AQHA Professional Horsewoman, Kathy Smallwood, modifies her strategies based on each horse’s conformation individually. Photo © The American Quarter Horse Journal

Looking Leggy: Setting Your Halter Horses’s Front Legs Just Right

Honestly appraising your horse’s assets and faults will help you do a better job of positioning him so that he looks his best to the judge. Here’s how to set the front legs: “The horse is more likely to need adjustments with the front legs,” Kathy says. “The back feet aren’t usually much of a problem. But in front, a horse will usually toe in or out. One foot might be club-footed, or a horse might be over at the knees or calf kneed.”

Remember that you can’t fool a judge, and you can’t totally hide imperfections in conformation, but you can minimize the faults so that it doesn’t holler, “Hey! Look at this!”

“Sometimes, when you start to set your horse’s front feet, you’ll find that the dirt is deeper under one foot than the other,” she says. In most cases, the foot won’t just sink level. Either the toe or heel will go in deeper, causing that entire front leg to look off.

“That’s when I will pick up the front foot, use my own foot to smooth down the dirt, then replace the horse’s foot on the smoothed surface,” Kathy says.

With a horse that’s pretty correct, Kathy says, “you want those legs to come straight down, pretty much the same way you would with a good-hocked horse. Looking from the side, follow the imaginary straight line.”

However, if a horse is long-backed, Kathy will set the front feet 1-2 inches behind the line. “By having his legs camped under just a tad, it creates the illusion of a shorter back,” she says.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article from America’s Horse Daily.