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knightrider
Oct. 10, 2009, 12:09 PM
So...curious if anyone can tell me about the conformational angles which are negatives for a horse who jumps...are there any examples somewhere online which shows the shoulder angle and the femur (I think that is the name of the angle I'm looking for...if not forgive me)........I had a friend who used to own a horse that couldn't jump well, yet because of proper training and a careful trainer (who competed the horse), he was able to compete successfully through Prelim...but he was scary with the way his legs looked...he couldn't pick them up well over fences although they were even...

Anyone buy a horse that really wasn't a good jumper at first but with proper training developed into a safe if not more than adequate jumper?

There was a horse I saw recently who sparked this thought process in my friend who was looking and I am curious as well....wasn't sure where to look for this so thought someone here could help or give examples...thanks!

Mach Two
Oct. 10, 2009, 03:03 PM
I like a horse with a well laid back shoulder, one that is ideal would be at a 45- 50 degree angle is ideal.
The neck should be fairly high set, and the area where to foreleg ties into the chest needs to be "open, with the top of the foreleg showing a distinct inverted "V" on each leg. This means the leg is free to rotate up further when the horse jumps. If you look at horses that appear sort of "hammy" around the front leg at that juncture, you will see that the rotation of the shoulder and foreleg are somewhat limited.

I like a longish neck on a horse I'm going to jump, and if I'm galloping down to a big jump, I like to see it coming through a set of longish ears. It's rare to see a short necked, short eared horse that has much "scope"

A big, soft eye that sees well, with no "hood" obstructing any forward view is important to me, as is a large, fluted nostril. Horses with obstructions of vision are not able to quickly access the jumping quesitons. Horses with small, meaty nostrils can't gather in as much air as ones with large nostrils, and then the chips are down, they shut down...they run out of air!

I also like a for the corner of the mouth to come up as high as, or higher than the top of the nostril, when the horse holds it's head perpendicular to the ground, as he would be on the vertical. It's a sign of generosity and bravery. :)

The head should set on the neck, at "resting, not grazing, not reaching, just resting" at the same angle the neck attaches on the shoulder.

Viewed front to back, the front and hind legs , ideally will line up...if I am going to compromise a tad on ideal leg conformation, I'll take a little "over in the knee" but never "back at the knee"
Deviations from side to side tend to weaken the legs quicker than anything, (there are going to be horses that held up, with really funky front to back angles, but they are the exceptions)

Pasterns in front match the shoulder angle, and a long sloping hip provides more power potential. I like big well formed hock joints, and for the lower hind leg to drop straight down from hock to fetlock...horses that camp out, or are sickle hocked don't seem to be able to collect as much power from the engine.

deltawave
Oct. 10, 2009, 05:20 PM
Near as I can tell, jumping style is only vaguely connected to conformation. I wouldn't buy one with terrible conformation, and I wouldn't buy one with terrible jumping form. ;)

jn4jenny
Oct. 10, 2009, 05:27 PM
Near as I can tell, jumping style is only vaguely connected to conformation. I wouldn't buy one with terrible conformation, and I wouldn't buy one with terrible jumping form. ;)

Agreed. I've met many horses with ho-hum conformation. Some of them can jump the moon in good form. Others can jump the small stuff in good form but don't have scope for the bigger stuff. Some of them are poopy jumpers.

retreadeventer
Oct. 11, 2009, 08:11 AM
I look for a good clean straight hind leg and a reach with the hind leg as they step. I can see this watching a horse walk out of the stall. There is an athletic sway to the way a really good athletic jumper walks. But after that, the sky's the limit.

If you limit yourself based on what you see in terms of conformation, I think you will miss many a good horse or pony. Jumping ability is sort of within the animal, something that allows them to say to themselves, "I can jump over that - I don't have to run around it." It's an attitude. Teddy had it. He just didn't see an alternative when he came up to a big fence. He figured a way to use himself to get over it. To watch him jump was to watch a horse think outloud.

Many Irish horses, and American Thoroughbred horses have it, too. To some extent, horses do clean up their form as they learn more in their competitive lives. Some horses get more athletic and more athletic as they jump, and as the jumps get bigger. Some will never actually have superb, classic form - they just learn to jump higher and tuck the legs up closer to the belly. Look at Authentic.

