The Chronicle of the Horse
MagazineNewsHorse SportsHorse CareCOTH StoreVoicesThe Chronicle UntackedDirectoriesMarketplaceDates & Results
 
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 33
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 2000
    Posts
    11,679

    Default Ideal Conformation For An Upper Level Prospect?

    Most of the upper level horses I see (via TV or Internet) seem to be large, rangy TB type horses with long legs and powerful hind ends.

    How much harder would it be for a short coupled, 16.0H WB with a (comparitively) small hind end, but a huge stride and a nice jump, to move up through the levels?

    I know there are exceptions to every rule, but in general, at what level might such a horse start to have problems keeping up with his bigger, rangier peers, based purely on his size?

    I see a lot of "heavier than TB's" at the lower levels. Can a mid-sized WB still be competitive given the questions asked at the Preliminary level? Intermediate level? Beyond that?
    "I used to have money, now I have horses."



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2002
    Location
    West Coast of Michigan
    Posts
    36,321

    Default

    I think "huge stride" can make up for vertical height to a large degree, particularly if galloping comes easy to the animal and it is not shaking the earth with every step it takes. Prelim and below, you will see all varieties and many examples of unconventional types. But I and A you will usually find the rangier ones, with the exceptions being the GALLOPING MACHINES.
    Click here before you buy.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec. 2, 2004
    Posts
    3,386

    Default

    Okay I'll take first crack at this.

    I think, at the move up beyond Prelim, that the ability to have speed is the biggest factor that some horses cannot meet. And then that ties into endurance and the recovery to do the sj the next day. So any horse that lacks the muscle (and the right kind of muscle - think long strand muscle vs bunchy ie long distance runners vs wgt lifters), and the big engine, will begin to tire and not have the ability to be as careful the last day.

    A horse like you describe can have all the dressage and jump ability but the distances and speeds will be the divider eventually. It's not the size (hh) but the individual and the conformation proportions, heart and attitude.
    Last edited by pony grandma; Jan. 14, 2013 at 03:32 PM. Reason: DW beat me - ditto the lighter stride
    About the only time losing is more fun than winning is when you're fighting temptation.
    -- Tom Wilson, actor & comedian


    1 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2001
    Location
    Lexington, KY--GO BIG BLUE!!
    Posts
    3,324

    Default

    How nice is "nice jump?" Are we talking grand prix jumper nice, or fancy working hunter nice? The former will get you over a max oxer in the mud from a less-than-ideal distance. The latter? Maybe not. But that may not be a "conformational" difference so much as a style/talent/way of going difference. You're better off with an uphill moving/jumping horse, rather than one who buries himself on his forehand before he rocks back to push.

    Many horses with "nice jumps" top out at prelim. They may have the scope for a 4' hunter or sj course in an arena, but just don't have the Extra ability to get around an intermediate+ course in the mud, on hills, after a long course, etc. Similarly, you may have a prelim/intermediate/advanced horse trial horse, but not a "three-day" horse (meaning, horse doesn't have the gallop/jump/stamina/soundness for the extra length of a CCI...which meant a lot more back in the days of A/B/C/D).

    My most common observation in lot of upper level horses is big long shoulders (emphasized by mountainous withers, mostly because they're trim and fit), a long uphill neck, and a "useful" hind end. Winsome Adante was notoriously straight behind, but it certainly didn't prevent him from winning Rolex multiple times! There is a lot of variation, and an upper level horse is more a product of its mind, soundness, way of going, and talent. While conformation may impact soundness and way of going, plenty of horses "outrun" their physical appearance. In most cases, you simply don't know you have an upper level horse until it gets there.
    “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
    ? Albert Einstein

    ~AJ~



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 20, 2008
    Location
    Sunshine State
    Posts
    2,215

    Default

    Maybe we should start a new thread.... Show me a conformation photo of your advanced horse. The two at our barn, at first glance, are completely different in type. 15.3 hh tb, very "plain" looking little guy and a 16.3 h TB/Han cross, again a "functional" rather than pretty head, but a more substantial guy than you'd think could do the job and a pleasant horse to look at.

