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RE: [RC] speaking of twh/mft - heidi

I'm very interested in someone explaining the pros and cons of a horse
going wide behind.

On one hand, I'd be leery of a green youngun going spraddly behind at a
slow trot--that might indeed indicate the sort of weakness you had heard
about.

However, there are several factors that operate in the fit horse trotting
full out at a trot that has a lot of reach and drive.  One, as Bob Morris
stated, the barrel of the horse (if he has enough hindgut and rib cage to
fuel much work) is wider than the stifles, and hence if he has very MUCH
drive, there is a need to go a bit wide.  Second, the hock joint is built
a bit like a screw--the joint works on a bit of an angle.  So the further
the leg flexes, the more the bottom part of the leg tends to come outward.
Third, as a horse gets really fit, the abductor muscles on the outside of
his leg strengthen, and he has more of a tendency to be able to pull the
stifle out and away from the body in order to be able to reach up past the
barrel as the leg moves forward, enabling him to reach much further
forward with each stride.

The other fringe benefit of this is that having the hind leg track to the
outside of the front leg in a really fast trot helps to eliminate any
chance of a collision between the forelimb coming back into flexion as the
hind limb reaches forward into full extension.

You can feel horses with this sort of trot literally "shift gears" when
the trot becomes this long--their backs actually drop (not in a
hollowed-back sense--the whole body becomes lower) as those abductor
muscles kick in and the trot lengthens.

Any Standardbred worth his salt trots this way quite readily--if you ever
have the opportunity to sit behind one in a sulky, it is quite a sight.

Given a fit horse that is doing this for all the right reasons, I consider
it a very desirable characteristic--certainly not a fault!

Heidi



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