Many a trainer has purchased a good looking, fancy moving, all-things-fabulous horse only to find they did not have the stomach to jump. I think a few less trainers have taken on an ugly, cheap, or slipped thru the cracks horse to find they have 3* or 4* potential! The more years in this business the more you hope you can find these types because - essentially in the short and long run -- a horse that is athletic is easier to teach to jump well, and saves time and effort on your behalf. Saving time - less pounding on the horse's physical structure, less pounding on your body as a rider -- saving the "machine hours" on both of you, is how horses become great over time. Riders, too!

Mach Two
Oct. 11, 2009, 03:10 PM
I had to make myself count to ten....
Yes, definately there is an issue of "heart" but the OP question was about conformation
And if conformation is only "vaguely connected" then why is it that the greatest UL event horses have many things in common? (great shoulder angle, good hip, etc, etc) and why is it Denny Emerson has even bothered to develop a breeding program that presents the very best characteristics, and as it has been proven, certain lines of horses keep migrating to the top of the game?
I can tell you why: they have been bred for conformation (for the job, not for line classes) and they are bred for "heart".
Yes, you will see a few with funky angles somehow make it into the upper levels of eventing and showjumping, but the majority of the top horses have conformation qualities in common. (like the hind leg and "step" retreadeventer looks for...I look for that "swing" too...I call it the panther walk) It comes from conformation, not atitude.

Mach Two
Oct. 11, 2009, 06:50 PM
Knightrider asked

"are there any examples somewhere online which shows the shoulder angle and the femur (I think that is the name of the angle I'm looking for."

Here is a formula I was taught in my teens, looking at photos, and it was easy to do wit a ruler and see that it worked. Draw a line from front point of the shoulder, upward through the top point of the shoulder. Then draw a line from the point of the hip up through the top point of the hip joint. They two lines will intersect, on a balanced horse, right about where the rider should sit in a dressage saddle.
A flat crouped horse's intersection will be further back, a steep shoulder's horse's intersection will be over the withers.

Another one: measure from the lowest point of the chest, between the horse's front legs...not from center of legs to windpipe on the front of the horse, but visualize where the low point is, from the side, (it's obstructed, in a side view, by a foreleg) and extend your line out parallel to the ground. now go from the that line, up to the place where the low point of the neck ties into the chest. That distance, on a horse built to hold it's head and neck up to gallop and jump, will be equal or greater than the distance from where the bottom of the neck meets the chest upwards to the top of the crest...the lines you draw to measure these distances are perpendicular to the ground.


Denny....where are you?

GotSpots
Oct. 11, 2009, 07:19 PM
Find Bill Steinkraus' book - he's got a wonderful section in the beginning of about 7-8 pages that describes what a good jumper's conformation should look like. It's incredibly detailed, illustrated with photos of a number of the really great jumpers (Riviera Wonder, Night Owl, Sloopy etc), and a wonderful read. I go back to it often when I'm thinking about horses, - his point about a horse being wide through the hips from behind in particular has stuck with me.

That being said, I suspect we all have issues we can give on if we're horse-shopping. I've known some fabulous jumpers who were a bit more upright, particularly in their hind end, than you'd really want in a conformation hunter, and a slightly longer back than ideal doesn't bother me for an eventer. But the closer to good conformation, in my experience, the easier they tend to be on themselves, the sounder, and the more likely to be a good jumper. Start with the best package you can find/afford and go from there.

Waterwitch
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:32 AM
A lot of the best showjumpers have what most horsemen would consider pretty upright shoulders. There are physics theories as to why this is the case, but basically this construction is conducive to the horse vaulting the mass of its front end off of the ground.

Dan Marks VMD has written some interesting articles about conformation myths - if I find any of his articles I will post links to them.

HollysHobbies
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:42 AM
I've got a poopy jumper--I mean, he's the first horse I've ridden in 20 years of riding who just doesn't seem to "get" jumping...at all!

Every week, I try to do some small jumps with him, basic gymnastics, etc...every week, we crash through fences even when I put him at the perfect distance. At best, he'll super-man (legs out forward) over the fence. At worst, all 4 feets go different directions and he just goes though it.

