In proceeding to examine a horse as to soundness, there are certain observations which require to be made before the animal is removed from his stall or box, or in any way interfered with, and it is always desirable during this time to note the general state of the box itself.
The posture or position in which the horse habitually stands may be of the first importance in directing the course of enquiry, and should be carefully observed. In this connection some regard will be paid to the manner in which the horse disposes of the weight on his limbs. One fore-foot habitually in advance of the other, although not necessarily indicating lameness, is nevertheless a posture almost invariably assumed where disease exists in the foot, and sometimes also in the course of the leg. If the feet be alternately advanced and withdrawn, the animal first resting one and then the other at frequent intervals, or if, as it is said, the horse "points" his feet, both will require to receive special attention in the course of the examination, since this change of attitude, or "pointing" of the feet as it is termed, may imply some defect in both.
Similar observations require to be made with regard to the hind-limbs, and any habitual tendency to rest one more than the other should be a matter for further enquiry. Horses suffering from spavin stand with the hock flexed and the weight removed from the limb, and when moved over from side to side a halt in the gait will be evinced.
If the horse's head is tied up short to the rack it should be let down. The crib, however, will be more or less frayed if he has been in the habit of biting it, and the partitions and stall-posts will reveal any propensity to kick in the stable, as some horses do. This, of course, is a vice, but the purchaser should not overlook anything that is likely to interfere with the horse's well-being, and the act of kicking in the stable not only tends to bring about injury to his legs but to damage the stable fittings and give annoyance to the grooms.
It sometimes occurs that stringhalt will reveal itself in moving a horse over in his stall, or turning him in a narrow box, when it cannot be provoked in the open.