Crooked Legs in Newborn FoalsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · June 11, 2012
First-time owners of foals may look on in horror as the spindly youngster stands for the first time. Newborns often show a variety of what appear to be limb deformities: fetlocks flat on the ground, hind legs swept sideways, forelegs splayed out wide below the knee, toes turned in or out.
Many of these odd positions will self-correct during the first days or weeks of life as the foal grows and exercises. The fairly common knock-kneed stance of newborns, for example, often gives way to straighter knees and forelegs before many weeks go by.
Severe deformities, however, may not self-correct and are likely to limit the horse’s soundness and ability to perform. Having a veterinarian evaluate leg conformation by the time the foal is a few weeks old is the best plan to guarantee proper development. If detected and treated early, many types of less-than-perfect conformation can be corrected by surgery or therapeutic hoof trimming.