I keep hoping he'll get it and one day, we can do an event, but to no avail. I'd send him to a trainer for a month, but he's SO NATURALLY uninclined... :no: I know I should take him over natural obstacles (that don't fall down), but I'm afraid he'd flip it! Or flip it with a trainer!!!

Oh well, he's a nice dressage (we working on 2nd level) and trail horse. :lol:

Dr. Doolittle
Oct. 12, 2009, 10:49 AM
A lot of the best showjumpers have what most horsemen would consider pretty upright shoulders. There are physics theories as to why this is the case, but basically this construction is conducive to the horse vaulting the mass of its front end off of the ground.

Dan Marks VMD has written some interesting articles about conformation myths - if I find any of his articles I will post links to them.

On this point (and I believe Gem Twist provides a good example ;)), the upright shoulder must be coupled with a longish and also upright "arm" (humerus), which is the conformational combination that enables that "efficient push off the ground" with the front end. This is a key part of "optimal conformation for creating a powerful jump" that is often overlooked, since people tend to concentrate on the engine. (Which is also important, of course. I bought my mare--when young and green and unproven--largely based on her hindquarter construction, which is textbook for pure power. It has proved itself over time to be as good a "correct lever arm with great muscular support" as it initially looked like it would be. She has one bad-ass booty--pardon the pun--and has exhibited amazing feats of "thrust" which can only be due to this hind end conformation. :yes:)

Waterwitch
Oct. 12, 2009, 11:22 AM
On this point (and I believe Gem Twist provides a good example ;)), the upright shoulder must be coupled with a longish and also upright "arm" (humerus), which is the conformational combination that enables that "efficient push off the ground" with the front end. This is a key part of "optimal conformation for creating a powerful jump" that is often overlooked, since people tend to concentrate on the engine.

Absolutely - I believe Dr. Marks says that the ideal shoulder *joint* angle (angle between the humerus and the scapula - which is different from the way most people describe the shoulder angle as the angle between the horizontal and the scapula) is in the neighborhood of 105 degrees for many elite showjumpers. And yes, the arse end is important too. That's why I like my Irish horses...and they make my butt look smaller :winkgrin:

deltawave
Oct. 12, 2009, 12:53 PM
why is it that the greatest UL event horses have many things in common?

I'd say the things they have in common are wonderful minds, good hearts, and general overal soundness and toughness. Shared conformational traits would come much farther down the list.

Winsome Adante has the WORST looking set of back legs, to name one example of "handsome is as handsome does". :eek: Exceptions, of course, do not prove the rule. ;)

Sure, really and truly awful conformation is not as likely to see a horse sound through the upper levels. And truly wonderful conformation is a great place to start, but is no guarantee either. Which is why I said that conformation and ability are only vaguely related. :)

I'll repeat: I wouldn't buy a horse with terrible conformation and I wouldn't buy one with terrible jumping technique. All the technique and "want to" in the world isn't going to hold a horse together if their body isn't build for the job. But a perfectly-put-together-horse that just can't jump--I'd keep looking.

LisaB
Oct. 12, 2009, 01:58 PM
So, if the horse doesn't jump yet, how do you tell?
I think of 2 of my horses in particular. One was a nicely built tb that you would have thought could jump well. Well, he was stupid. I mean really stupid. He couldn't figure out where to put his body. No matter how many gymnastics you'd put in front of him. He was okay for a single fence though. So off he went foxhunting.
Second horse, I swear looked like a monstrous T-Rex when I first looked at him. He's like 2 horses loosely glued together in the middle. Front part draft, hind part - whatever. The ONLY reason I bought him was based on the agent. I trusted her. Well ... http://www.photoreflect.com/pr3/Orderpage.aspx?pi=0EBK00AT2N0011&po=11&pc=34

Kyzteke
Oct. 12, 2009, 02:06 PM
So...curious if anyone can tell me about the conformational angles which are negatives for a horse who jumps...are there any examples somewhere online which shows the shoulder angle and the femur (I think that is the name of the angle I'm looking for...if not forgive me)........I had a friend who used to own a horse that couldn't jump well, yet because of proper training and a careful trainer (who competed the horse), he was able to compete successfully through Prelim...but he was scary with the way his legs looked...he couldn't pick them up well over fences although they were even...