    As AJ mentioned, both have HUGE withers, are naturally quite uphill, and great length of hip. Their styles of going are quite different, but both found galloping easy. They are super adjustable and naturally balanced. As an aside, they're also two of the most level headed horses ever. Both will babysit a beginner trotting around the ring, just as happily as they will tackle cross country. I used to believe that upper level horses had to be hot. I'm glad to see that it's not the case!
    The rebel in the grey shirt


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 1, 2003
    Location
    Happily in Canada
    Posts
    5,022

    Default

    Here is Wega, the silver medallist at the 2012 games. She is a "low" % TB, I believe in the 55% range.

    She definitely looked heavier to me, and rode "heavier" too. Other horses that got tired at 2012 and were both WB and younger, were Mark Todd's Campino and Wiliiam Fox-Pitt's Lionheart.

    On the other hand... they made it around (nursed by their experienced, talented riders).

    Each horse is an individual. I read Winning by Frank Chapot, which has a great section on conformation. He compares his Grand Prix horses, some of which have absolute opposite extremes of conformation (e.g. one with a very sloping shoulder and one with a very upright shoulder). The final word was that you had to take each horse and find out its strengths - sometimes conformation didn't result in the performance he expected.

    If you want to know if YOUR horse will make it... why not pay for an opinion of someone who has lots of experience seeing, picking, and training upper-level mounts?
    Blugal

    You never know what kind of obsessive compulsive crazy person you are until another person imitates your behaviour at a three-day. --Gry2Yng



  7. #7
    Join Date
    May. 3, 2008
    Posts
    1,133

    Default

    I think it also depends on what you mean by Upper Level Prospect. It appears that we are definitely seeing two types of Upper Level events. 1-Badminton, Burghley and sometimes Rolex and 1a-Pau, Luhmuhlen and the Olympics. I don't know enough about Adelaide xc to say where it falls. Depending on the course designer, WEG will vary. For the first type of event, the heavier types will likely struggle. For the second, I think it depends enormously on how holding the ground is. The more it rides like a long SJ course, the less stamina/galopping ability you need.

    At the lower levels, now that all CIC's have to have SJ before xc, I would say that you can get away with a pretty heavy horse up to the three star level because you no longer need to worry about having anything left after xc. You can then qualify for a 4 star with a fair amount of time penalties at your CCI***

    I suspect we're heading towards the total elimination of the CCI (with xc in the middle) in the next 5-10 years. Then it really won't matter.

    ETA-Agree with the above posters-monster withers seemed to be the ONLY thing that almost all four star horses have in common.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2000
    Location
    Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
    Posts
    19,084

    Default

    And even though twisty and making use of all the terrain variation possible, the Olympics course was the minimum possible length for a 4* and about mid-length for a 3*. Internationally, the Germans at least were saying it was a 3* course. Even though it created havoc with so many of the horses who ran it, including most of the "pure" WBs, it was nowhere near the equivalent of a Badminton or Burghley.

    Now if you're looking at continental Europe and their two 4*s, the Olympic course looks like one of those.

    Eventing at that level is looking for its soul between those two competing visions. What horses will excel over the next ten years simply cannot be predicted until the courses they are running become rather more standardized. As things are now, even with the new style European courses, a hefty percentage of TB blood seems to still be needed to get through all three phases with a shot at the ribbons.

    Wega is unusual because she was purpose bred for eventing for at least two generations. I also think that her breeders know that she is a 3* horse and that's why Mrs. Medicott is looked at as the 4* horse for Sara Algotsson-Ostholt. I doubt if Wega will EVER be asked to do a 4*. Neither the Germans nor the Swedes seem to think that 4* level experience is necessary for the Olympics.

