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Eventing confirmation. Thick or thin?

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  • Eventing confirmation. Thick or thin?

    In eventing, is it better to have a thinner built, smaller boned, "refined" thoroughbred? Or one that is thicker and bigger boned? Please explain and i am talking about builds of thoroughbreds not the breed.

  • #2
    I don't discriminate based on whether or not they have big bones, confirmation is much more important.
    I would consider my current horse refined, but he has great confirmation. And he went intermediate from 2007 to when I bought him in 2012 with no major issues.

    RIP Beaming Sportsfield (1998-2012)


    • #3
      in my experience i have found bigger-boned horses to be a lot more sound and sane. it's a generalization with a lot of exceptions, but when i was breaking them the bigger boned horses were usually quieter, easier, and just less hot overall. definitely more sound too. i wouldn't pass on a great horse just because of that but if i was looking for a prospect with soundness in mind i think its important. might be a reason more and more irish sport horses are rising in the sport. seems like TB's are getting lighter and built for more speed and less for longevity. the irish horses tend to have more bone. but of course you can still find a million solid TB's too!


      • #4
        Conformation plz, confirmation is like an affirmative reply to a question


        • #5
          I'm not sure you can really generalize based on build.

          About the only thing I can say is that a broader chest and barrel makes room for more lung expansion which is probably good.

          But in terms of "bone" - like, breadth of leg bones, etc - people generally prefer bigger, but I'm not sure that's definitely better. A lot of folks equate "fine" bones with fragility, but you really can't tell that by looking. What's probably more important is bone density, and overall correct conformation to minimize the stressful impacts on the joints.

          A big boned horse with poor shock absorption might experience more stresses and be more prone to problems than a finer boned horse with the same conformation. Two horse with excellent conformation - maybe the bigger boned one is a better bet as he's more solid. But by the same token, a smaller bodied horse may have an easier time jumping over things.

          When evaluating any type of horse it's really a whole-picture thing.

          All things being equal and with good, correct conformation, I'll take a medium-build type.
          "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

          My CANTER blog.


          • #6
            Agree that it is more about overall build/balance/conformation than width. More of a question of how hard they are on themselves when they move.

            Agree with Caffeinated that bone density is probably more important than bone size, but harder to observe/measure.

            Personally, in general, I have tended to prefer the finer built ones. However, I have found the bigger ones easier to sell ("looks like a warmblood"), so I think that is the general preference.


            • #7
              I personally like a horse with big, solid bone, especially in his legs. I'm asking him to partake in a sport where his legs take a pounding and since I'm quite tall and need a horse that's at least 16 h, I want there to be a solid foundation to take it. When I see deer legs, I just click right by. You can't judge bone density by looking, but I'd say odds are, there's at least a partial relationship there, barring a disease or deficiency in the horse's body.

              I hear a lot of people complain about TB's having no bone and no feet and I think, well, just don't buy those. I end up with solid, sound horses without leg or foot problems because that's what I buy.

              I'm not saying a lighter built horse is a bad thing -- there are SO many variables to soundness and longevity it's impossible to rest it on one thing -- but taking out the variable of me and my management style....I have to say it.....

              I like big bones and I cannot lie......
              Last edited by wildlifer; Nov. 26, 2012, 06:10 PM.
              Life doesn't have perfect footing.

              Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
              We Are Flying Solo


              • #8
                I look for bigger bones as well for the aforementioned reasons. Eventing is so hard on them, better to have some substance. If you are looking for proof of this, look to the western world where halter breeding has bred big chunks of horses on toothpicks that cannot stay sound.



                • #9
                  Most of the truly sound horses I've known, the ones that race and go on to compete or hunt well into their teens are neither especially heavy nor fine, just sort of average. I do think the really heavy boned TBs tend to be harder on themselves than the lighter ones-- not always, but often, I think they just hit the ground harder. Personally I'm way pickier about feet than bone, though.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pheasantknoll View Post
                    I look for bigger bones as well for the aforementioned reasons. Eventing is so hard on them, better to have some substance. If you are looking for proof of this, look to the western world where halter breeding has bred big chunks of horses on toothpicks that cannot stay sound.

                    But that problem is in the hooves, not the legs. Navicular, navicular, navicular. And with warmbloods you get suspensories, suspensories, suspensories...

                    I prefer medium bone and big hooves. Arabs tend to actually be quite sound - part of why they work so well as endurance horses; they can hold up to the pounding their bodies take. Because I also prefer leggy, my horses tend to look smaller boned - but my long-legged TB actually has good bone. I've heard references to recent articles suggesting smaller bones may actually be more dense, but haven't been able to find the articles, so I don't know if they actually exist.
                    If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                    • #11
                      Good conformation + light on their feet

                      To me, that's the key, and if you have those two things it won't matter if they are built like a brick s**t house or are dainty, they should stay pretty sound.

                      I do tend toward small, lighter, maybe "rangy" horses. I like them to move like big, slinky cats and be quick and light on their feet.


                      • #12
                        Last time I fence judged I noticed there was a prototypical tb eventer--I swear 50% of the horses were 16-16.2 medium build tbs. And bay. Just like my guy! And this one (if the link works):


                        • #13
                          In eventing in general, we have more smaller horses that are successful than in the other disciplines. This to me translates to the 'light on your feet' aspect that several people noted - that a big thick 17.2 horse, while appearing substantial, also has to carry all that weight on his feet and joints and is probably a bit more likely to find holes when galloping on ungroomed ground, etc.

