WORKSHOP: Alignment and Biomechanics

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Alignment and Biomechamics Workshop


Part 1: Hoof anatomy and functions

This session focuses on how hoof conformation and mechanics affect tendon pressure, joint alignment and circulation, creating stress on the laminae. Discussion covers how trimming and shoeing strategies affect hoof anatomy, blood flow and tendon pressure. Preserved hooves are used for illustration.

Part 2: Recognizing hoof distortions

Teaches people to recognize and prevent distortions such as twists, flares, long toe/low heel, abnormal pressures in the hoof, contracted heels and underun heels. Hoof anatomy, mechanical functions of the hoof, shock absorption, and blood flow in the hoof are covered.  We will also discuss pressure changes in the coronary band and its effect.  The goal is to help people understand how to work toward a more symmetrical and balanced hoof.  

Live horse – evaluation of hooves
Part 3: Evaluating Leg Alignment

Focuses on lower limb anatomy and teaches people how different leg anatomies alter tendon pressure and impact on joints and hooves. How to recognize problems with bone column alignment and how misalignment can cause distortions in the hoof. We also discuss the relationships legs and its effect on long-term soundness. Preserved limbs and hooves will be used during classroom lecture to illustrate these points.

Live horse – evaluation of leg alignment

Part 4: Evaluating upper body alignment and conformation

Teaches people to recognize and evaluate upper body alignment and conformation issues that may affect long-term health. Examples include: straightness and squareness of upper body, length of back, shape of the back, length of back relative to hip size and position, hip size and position relative to shoulder position, how the mane falls and the tail hangs.

Live horse – evaluation of body alignment

Part 5: Muscle structure discussion

An in-depth look at how conformation, muscle over-development and muscle atrophy are related to movement patterns. Analysis of the shape and development of the front end vs. the back end.

Live horse – evaluation of muscle and movement

Test (Same evaluations, different horse)



Real Life Example from Case Studies – The Slide Presentation

Take a good look at the difference in the heels on the front feet of this horse. The right front heel is much higher and longer than the left front. Your first inclination might be to make both heels the same height.

As you travel up the body look at the alignment of the knees. The right knee is higher than the left. Also notice the difference in size between the two knees.

In this third picture, look at the chest and forearms. Again the right side of the horse is higher and there is a difference in muscling of the forearms from side to side. The horse carries most of his weight on the left side.

When you turn the horse around and look into the shoulders the right side is collapsed and atrophied while the left side is higher and more developed. If we lowered the right heel to make the feet match we would be collapsing the right shoulder even further. Think what lowering that heel would have done to the horse.

Also notice that the pelvic alignment is not level and the hindquarters are canted slightly to the left.

The point I want to make with these pictures is that you have to look at the whole horse, not just the hooves. When working with a horse like this, you must consider movement patterns as well as exercise programs. We were able to bring this horse back to where she could live a useful and more comfortable life.


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