Anyone buy a horse that really wasn't a good jumper at first but with proper training developed into a safe if not more than adequate jumper?

There was a horse I saw recently who sparked this thought process in my friend who was looking and I am curious as well....wasn't sure where to look for this so thought someone here could help or give examples...thanks!

Gosh -- I clicked on this thread after looking at the title and thinking, "wow, I've never heard of a horse that POOPED while it was jumping...that IS weird."

But apparently you are just asking about jumper conformation?

mcorbett
Oct. 12, 2009, 02:33 PM
i'm going to look at this dude this weekend (i posted about him on another thread):
http://pets.webshots.com/photo/2751667960103309036wRpHnR
trot video:
http://pets.webshots.com/video/3093942630103309036UpEPRl
he's still racing...
any guesses on how he'll jump?

mcorbett
Oct. 12, 2009, 02:36 PM
i hope he jumps like LisaB's horse!

knightrider
Oct. 12, 2009, 02:46 PM
oh wow...went away for the weekend and forgot about this thread...have not read all the responses...but realized I did have the incorrect bone...I think Dr. Doolittle corrected me with the correct name...am going to read all this tonight when I get home...thanks~

LisaB
Oct. 12, 2009, 02:52 PM
Thanks mcorbett! It looks like he will. I wish I had some good conformation shots of Winston as he looks like a nag on the ground. No one looks at him. Then when we jump, we get the looks. Love the little bastard who dumped me AGAIN this weekend at Loch Moy. Hoping it's the sore stifles and it's not between the ears.
This is the only shot I have of him. But you'll kind of see what I'm saying in that he doesn't look like anything. You should have seen him when he wasn't in any kind of shape. Had a total sway back.
http://good-times.webshots.com/photo/2811423570102880166QkwUIi

mcorbett
Oct. 12, 2009, 03:03 PM
I'd love to have a 'conformation gallery' of UL horses and sucessfull LL horses to compare and contrast prospects with!

anyone want to offer up some pictures and i'll put them together on my sporthorse blog!

Mach Two
Oct. 12, 2009, 03:04 PM
I'd say the things they have in common are wonderful minds, good hearts, and general overal soundness and toughness. Shared conformational traits would come much farther down the list.

Winsome Adante has the WORST looking set of back legs, to name one example of "handsome is as handsome does". :eek: Exceptions, of course, do not prove the rule. ;)

Sure, really and truly awful conformation is not as likely to see a horse sound through the upper levels. And truly wonderful conformation is a great place to start, but is no guarantee either. Which is why I said that conformation and ability are only vaguely related. :)

I'll repeat: I wouldn't buy a horse with terrible conformation and I wouldn't buy one with terrible jumping technique. All the technique and "want to" in the world isn't going to hold a horse together if their body isn't build for the job. But a perfectly-put-together-horse that just can't jump--I'd keep looking.

I agree with you on that Delta, if the thing can't jump, and has not got heart, does not matter a hoot what the rest looks like. And you are right, good angles and conformation are not a guarantee. Now I understand what you were getting at, no in "vaguely related"

I'll still say, that in UL TBs, (I don't have any experience with WBs, but groomed a couple of ISHs some years back at the * level) there are some fairly consistent angles, and proportions

Great thread....it's fun to compare experiences and opinions.

mcorbett
Oct. 12, 2009, 03:38 PM
My mare is not conformationally perfect. She has a very flat humerous and can't swing her knees up really far like a show hunter, BUT, she has a super powerful hind-end and rarely touches a thing.
not a great pic but this is her over a prelim fence:
http://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee273/madrugadamegan/Flo/81509002010_0001.jpg
confo:
http://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee273/madrugadamegan/Flo/May08057.jpg
confo 2:
http://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee273/madrugadamegan/Flo/champagnerun09001.jpg

Mach Two
Oct. 12, 2009, 04:18 PM
Oh MY GOSH....this could be the full sister of my old event horse, Zinger! Same LOOOOOONG neck, same great eye, even the same shoulder and longish back. Bet she has scope to spare, and has a wonderful work ethic, too.
I'll have to scan in some Zinger photos to share with you.

I love her!

Dr. Doolittle
Oct. 12, 2009, 07:59 PM
First of all, LisaB--WOW!!!!!!!

