry. She lives with her band of off-the-track Thoroughbreds on a farm near Guelph, Ontario, and dabbles in eventing.

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