The Art & Science of Farriery
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12 Points of Reference: The Knee

12 Points of Reference: The Knee

By Dave Farley CF and Roy Bloom CJF
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The 12 Points of Reference article printed in the last issue of the Natural Angle, combined with the 12 points DVD "is a winning combination.”  We both use these steps on every horse we trim.  Each of the 12 points can be linked to each other. We have all heard the statement, “Every action has a reaction.”  This is a very important statement when compared to the bones and joints in the lower limb of every animal we trim.  Each digit of the lower limb could be normal for that particular equine.  Likewise, there are several abnormal conformation faults possible for each digit in the lower limb of any horse.  The more normal the conformation the easier to trim and shoe, if we pay attention and keep the limb balanced for that animal.  The more deviation or abnormal the conformation of each bone and joint in the limb, the more important it is to properly trim and maintain that limb for the longevity of that animal.

As you learn each of the 12 points, you will think of a particular animal you work on and start to wonder if you have done the best trim that you can.  Proper trimming will improve the health of the limb as well as the health of the horse.  If you improve the trim you will also improve the ability of that animal.  If you improve the ability you will have a happy horse and a happy owner.  Remember, every action has a reaction!

Knees are turned out, however the foot is trying to be straight. This has resulted in a twist of the pastern and places the entire leg inside of center.
Knees are turned out, feet follow knees and are turned out, leg is centered under knee and above foot.
 

The first point of reference is the knee.  We mentioned that the knee dictates the direction of breakover of that limb.  As with each of the 12 points, we believe it is important to observe the horse at the walk as well as standing.  Watch the limb as the horse walks toward you.  Notice the action of the front limbs. Where is the knee in relation to the rest of the limb?  Is the knee in the center of the limb (normal); as the horse moves, the knee breaks straight without the limb swinging in or out?  Is it base narrow; toed out, as the knee breaks, the limb moves inward toward the center of the body, and the hoof swings toward the opposite leg?  Is it base wide; toed in and as the limb breaks over it rotates out and the hoof wings outwards?  After the horse is standing, we like to walk around the animal.  Is the knee flat (normal) or is it angled out (base narrow) or angled in (base wide)?  While this may seem a little confusing at first, a really cool thing will start to happen!  After you watch a few horses move, and focus on the knee you will be able to predict the conformation of the rest of the limb before the animal gets closer to you.  You will also be able to predict the wear on the hoof or shoe before you pick up a leg!

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