Your horse has an exceptional jump, and I think you are too hard on his conformation; he has a great big engine, and his shoulder angle is at least fairly "open", unlike mcorbett's horse (lovely mare, BTW :)), who clearly uses her shoulder O/F as her conformation would dictate. She would be a great example of "heart and try" overcoming less than perfect front end conformation. And she too has a good hind end, so can compensate for her inability to "snap and fold" efficiently, by INSTEAD powering herself off the ground.

Agree with deltawave about the other things being as important in a jumping horse, but in a perfect world, one would want to at least start with a prospect that had the best chance of A) optimal mechanical ability to do the job, based on its essential physical structure, and B) based on that correct conformation (for the job), has at least a better than average chance of staying sound and useful for a longer period of time, thereby extending its competitive career.

That whole "heart and mind and toughness thing" is totally valid, of course, and everyone has seen numerous exceptions to the rule of the best conformation=the best event horse. This is what makes this horse thing so fascinating in general--they are all individuals, and like people, complex and unpredictable...

Winsome Adante has a VERY straight hind leg--*however*, this is often (historically) coupled with better than average jumping ability. The hind leg acts as a fulcrum (like the open shoulder angle, the open hind end angle can increase or magnify the ability of the horse to push off the ground--it's a physics thing...Downside? Hock arthritis (I had a mare when I was in my teens who had this conformation; could jump the moon, but got bone spavin--they call it DJD now--and the only options we had back then were to bute the poor animal and continue working it until the joint fused. Once that happened, she was again sound. This horse lived until 28, and was still giving jumping lessons with kids on her--willingly and happily--until the end, when she died of cancer.) Winsome Adante was retired fairly early, IIRC, and I would venture to guess it was because of his hocks/stifles (my mare also had stifle issues as a result of being "post-legged" like Winsome Adante.) However, this conformational fault does NOT affect scope; quite the opposite, in many cases!

I would HIGHLY recommend reading Deb Bennett's series of books on conformation--whatever else you might think of her ;), this is a very, very thorough education in the anatomy of the horse and how (and why!) it influences individual horses' performance in (as well as their suitability to) various disciplines. I learned a ton from these books, and try to pass it on whenever possible (but can't duplicate it all; the books are quite comprehensive...)

LisaB
Oct. 13, 2009, 07:26 AM
somewhere in useventing.com, there's a pdf file comparing Dan to another rolex horse that isn't quite as good of an x-c horse. It was really interesting that since he has a straighter hind leg, he's able to kick off faster and have a better gallop.
Dr. D, you gotta see Winston in person. Honestly, he's 2 horses loosely glued together. BUT he's got that shoulder and a great hind assembly.
2 things that stop him from becoming really spectacular and moving higher than prelim. 1 is his loin coupling. It's weak. That little bump on his croup. Sure sign. Which is the same as the tb you're going to look at mcorbett. But that tb isn't as bad. Second, his neck placement. While in nice form, it's tied lower than it should and so he has a tendency to kinda pull out with it, not down, just out, making it harder to get him back in a rounder frame needed for combos.
Mcorbett, your horse seems to be kinda the opposite of Winston but still works. She's got a great loin coupling and solid topline. Then the closed angle of the shoulder is what hinders her. She's smart enough though to realize this and uses her power ass to get some air time. This is where my tb failed. He wasn't that smart and would not get air time at all.

mcorbett
Oct. 13, 2009, 09:14 AM
ooo, i didn't notice the prospect's weak loin coupling before you pointed it out. What does that do for movement, jump, endurance?

LisaB
Oct. 13, 2009, 09:21 AM
Means, lots and lots of hills :D
It's really hard to get that back to front feeling and actually connection. And they don't really 'sit' on take off. It's definitely a thing that is constantly worked on. Winston just leaves out a stride and voila, goes over the jump. He gets nonplussed about it. But some horses because it's harder for them to rock back, get anxious about it. Probably this horse's saving grace is the good shoulder = knees up and out of the way. Again, this horse isn't as bad as Winston as far as that's concerned. Just means you have to work harder on connecting the hind to the front and strengthening the back.

mcorbett
Oct. 13, 2009, 09:52 AM
this is another one I'm looking at:
http://pets.webshots.com/album/573133926egzVRl

it's funny because this guy has a more upright shoulder but a shorter back and I guess a better loin connection.

This is something I'm still trying to learn- how to compare several horses with different strengths and weaknesses. I lack the experience with enough horses to know what is more imortant ie: good shoulder and well set neck with weak back vs. short coupled, strong back with upright shoulder.

Dr. Doolittle
Oct. 13, 2009, 10:31 AM
this is another one I'm looking at:
http://pets.webshots.com/album/573133926egzVRl

it's funny because this guy has a more upright shoulder but a shorter back and I guess a better loin connection.

This is something I'm still trying to learn- how to compare several horses with different strengths and weaknesses. I lack the experience with enough horses to know what is more imortant ie: good shoulder and well set neck with weak back vs. short coupled, strong back with upright shoulder.

Another thing to consider is how high the point of shoulder (shoulder/humerus connection) is: the higher it is, the more shoulder freedom there will generally be (hence the long and upright "arm" being a positive quality in a jumper...)

And the loin connection (lumbosacral joint) is also important because that determines how well the horse will be able to "coil his loins" (helpful in both collection for U/L dressage for the ability to "sit", and for jumping, where the same action precedes the "push off the ground.") As Lisa B said, the more difficult it is for horses to do this, the harder jumping will be: especially from the short spot! ;)

The horse in the pix you linked to is lovely; really looks like an athlete (and has a very "keen" expression ;)) He is nicely uphill, compact, good open shoulder angle, nice, smooth loin coupling, and good hind end construction. His cannon bones are a bit long (how big is he?), but I wouldn't pass on him based on that...

scubed
Oct. 13, 2009, 10:38 AM
So here is a picture of one that is known to be super catty, super scopey, very classical jumper taken when he was a few weeks off the track. What do you think of the conformation

mcorbett
Oct. 13, 2009, 10:49 AM
Dr. D,

So to go back to my dilema of chosing between pospects soley based on conformation, who would you chose?

a) http://pets.webshots.com/photo/2751667960103309036wRpHnR
OR
b) http://pets.webshots.com/album/573133926egzVRl

lstevenson
Oct. 13, 2009, 11:15 AM
Dr. D,

So to go back to my dilema of chosing between pospects soley based on conformation, who would you chose?

a) http://pets.webshots.com/photo/2751667960103309036wRpHnR
OR
b) http://pets.webshots.com/album/573133926egzVRl


Definitely the second one. He looks like a top athlete.

Dr. Doolittle
Oct. 13, 2009, 11:16 AM
So here is a picture of one that is known to be super catty, super scopey, very classical jumper taken when he was a few weeks off the track. What do you think of the conformation

OOO, LOFFLY! He is a bit long in the back (but I personally like that, for scope ;)), and his hip is set really high--which makes him seem a bit downhill (but a lot of top jumpers also have that "boxy hind end" with a high point of hip; it tends to indicate a longer femur/lever arm), and his neck and shoulder are wonderful. Me likey!

Dr. Doolittle
Oct. 13, 2009, 11:22 AM
Dr. D,

So to go back to my dilema of chosing between pospects soley based on conformation, who would you chose?

a) http://pets.webshots.com/photo/2751667960103309036wRpHnR
OR
b) http://pets.webshots.com/album/573133926egzVRl

Yes, agree with this: though the first horse is not bad (and again, very "keen" looking, and I love his face), he is longer backed and a bit more downhill (plus has a slightly lower set neck), so will be harder to balance up to his fences. And in general. That said, of course, many, many TBs are built exactly like this (and many have become top eventers, and are great athletes), but as previously mentioned, all things being equal, one should choose the best and most balanced conformation "for performance." But this IS assuming that "all things are indeed equal." ;)

scubed
Oct. 13, 2009, 12:45 PM
I prefer the second, although in part because I like smaller horses, but he looks more all-around athletic as well, though I agree the the first has a great eye

Threedaydream
Oct. 13, 2009, 06:31 PM
Oooh I wanna play! I'm learning a lot from this thread!

What do you guys think of this horse?
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v204/maderina1/IMG_62191.jpg
(better view of neck, since the other picture is a bit of an akward angle)
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v204/maderina1/IMG_6224.jpg