You might think race horses are animals bred and trained to reach the peak of physical fitness — and for the most part, you’d be right! After all, thoroughbred horses are conditioned from birth to run fast and glide over the racecourse in the battle for the line.
But some horses inevitably pick up injuries, either from wear and tear, or from freak accidents. And one of the issues you may hear when horse racing betting is knuckling, or that a horse has knuckled over.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A HORSE KNUCKLES OVER?
Knuckling over is a term used when examining the hind legs of horses. It is a condition where the fetlock joint in the horses leg has straightened so much, that the horse risks tripping over its hind hooves.
When you look at a horse’s regular hind leg, you’ll see the hoof naturally falls at an angle in front of the actual leg. However, when a horse has a tight or short tendon, its leg is at risk of overshooting.
If a race horse is suffering from knuckling then it might stumble over its own hooves while competing. However, horses at the highest level of UK and Irish racing are unlikely to reach a stage where they knuckle. After all, they are trained and examined regularly from foal and are unlikely to be able to run at the required speed if their fetlocks are causing them issues.
HOW SERIOUS IS KNUCKLING OVER?
If a horse does knuckle then the damage can range from negligible to bad. After all, imagine jogging down the street and suddenly planting your whole weight on your toenails — your footing will likely crumble and you’ll fall flat on your face.
Knuckling can cause strains and even broken bones in horses if they suffer a bad instance.
To fix knuckling, owners will try shortening the toe and re-shoeing the horse. It’s a technique that works when horses are stumbling in general, which can occur when their hooves are growing too long. Owners can also apply special shoes called rockers, which have a slight bend at the end in order to lift the hoof off the ground.
In time a horse, if treated correctly, will get over knuckling as their hooves are modified and their tendons corrected.
DOES KNUCKLING AFFECT RACING BETTING?
Trainers are unlikely to send a horse onto a course if they think it will knuckle, so racing betting odds rarely make allowances in the market for this.
However, the hind legs of a horse are worth checking out if you can live stream racing and watch the parade ring before a race. After all, if the horse doesn’t look comfortable then its shoes may have been badly fitted, or it might not trust the jockey on its back.
Check out more from our Demystifying Racing series here…
- What does it mean when a horse is On the Bridle?
- What is a Black type horse race?
- What are the different types of going in horse racing?
- What is a bumper horse race?
- What are blinkers and why do some horses wear them?
- What is an Allowance Race in horse racing?
- What is the difference between hurdles and fences in National Hunt racing?
- What is a halter and why do some horses wear them?
- What does it mean when a horse has spread a plate?
- What is the Rule 4 betting rule in horse racing?
- What is the difference between graded, handicap and selling horse races?
- What does a novice hurdle in horse racing mean?
- What is a listed horse race?
- What does a novice chase in horse racing mean?
- Why do race horses have different ratings and what do they mean?
- When does the National Hunt season start and when does it end?
- Why are there different grades of horse race?
- Why are there 3 different types of National Hunt race?
- Why are race horses given different weights and what does it mean?
- How many different classes of horse race are there?
- What is a claiming race and what do they mean?
- What is an optional claimer in horse racing?
- What is a shadow roll and why do some race horses wear them?
- Why do some races start from stalls and some not?
- What is the difference between Derby and Oaks races?
- What is a stayer in horse racing?
- What is a yearling horse and when are they ready to race?
- What does it mean if a horse has won a point race?
- What does a maiden mean in horse racing?
- How are horses’ ages calculated and why is it not the same as humans?
- What advantages do apprentice jockeys get when riding against professionals?
- What is a conditional jockey?
- What does the term ‘connections’ mean in horse racing?
- Why do some horses wear cheekpieces?
- Who are the stewards in horse racing?
- What does ‘weighed in’ mean at the end of a horse race?
- What is a nursery race?
- Why are some National Hunt races run without fences?
- Why are some horses given a tongue tie during races?
- What does it mean when a horse is ‘pushed out’?
- How are horse racing ratings calculated?
- What does it mean when a horse has a ‘wind operation’?
- How high are the fences and hurdles in horse racing?
- What is an apprentice jockey?
- What is a Bull Ring in horse racing?
- What does the phrase ‘Look of Eagles’ mean in horse racing?
- Why do some horses wear a ‘weight cloth’ during races?
- What is the Triple Crown in horse racing?
- What is a Steeplechase race in horse racing?
- How high are the Cheltenham Festival fences and hurdles?
- Why is the Champion Chase named after the Queen Mother?
- Why does Cheltenham racecourse have an Old Course and a New Course? What’s the differences between the two?
- What is the Cheltenham roar? What difference does it make in races?
- Why are there no jumps in the Cheltenham Festival Champion Bumper?
- How many fans usually attend the Cheltenham Festival? How big is the capacity?
- What is a juvenile in horse racing?