    Edited to add: I've just been doing a bit of research on Wega and Mrs Medicott. Mrs M is 3 years younger than Wega and won Le Lion as a 6 yo. She was 24th as a seven year old--2010. Wega went to Le Lion once as a 7yo and was 9th. Neither horse has run a 4*. Mrs M has even less TB blood than Wega from what I can see from her pedigree (original name was Reality 39). Wega has seven full TBs in her 16 ancestor generation, and, IIRC, Mrs M has six, but her damsire was Prince Thatch. Mrs. M is registered Hanoverian, but her sireline is pure Holsteiner and through that she picks up Ramzes, Cor de Bryere, Cottage Son and Ladykiller . La Fair, the dam who was at the Olympics, also never ran a 4*; she had two half brothers who were also bred by Mrs. Algotsson and ridden internationally by her daughters for Sweden at WEGs and Olympic games and only one of those ever ran a 4*. One was at the Lexington WEG and didn't finish the XC. I have to say that it's incredibly neat that the mother breeds International competitors for her daughters to ride in Championships for Sweden.--all of these are out of the half TB mare Princess Fair (or in the case of Wega, her granddam)

    In the end, it all depends on the horse.



    Quote Originally Posted by Blugal View Post
    Here is Wega, the silver medallist at the 2012 games. She is a "low" % TB, I believe in the 55% range.

    She definitely looked heavier to me, and rode "heavier" too. Other horses that got tired at 2012 and were both WB and younger, were Mark Todd's Campino and Wiliiam Fox-Pitt's Lionheart.

    On the other hand... they made it around (nursed by their experienced, talented riders).

    Each horse is an individual. I read Winning by Frank Chapot, which has a great section on conformation. He compares his Grand Prix horses, some of which have absolute opposite extremes of conformation (e.g. one with a very sloping shoulder and one with a very upright shoulder). The final word was that you had to take each horse and find out its strengths - sometimes conformation didn't result in the performance he expected.

    If you want to know if YOUR horse will make it... why not pay for an opinion of someone who has lots of experience seeing, picking, and training upper-level mounts?
    Last edited by vineyridge; Jan. 14, 2013 at 08:50 PM.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 28, 2003
    Location
    KY, USA
    Posts
    1,941

    Default

    We've done competitive horse judging (in multiple venues), studied, taken TPEO, and discussed the topic with some of the best in the world (in addition to competing).

    The one thing that surprised me most is that our advanced horses invariably were NOT the compact, balanced animals everyone taught me was best - they were long backed! Not saying this is a rule, but it was true for our 3. And they all had GREAT hips with long hip muscles tying in far down the leg. One was a fabulous galloper, the other two were adequate at best. Go figure.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 1, 2007
    Location
    Gettysburg, PA
    Posts
    2,640

    Default

    Here is a full Irish Draught (RID) at Intermediate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHgbYSKQqQ0
    So the horse you describe should be very able to move up the levels with proper conditioning and training, provided the heart to do it is also there
    Epona Farm
    Irish Draughts and Irish Sport horses

    Join us on Facebook



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2000
    Location
    Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
    Posts
    19,084

    Default

    From what I've been able to gather, longer backs are usually a positive for jumping--both in show jumpers and eventers.

    Quote Originally Posted by secretariat View Post
    We've done competitive horse judging (in multiple venues), studied, taken TPEO, and discussed the topic with some of the best in the world (in addition to competing).

    The one thing that surprised me most is that our advanced horses invariably were NOT the compact, balanced animals everyone taught me was best - they were long backed! Not saying this is a rule, but it was true for our 3. And they all had GREAT hips with long hip muscles tying in far down the leg. One was a fabulous galloper, the other two were adequate at best. Go figure.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 22, 2000
    Location
    passepartout
    Posts
    10,164

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by horsetales View Post
    Here is a full Irish Draught (RID) at Intermediate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHgbYSKQqQ0
    So the horse you describe should be very able to move up the levels with proper conditioning and training, provided the heart to do it is also there
    I'm not sure what your point is, except that when we have these discussions, there's usually someone who chimes in with the claim that a horse with over 1/2 or 3/4 or, in this case, 100% RID is a suitable UL event horse.

    This video shows a horse getting around an average, flat Intermediate XC. The horse is heavy over the ground, his gallop doesn't exactly flow, his jumping is adequate but doesn't show scope or cattiness. The rider has to push to make up time between fences -- and this is only Intermediate.