                          It's not typical to lose a horse to a cannon bone fracture... which is what most people are looking at when they say "heavy boned." It's sesamoids that are more likely to fracture catastrophically, and of course the various tendon and ligament injuries, and then arthritis in the joints. The more weight the horse carries (in both his own structure and his rider), the more concussion on each joint with each step.

                          It's interesting to me that successful event horses are the most variable in type of pretty much any sport horse, which is probably due to the three phase aspect of the sport. (On the other hand, jumpers used to be much more variable in type; it's a curious question as to how much of this is because the new type is better and how much is because there are fewer random horses given a chance at high level jumpers because of the success of purpose-bred animals.)

                          So I think it comes back to looking at the whole picture of the horse in front of you - his balance, how he moves, how he uses himself. Having good angles in important joints is probably more important than having the appearance of larger bones or the displacement of more volume in the body structure.

                          The Irish have been the most successful at breeding for good cross-country horses, crossing Connemara and Irish Draft on Thoroughbreds, keeping the Thoroughbred shape while adding a bit of additional strength and sturdiness from their native breeds. If I were breeding, that's the sort of structure I'd be looking for, more of a medium build in a 16 h range.

                          Among purebred Thoroughbreds, the steeplechase-bred horses tend to be a bit heavier than the sprinter-bred horses, and they are probably a better type in general if you are looking for animals for a breeding program.
                          If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                          • #14
                            Yes, I will amend my comment because I agree with above -- I did not mean overly heavy boned, i.e. built like a draft cross, I was referring to a solid looking leg that was in proportion to the body. I also want one that doesn't pound the ground when he canters and is well built and balanced overall. Mine which suits pretty much everything I like has about half European TB blood (French and Irish I think) but still has Seattle Slew on both sides, so we definitely have good horses out there.
                            Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                            Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                            We Are Flying Solo


                            • #15
                              When you discuss bone, I think it is important to take into account bone density. A large boned horse is not necessarily stronger than a lighter boned horse with a higher density.

                              Horses that race for years and stay sound have huge density in the bone, which is developed over time with constant modeling impact, at least, that is what I gather from discussions with peeps like Reed. This is one of the reasons I look for horses that have worked or raced as 2yo's since science gives us at least one study that proves young horses who have had some work are sounder and last longer than horses who have not. That is directly related to mildly stressing the bones in the formative stages, which makes them stronger.

                              In contrast, plow horses that pull heavy equipment for years do not have such dense bone, but they have well developed muscles and have a huge amount of strength.

                              An event horse, as opposed to a dressage horse or a jumper, will need to not only have good strong dense bone for the galloping and landing over jumps on cross country, and the repetitive schooling necessary to learn all three disciplines, but must also have some strength to jump and clear the fixed obstacles on XC. In theory your event horse needs to be well balanced in the body and bony structure. If you rely on the size of the bone you are only measuring one factor of the underlying structure. That alone cannot possibly be the only thing that denotes ability or soundness. At least it should not be.
                              Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                              Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                              • #16
                                It depends a lot on what level you are talking about. A low level event horse (training level and below) could almost be anything. Upper level horses I think need to have very good conformation and a bit of bone, I think, helps too if you want them to stay sound.


                                • #17
                                  Its not the size depth or breath but how the use it...A bigger boned heavy front ended horse won't last as long as one who is uphill, balanced and light as a feather.

                                  A fine boned horse who flits over the terrain has good quality foot and same boned balanced body structure can take just as much if not more punishment.

                                  Its the whole package from ground up..but if they are unbalanced, land in a heap or have a significant structural design flaw they can be Titanium and still break...


                                  • #18
                                    From my limited experience, conformation, lightness on feet and ,specifically for event horses, jumping style make a difference in soundness and "success."

                                    There's a horse my trainer rides from time to time. She defines "dainty" for a TB mare, but she is tough and sounder than sound. Timber raced in her younger days, now events at Training (owner is hoping for Prelim 2013) and foxhunts 2-3days/week. She has a very unusual jump, very deer-like, but kicks up her hind end at the very last moment.

                                    Trainer has 3 homebred TB mares, same dam, 2 different sires. There is definitely a family resemblance between the 3, similar conformation. The 2 full sisters are almost twins, ride fairly similarly on the flat, but over fences one lands "hard." It's very jarring. The other absolutely soars over fences. Can't tell you long term success as they are only at Novice, though the 2nd one should have no problem at Training for 2013 barring any injuries. Sister #3 is built a little heftier, but has that nice light jumping style of Sister #2, unfortunately she also has some stifle issues that require some extra attention.

                                    Trainer has 2 other draftx homebreds, same dam, different sires. One looks 1/2 perch when he's only 1/4, but went up to Prelim and at 18 is still packing students around Novice. The younger one looks (and acts) like an overgrown pony, but since his hind legs are a little too straight, she's decided he'll not go above Novice. The dam (1/2perch, 1/2Anglo) is built like a tank, also went Prelim, but did develop ringbone that once it set, was able to go back out at Prelim. She's 27 now and pretty arthritic, shuffles around the farm and keeps the whippersnappers in line.


                                    • #19
                                      I have one of each type, with two in between. I don't think one type is sounder than another. Big horses have more weight which puts more stress on their joints though. I'm not sure that matters if the joints in question are well sized too.
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