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Marsha Cassada

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I horse I got as a rescue last fall may have this. I am wondering if as he gets more balanced it may correct. Or is it a conformational issue? Genetic? I have started him in harness, and he is behind the bit. As he gets more disciplined, could his neck improve? The muscle seems to build not at the mane, but at the bottom of the neck. Is it a nutrition thing?

I plan to do some research, but I would appreciate anyone's thoughts.

I'll try to get a recent picture of him--hard to take pictures by yourself.
 

Jill

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Without seeing your guy, I'm not sure what you're seeing when it comes to his neck. But, I know what a difference how a horse is "using" his neck makes. I have a horse that I love conformationally, including his neck, but when he's not "showing" sometimes to me his neck is not attractive. See what I mean, and maybe this could be part of what you're seeing in your horse...



 

hobbyhorse23

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Marsha Cassada said:
I horse I got as a rescue last fall may have this. I am wondering if as he gets more balanced it may correct. Or is it a conformational issue? Genetic? I have started him in harness, and he is behind the bit. As he gets more disciplined, could his neck improve? The muscle seems to build not at the mane, but at the bottom of the neck. Is it a nutrition thing?I plan to do some research, but I would appreciate anyone's thoughts.
A true ewe neck is a conformation thing and cannot be changed. I wish I had my conformation books with me to give you the exact definition but as I recall it basically means the neck vertebrae come out of the chest low and shallow so there's little flexibility there or ability for the horse to elevate the root of the neck. Like any aspect of conformation it is genetic and it's very hard for a horse with that fault (not condition but conformation fault) to round up and carry themselves correctly because they simply aren't built to.

Now that said the term is often misused with minis. Many older-style miniatures have thick lower necks and lack a clean, defined connection to their chests so they look a little bottom-heavy. This can give the impression of a ewe neck but if the bone structure isn't incorrect then they do not actually have this fault and can indeed be corrected to some extent through proper work. I say "to some extent" because it will always be harder for a horse with that sort of low-set neck and the thicker throatlatch that often accompanies it to round up and rock their weight back than it is for a horse with a high-set neck. Their headset may never be as high and they'll have to work twice as hard to get there. But they can certainly be improved through correct work and the muscling (if not how those muscles attach) can be turned almost upside down. I'll post some pictures tonight of Kody that show what I mean. His neck muscles were so upside down when I got him that you might have thought he was ewe necked but in reality while the flesh of his neck ties in very low he actually has quite a lot of curve in his lower neck vertebrae and can elevate easily and correctly.

If it's any comfort, the fact your horse is behind the bit means he probably ISN'T ewe necked! An ewe necked horse will typically travel with his nose high in the air and have a very difficult time rounding down. Traveling behind the bit and bulging those lower neck muscles is much more typical of a resistant green horse and can definitely be fixed with time and hard work. The trick is to first remove that which he's resisting (don't "bridle him up" or use a check) and then teach him to really stretch down and elevate his back. You'll have to do that for a long time while he physically rebuilds himself but once he's had a chance to strengthen those new muscles he's never used he can start carrying himself correctly and eventually graduate to a higher headset. This will take at least a year of correct work so don't be worried if it seems to be taking awhile. It will be worth it!

Leia
 
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Vertical Limit

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A ewe neck is a ewe neck and is a very strong conformational defect. Especially when you are looking at certain types of performance horses. No amount of work or food will fix it. While it can be made to look better it is caused poor internal structure. Ewe necked horses are likely, but not always, to be straight shouldered (among other things) You can kind of equate a ewe neck to curvature of the spine in a human. The actual skeletal structure is improperly formed.
 
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Marsha Cassada

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Sounds as though it is not conformational, as he always holds his head low--he is definitely not a "stargazer". He is only lately beginning to stretch his head out in harness. I do feel as though he has more hind end in his movement lately, too.

I didn't notice the neck until I clipped him out last week. It is definitely more muscled on bottom than on top, but I won't despair now. One site mentioned a ewe neck is often associated with a hollow chest. He does not have a hollow chest. It also mentioned the "stargazer" attitude.

Thank you for the good information!

I don't have any good photos of him lately, just standing still, but here is one of him in harness. (He is holding his head up a little more now than when this was taken a month ago, and beginning to respond better, so I do feel like he is becoming more flexible.) My sister is driving, and they were practicing circles.

Another thing that I found amazing is how long it takes a malnourished, injured horse to physically recover. I got him in August, and I feel as though March was when I actually noticed him being fully recovered--except for hooves which are growing out nicely.

Again, thanks for the responses.

 

Keri

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I'm not the best judge, but his neck just looks fat. Have you tried really sweating it??? I have a gelding who has a fatter lower neck and thick throatlatch. I have to sweat him in order to get any collection in his head. He can't breathe otherwise. Takes extra work, but well worth it. And he shows really nice after all my work.
 

sedeh

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He doesn't look ewe necked to me. They often have a dip at the base on the neck on their topline. He just needs some conditioning and diet(looks a little fat) and he should come around for you.
 

Miniv

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I don't see a ewe neck either.........I think he ties in low on his chest, though, which is what Leia mentions in her very good post. Overall, he looks very balanced -- cute guy!
 

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