    And it turns out he didn't quite make the time and he had 20 faults in show jumping the next day. That's 5 fences down -- was he a little tired, perhaps?

    Which is to say, for the purposes of this thread, that this horse doesn't represent the ideal.

    A horse like Wega succeeds with relatively little TB blood because she's the product of multiple generations of breeding by an educated, disciplined breeder. But she's an exception rather than the rule and will remain so as long as Advanced eventing requires a horse to gallop at 570 mpm over a course of 3000-4500m.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr. 30, 2002
    Location
    Looking up
    Posts
    6,279

    Default

    I usually chime with this caveat:

    Hardly anyone in the horse world today really can look at a truly FIT horse and know what they are seeing.

    A fit horse looks rangy and leggy. They're fit. That's why.

    Years upon years of experience making fit horses, keeping them fit, schooling and riding and competing a fit horse -- plus breeding horses that become top competition horses -- gives you an education in what works and what is improbable.

    JER always does the research -- and the answer is, there is no "ideal". There's a type that we look for because that type proves to be able to the do the job once fit. Just like the cutting horse people sure aren't looking for our eventing type of horse, we shouldn't be looking for the cutting type of horse or the cart pulling type of horse to do a galloping job. But within that very large "type" category there can be a lot of variation, from Biko to Headley Britannia. (Champions about 4 hands apart!)
    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." -- Emerson
    www.eventhorse.wordpress.com


    2 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec. 1, 2007
    Location
    Gettysburg, PA
    Posts
    2,640

    Default

    No, what I am saying is the horse described- I see a lot of "heavier than TB's" at the lower levels. Can a mid-sized WB still be competitive given the questions asked at the Preliminary level? Intermediate level? Beyond that?

    can be competitive. Most mid-sized WB often have a fair amount of TB and if fit and the heart is there can be competitive at those levels
    Epona Farm
    Irish Draughts and Irish Sport horses

    Join us on Facebook



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 2000
    Posts
    11,679

    Default

    Thanks for all the replies. I am going on a buying trip this weekend, looking for a young horse for my trainer to bring up through the levels. Since I have been a H/J person for 50 years, I am trying to train my eye for what event horses "should" look like.

    By "upper levels" I mean "higher than Intermediate". I don't think that anyone can look at a 4 - 5 year old and call it a Rolex horse (despite what many sale ads say )

    I totally agree that a long stride is pretty much necessary. The horse I have in event training now is a WB; a big WB. But when he opens up his canter he has a 16' stride. So he can easily make the time at training/prelim without getting out of a hand gallop. Even his trainer (an ex-Olympian and Pan Am games rider) has now admitted that making time will never be a problem for him.

    But, I know that he is an exception.

    Yes, my trainer will absolutely have the final say. But I am trying to narrow down the list of horses to look at to about 6, and I do not want to leave a horse off the list because of any preconceived notions.

    Interestingly enough, I see that Wega's neck is very thick where it ties into the shoulder, making it harder to get her into a dressage frame. While WFP.s horse has a long, swan neck, set high on his shoulder, which would make it easy for him to drop behind the bit with a lesser rider.

    Based on this thread, I am now adding a horse to my must see list which I had been on the fence about looking at. It is the opposite of the horse I described in the first post. The first horse is a jaw dropping mover and, given the right training and ride, should always place very high in dressage. I know that, at the lower levels, placings tend to be pretty much decided by the dressage score; plus my hunter background makes me gravitate towards a horse with a free flowing movement and lots of suspension. But, since not one person mentioned the ability to win dressage, I can see now that I should not be placing so much emphasis on dressage movement when looking for a horse who can move up the levels.

    The advantage to buying the first horse, though, is that if he does not have what it takes to get past Prelim, he still has a career as a dressage horse.
    "I used to have money, now I have horses."



