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View Full Version : Conformation Clinic! UPDATED: With Videos!



RxCate
Mar. 27, 2012, 08:41 AM
This is a 7yr old Appendix QH Gelding I've been training for the owners. Just would like to find out what the all-knowing COTH members think of him?

http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b66/RxCate/Topper2.jpg
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b66/RxCate/Topper.jpg

RxCate
Mar. 27, 2012, 10:50 AM
Really? 63 people have looked at this and not one has an opinion?

I find that hard to believe on this BB. ;)

ponymom64
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:06 AM
Really? 63 people have looked at this and not one has an opinion?

I find that hard to believe on this BB. ;)

Well, I tried to look but photobucket is blocked on my work machine, so I couldn't see the pictures :(

RxCate
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:23 AM
Boo :(

fairtheewell
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:27 AM
How does he "move"?

TrotTrotPumpkn
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:35 AM
The biggest thing that jumps out at me is that all of his angles are on the "upright" side. Pasterns, shoulder, hind end, etc. I don't love his back or his back end.

He has a nice expression though--he's very cute. What are you doing with him?

RxCate
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:44 AM
The owner has not sent me the videos of his lunging or my riding him from last weekend. As soon as she does I will update the thread.

She bought him to be a trail horse, but he turned out to be far greener than advertised. He sat in a pasture for 2 yrs, did go to a trainer for 2 weeks and was being basically re-broke by a girl in college before I came along.

I just got to know him and lunged him for the first couple of weeks I met him, and then threw my western saddle on him (he didn't care), mounted (didn't move a muscle) and away we went with no issues.

From that point on I've been lunging before I ride him to get any spunk out and just basically working on flat-work, re-establishing his aids and his "whoa." Recently we've started doing lots of transition work, trotting over cavaletti and I popped him over a low cross-rail just to see what he'd do (didn't even bat an eye).

I've also been train riding him here and there to get him used to leaving the farm/seeing new horses/new places. He has his green moments where he's a little "lookey" say if a buzzard flies up out of nowhere, but has not tried to jump out of his skin, per se. He just stops dead and stares it down and then we move on. I try to treat these as no big deal and praise when we move on quietly, or walk him right up to whatever it was he was looking at.

I foresee him as being a local jumper type or foxhunter/trail horse. He has a GREAT mind on him. Picks up what he's learning almost immediately and loves to work.

DarkStarrx
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:45 AM
The biggest thing that jumps out at me is that all of his angles are on the "upright" side. Pasterns, shoulder, hind end, etc. I don't love his back or his back end.

He has a nice expression though--he's very cute. What are you doing with him?

That is what I noticed as well as his short hind end and rather long back and neck. He is butt high as well.

skydy
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:46 AM
The biggest thing that jumps out at me is that all of his angles are on the "upright" side. Pasterns, shoulder, hind end, etc. I don't love his back or his back end.

He has a nice expression though--he's very cute. What are you doing with him?

^^^this. I agree, back and hindquarters aren't what i'd like.
Sweet face!

trubandloki
Mar. 27, 2012, 11:51 AM
The biggest thing that jumps out at me is that all of his angles are on the "upright" side. Pasterns, shoulder, hind end, etc. I don't love his back or his back end.

He has a nice expression though--he's very cute.?


That is what I noticed as well as his short hind end and rather long back and neck. He is butt high as well.

This.

RxCate
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:05 PM
Yeah it's weird how he is butt high. I actually thought he had a short back! He is paperless so other than knowing he's an Appendix QH, I have no idea of his lineage.

He has no problems moving out, we are working on collection, but definitely don't have it down pat.

And I should clarify after the initial riding western, we've switched to exclusively english.

So far his angles have not really inhibited him and I don't think will harm his chances of being a local trail/jumper. He's a VERY easy keeper, and is barefoot.

We've all seen horses with less than perfect conformation go on to make nice jumpers. I really wanted the wisdom of COTH though and I thank you! :)

I will post the videos once I get them.

fairtheewell
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:14 PM
I think he may jump well. He has good legs, good shoulder, and good length of neck. His top line will develop with work over time and his back and loin will fill in. It should be interesting to see what you can do with him! Good luck!

lachevaline
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:26 PM
He's kind of standing under himself in the front (not sure what that's called) and his throatlatch seems a little thick? But he's cute. I'd also like to see him move.

(Is his name Topper? We had one of those at my old barn in NY.)

RxCate
Mar. 27, 2012, 12:36 PM
Yup, Topper :)

I had a hard time getting him to stand completely still. The neighbors were out working in their yard and that grass was mighty tempting. These were the best shots we could get between his fidgeting.

didgery
Mar. 27, 2012, 01:02 PM
I have opinions but don't like talking about other peoples' horses unless it's at the owner's request!

Appsolute
Mar. 27, 2012, 01:26 PM
I would say he isn’t going to win any conformation classes any time soon. But conformation only gets you so far, heart and talent are what make a good riding horse. Well that and soundness, and he appears to have good legs, I do not see any confo issues that should cause him to not be a riding horse.

That said, he is a box of parts, and I imagine it would be pretty hard for him to collect and drop his rear while elevating his front.

From this photo:

His is shoulder appears fairly steep (
His neck looks a little low set, under developed (underline muscles more developed then top line), and a bit “ewed” – does he travel with his head high?
Looks a bit “back at the knee” (aka claf kneed) / tendons tie narrow at the knee
His back appears a bit long with a very weak loin / hip connection
His hind quarters are short and steep, not in proportion with the rest of his body
Looks a little camped out behind, but that may just be the short hind quaters
He is “down hill”

The GOOD (front to back)
Love the face, nice big nostrils for air, big kind eye
Neck ties nicely to the head, nice clean throat latch, good angle
Neck is a good length in proportion with his back
Shoulder / elbow tie, good angles, should be able to get the front end up over a jump
Good “bone” his legs look to have a good amount of substance
Good pastern angles which connect to equally well angles hooves
Solid / well angled hocks
Cannons both front and back and fairly short, low hocks and knees which is good

How is he to fit a saddle on? Being that downhill I would pay special attention to make sure the saddle isn’t causing extra pressure at the back end of the panels.

Over all adorable face, nice kind soft eye, and I am sure he will be a fun project. Just keep in mind that getting his hind end under himself will be difficult for him. So condition him accordingly, and ride sympathetically.

RxCate
Mar. 27, 2012, 02:27 PM
Thank you so much for that nice, concise reply!

I am planning on taking some of these to the owner to help explain him and how her other horses stand up as she's green herself. She had a pony when she was younger, but she mostly "cowboy'd" around, & trail rode. No formal teaching, though thankfully she is very open to those who she knows have more experience than her.

So, please, don't be afraid to express your opinion!

So far, like I said, I haven't touched too much on collection, more getting him to keep a nice, steady rhythm and working on getting him nice and supple. I always lunge him first to get out any spunk and we do our normal lunge both directions and then I'll setup one cavaletti at each clock point (12/3/6/9) and have him trot around that working on balancing himself, as well as putting a few in a row going over those flat, then elevating a little to really engage those hindquarters/back.

We do lots of spiral circles, making sure he's not dropping that shoulder, serpentine's, cavaletti, figure 8's, just getting him to bend around my leg. I have been working on him giving his head to me as well. I'll just work him at the walk, giving me a nice strong walk and I'll drop stirrups, wrap my legs around him and use my seat to push him up under himself. I'll play with his mouth and as soon as he gives me his face, I release. I do that at a walk around the arena, just working on softening.

At cooldown I make sure to try and get him to stretch his head down and out, and just relax. So basic dressage work for now.

I have him going in a flash bridle (he would root a bit at the canter, but I think that's also in part of him being on the forehand) with a copper roller Dee.

The "arena" is really one of her smaller, squarer pastures and has little hills so we'll go up and down those working on trying to build the back muscles/topline. Unfortunately we're on the eastern shore of MD so we're quite lacking for hills!

He is a VERY good boy, and I wish I was at a point where I could take him myself, if only as a trail horse. He's just FUN.

Laurierace
Mar. 27, 2012, 03:13 PM
He appears swayback in the pictures. Is that not the case?

TheHorseProblem
Mar. 27, 2012, 04:01 PM
Really? 63 people have looked at this and not one has an opinion?

I find that hard to believe on this BB. ;)
:lol:
I looked at the pictures last night, but was too tired and too insecure about my opinions, despite my years of reading Julie Winkel's column in PH.

Love his head and neck.

alterhorse
Mar. 27, 2012, 04:11 PM
He appears swayback in the pictures. Is that not the case?

Sway back, or goose rump?

I'll say it again, and this time hopefully say it correctly...

Pretty is AS pretty does.

RxCate
Mar. 27, 2012, 04:25 PM
EXACTLY.

No, he's not swaybacked. He's just butt high. The vet has never mentioned anything off about him.

I have had horses in the past that I was training that were over at the knee, had ugly heads, whatever, but would jump the moon for you and go all day on foxhunts no problem.

They may not be hack winners, but I mean, if the EQ/Halter classes aren't your thing anyway, so what? That's not what this horse is being marketed for.

Thank you all so much for your opinions :) This is why I love COTH.

Lord Helpus
Mar. 27, 2012, 04:44 PM
I don't know about the butt high, but I believe that he is technically sway backed. Look at where the saddle would sit in relationship to his withers. It is impossible to get the saddle up close to his withers because his back is concave.

Since he is not a conformation hunter, his back is not necessarily a deal breaker. But you will always be sitting too far back, because of his top line. And, as someone has already said, correct saddle fitting is a must. I would get an expert out to make sure that you have a saddle which fits his conformation. And I would be constantly on the alert for signs of a sore back.

A sway back is not debilitating, but it is a weakness and he must have special attention paid to that area.

That said, I love his front end, especially his face. And he has a lovely shoulder and a solid set of legs. If his topline were more level (higher back and lower butt) he would be a very good looking horse.

RxCate
Mar. 28, 2012, 09:09 PM
Please do NOT critique me, I know what my issues are and at this moment, my focus is on the horse.

Keep in mind this horse is green, I've only been working him on weekends since late December. He does not know his leads and we only started going over crossrails 3 weeks ago just to see what he would do. We are working on the basics with him, taking everything calmly and slowly and just getting him experience.

Trotwork : http://youtu.be/u6WiWMoGNa8

Canter : http://youtu.be/pbBV9OGLhAg

Jumping : http://youtu.be/xb2NmtIRXh4

RxCate
Mar. 29, 2012, 08:43 AM
Okay now.. you guys wanted to see him move, there's the videos... what is the consensus now?

RxCate
Mar. 29, 2012, 10:15 AM
DP = Another 200 views, and nothing new to add?

Sorry to be pushy, but I honestly would like to know!

Denzel
Mar. 29, 2012, 10:55 AM
He seems to be an ok mover, and jumper. If he turns out being quiet and forgiving, he might make a good kid's horse at the local shows. I knew a horse built similarly to this, a trakhener, if I remember correctly. His hind end was not as extreme as this horse, but same shape, and a really weak loin collection. He was being used as a kid's dressage horse. While he was very kind and sweet, going round and through with the pro was very difficult for him, though he did try! He also ended up having kissing spine and needing quite a bit of maintenance with both adequan and legend, as well as chriopractic work on a regular basis. Will he ever be a PSG horse? Probably not, but he was fantastic for that little girl, very dependable considering she was a very small 9(ish) year old and he was 16.2.

didgery
Mar. 29, 2012, 11:29 AM
Very cute under saddle. Very butt high. Lovely eye. Seems like a good chap, but I wouldn't go shopping for a horse with a hind end like his. Personality counts more, though—he seems sweet!

RxCate
Mar. 29, 2012, 11:34 AM
He is being geared for the local levels/trail riding so that comment was spot on Denzel, thank you!

@Didgery - He is a total "puppy dog" personality. There's one video when I take the lunge off him and walk away from him to get my reins. He just stands there and waits for me to come back and get ready to go. He's like this everyday.. just a really nice guy.

I will add as an aside... in the trotting video especially, I feel like I'm behind the motion. I don't know if it's my saddle putting me in chair seat, but when I ride him I feel like I'm fighting to stay upright and with him.. is that him or me? I know I need to go take lessons on a non-greenie so I can re-establish my leg.. it has really gone downhill since I've been retraining for people and riding greenies for the past few years. Focusing more on the horse than myself.

I've not really had this issue with this saddle except maybe back when I first got it for my Appendix mare.. I think that was more though because she had a huge jump and I'd get left behind and lack of leg from me.

It's a 2001 Stubben Eidelweiss

lachevaline
Mar. 29, 2012, 12:31 PM
I definitely like him better moving - he looks careful, which is good.

That saddle seems a bit small for you.

RxCate
Mar. 29, 2012, 12:41 PM
Yeah I know that.. It seems Zumba has given me quite the butt in the past few years..

My saddle is great for me right now because I'm riding different horses and it seems to fit them wonderfully.

It's a 16" and i need more of a 17" at this point. I'm keeping my eye out because I want something that fits such a wide variety of horses and that has thigh blocks...

alterhorse
Mar. 29, 2012, 12:59 PM
Ditto Denzel and Digery.

In my experience attempting pushing a down hill conformed horses into frames may result in undue physical stress and eventual predisposition to injury, and that's if the horse can even come into a consistent frame, which many such horses can't, and may become soured if forced.

So yes, a pleasure/trail horse may be the best choice of occupations for this guy. I personally might desire to keep this horse out of the show ring altogether because you never know how far someone may try to push him once he's there.

Let him be someone's sweet back yard pet, and enjoy him for just being who his is.

That's my opinion anyway....

findeight
Mar. 29, 2012, 01:23 PM
OK, you have asked twice why some have not responded so I will go ahead and do so.

He looks sweet, pretty color and like he would make somebody happy to just ride around on. Maybe he could do a tiny course at the local level and he does look safe. For anything beyond that, I really don't care for him.

I would say he had more of a low back then a sway back with the drop right behind the withers then rapidly rising to butt high. He has a ewe neck-look at the bottom, not the topline, where the neck comes out of the chest, it is low and curves the wrong way. He is naturally going to go inverted because that's the way he is built, you can see some resistance to the rein as he flips his head a bit. That might steady up but he physically can't "frame", not something you can school out.

His angles and that real short and steep hip, almost a goose rump, say he will not have alot of step and in the trot and canter vids, he does not appear to have alot of step, green or not.

Also, green or not, he does not fold even in front over the cross rail, knees point down. Maybe that will sharpen up but, physically, he will be limited.

But, you know, if he is safe and the owner likes him and uses him where he is comfortable? That can make up for alot.

The one thing that might of concern is the short, straight pasterns and smallish feet. He may also be tied in below the knee but that does not bother me much. That pastern/hoof arrangement can mean navicular down the road or ring/side bone.

Overall he is a nice horse, not much of a show horse and will have limits outside the very low and local levels.

ohrebecca
Mar. 29, 2012, 01:29 PM
I think he is really cute. I like his front end, don't like his back end. I like his gaits.

As far as getting him acclimated to jumping, it'd help to set up trot poles with the crossrail at the end to help him establish rhythm to the jump. I don't think letting him walk that much on the approach to the rail is helping him. Steady, even trot to the jump is what you should be aiming for, trot poles would help with that.

findeight
Mar. 29, 2012, 01:53 PM
...in the trotting video especially, I feel like I'm behind the motion. I don't know if it's my saddle putting me in chair seat, but when I ride him I feel like I'm fighting to stay upright and with him.. is that him or me?


Probably him. His back drops right behind the withers and that saddle is going to sit futher back. With the back rapidly rising to the butt high, you will need to be careful where the cantle sits on him. Maybe change your padding arround to make sure the cantle does not rub.

It's alright, I rode a schoolie like that, he did OK as a starter type. But he was always sore right where the cantle sat despite all variations of saddles and pad combinations.

RxCate
Mar. 29, 2012, 02:03 PM
Thank you ! Those were the responses I was looking for.

He is definitely never going to be a show horse beyond tiny pleasure classes at the absolute most, or maybe a trail class in the local levels. I told that to the owner the first time I saw him move.

He is a pasture pet, in-your-pocket lovebug/trail horse and that's about it.

I have my answers and confirmations of what I was already thinking. Thanks again COTH! :)

veetiepony
Mar. 29, 2012, 02:04 PM
He moves better than i thought he would from the pictures.

LoveJubal
Mar. 29, 2012, 02:18 PM
I definitely like him better moving - he looks careful, which is good.

He has got a very kind eye, but a butt high/sway-backed shape. With that said, he looks like a "Steady Eddie" as far as his movements. He's never going to be fancy, but he will get the job done because of his attitude and his willingness.

It doesn't matter if a horse is beautiful if it has a sucky work ethic or a heinous attitude. I would rather have a not-so-perfect looking hard worker than a beauty with a bad 'tude.

Like the others have said, don't push him past his conformational limitations and you should be fine. Good Luck!

fairtheewell
Mar. 29, 2012, 02:38 PM
Work him round to build up the topline and strengthen the loin...after that, you will have quite a different looking horse. It takes time. (Just look at the transformation of OTTBs after they have been re-trained). He has a pretty nice canter, but he is being ridden in a way that exacerbates his hollowness....in first stride in the trot he immediately drops his back and goes hollow.

Remember, there are tons of horses with less than perfect conformation that have been winners in all disciplines. There are tons of horses with perfect conformation, who are standing around in fields and getting nowhere.

Attitude is everything, and if he has a great attitude...he has a chance at being successful in whatever he does, but you have to train him in a way that strengthens his weaknesses.

Long Spot
Mar. 29, 2012, 03:33 PM
As far as getting him acclimated to jumping, it'd help to set up trot poles with the crossrail at the end to help him establish rhythm to the jump. I don't think letting him walk that much on the approach to the rail is helping him. Steady, even trot to the jump is what you should be aiming for, trot poles would help with that.

I was going to strongly suggest letting him trot around the end and up to the fence. Only giving him 7 steps of trot the first fence and 5 the second time, you are not letting him establish any energy, balance or rhythm.

He's not my cup of tea, but he looks like a nice enough fellow and if his owner enjoys him and you enjoy him, it's what YOU think of him that matters.