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2000
    Location
    Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
    Posts
    19,084

    Default

    Just a note about dressage at the 4* level. To compete internationally and have a chance to make up for a lesser dressage score, a horse must score 69% or above.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire


    1 members found this post helpful.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct. 22, 2001
    Posts
    5,211

    Default

    I think you can have the best conformed horse in the world, and it can decide at Preliminary that it just doesn't want to play ball XC and there's nothing you can do about it - it'll be happier in a different job. In comparison, I've seen (and owned) Advanced horses who I would have lost good money betting they wouldn't jump around an Intermediate, but they like their jobs so much that they do it in spite of their physical shape, rather than because of it. Thus, when you're buying one to go up the ranks, I think you look for the best option you can find, but assume that it will be hard to really know what it's going to be until it's going Prelim or so.

    Generally speaking though, I think when looking at young prospects I look for a high preponderance of TB blood, a fantastic natural walk and canter (can fix the trot), and and an almost catty way of going - I like ones that seem to be easy on themselves. Since I tend to be trying for youngsters who will go up the levels, I care less about whether they look like they will win the dressage at Novice, and more that they have correct and straight movement and relative trainability as they move up. i put much more focus on their jump: I don't look for them to snap their knees like a hunter prospect, but I do want them to naturally want to put their forearms above the horizontal and to use their hind ends well. I don't mind slightly straighter angles, knowing that I'm likely going to have to do a bit more care of the hocks, but I actively dislike long pasterns and too straight a shoulder.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan. 19, 2005
    Location
    PA
    Posts
    13,103

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by vineyridge View Post
    Just a note about dressage at the 4* level. To compete internationally and have a chance to make up for a lesser dressage score, a horse must score 69% or above.

    While true...rideability is far more important than outstanding movement. To watch a 4* event...very very few are outstanding movers....not even the winners. They lay down an accurate nice test. They would not be the horse you look for to be an UL dressage horse. If a youngster has that sort of movement...sell him quick as a dressage horse. Top eventers need to be nice movers but do NOT need to be outstanding.....more important will be that you can lay down a consistent test.

    I know a few of the horses at the UL who routinely finish in the top 10 after dressage.....and they are NOT fancy movers at all.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2000
    Location
    Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
    Posts
    19,084

    Default

    Got Spots and BFNE have pretty much nailed the dressage aspects of the sport, IMO--at least from my research.

    BTW, Lord Helpus, it's great that you are going into Event Horse Owning. The sport needs people like you. Welcome to the Dark Side and I hope it becomes very fulfilling for you.
    "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
    Thread killer Extraordinaire


    3 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 2000
    Posts
    11,679

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GotSpots View Post
    .... I don't look for them to snap their knees like a hunter prospect, but I do want them to naturally want to put their forearms above the horizontal and to use their hind ends well....
    Thanks for answering a question I had forgotten to ask.

    One possible horse looked great - until it started jumping. While it was always even with its front legs, he never got his forearms to the horizontal. But he cleared 3'6" easily just by jumping higher. In my short time in Eventing, I have seen some horses be successful, even with that jumping style, so I had him on my original list to look at. But my "hunter eyes" decided that I could not live with that look in a horse I owned; I would wince watching it over every jump.

    Now I know I do not have to feel unreasonably prejudiced, because I, too, want to only consider horses whose forearms reach the horizontal in mid air. That they must have the push off to be scopey is a given.
    "I used to have money, now I have horses."


    1 members found this post helpful.

Similar Threads

  1. I just got my first upper level prospect!
    By The Hobbit in forum Off Course
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: May. 18, 2012, 10:25 AM
  2. Finding an upper-level prospect
    By Tamsin in forum Dressage
    Replies: 44
    Last Post: Jan. 24, 2012, 12:52 PM
  3. upper level prospect
    By Derby Lyn Farms in forum Sport Horse Breeding
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: Mar. 24, 2011, 07:36 AM
  4. Replies: 19
    Last Post: Apr. 23, 2010, 02:14 PM
  5. Upper Level Event Prospect- Has found a wonderful home!
    By RyuEquestrian in forum Giveaways
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: Apr. 7, 2010, 06:06 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •