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Ideal Conformation For An Upper Level Prospect?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Lord Helpus View Post
    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 don't focus on that....there are a lot of the french horses and TB horses that jump VERY tight up front but do not raise their forearms. But it is your horse....I care a lot more that they seem to make good decisions as to leaving the ground and have scope. I also care a lot more about their mechanics with their hind end than with the front. Much easier to fix the front than the back.
    ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

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    • #22
      Originally posted by GotSpots View Post
      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 agree with this, although I'm not so picky about the forearms if the jumps aren't big enough. I want to see the horse jump with its hind end and with the shoulder elevated. If the horse does that well, there's very little effort left to make with the legs.

      Also, I want to see an elevated head/shoulder coming up to the jump. If this is the horse's natural way of going, you'll save a lot of time because they'll set themselves up for the fence.

      Originally posted by Lord Helpus View Post
      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.
      But be aware that XC jumping is about efficiency. The jump needs to be efficient and effective, but not necessarily attractive in the h/j style. The horse also needs to be forward-thinking and forward-moving at all times.

      Lord Helpus, as you're so close by, why not stop in at JMP and have a talk with Mike about eventers? He knows a lot, to put it mildly, and is always rather succinct about a horse's abilities and potential. Even the photos in his office are an education. His is a brain you should definitely be picking.

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      • #23
        Originally posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
        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.
        100% agreed. But with the caveat that those horses only finish well when they are matched with riders who have the ability to deliver in the dressage ring.

        Personally, when buying a horse for a rider to compete, I think you need to be very very honest about your goals and your rider's strength/weaknesses right from the start. There are lots of super riders out there, but they all have their strengths/weaknesses.

        If the goal, for instance, is to genuinely end up with a competitive international horse, my approach would be a different depending on how strong my rider was in the sandbox. If I was buying for WFP or someone similarly talented at delivering on day 1, I would not be so concerned about finding a really super mover. If the rider can genuinely compete on that stage, and squeeze every point from every movement...my focus and money would be on finding the real deal when it comes to jumping.

        On the other hand, if I am buying for a rider with less experience or ability when it comes to getting the most points on the flat, I would be more inclined to take some chances on something a bit fancier. It may mean taking on something that is a bit chancier when it comes to having the endurance necessary to get the job done with a minimum of time penalties and still be fresh enough to jump well. The nice bonus of this approach being, as the OP pointed out, that this type of horse can often be sold on into another discipline for good money.

        By the same token, if the goal is really to have a 3*/4* horse rather than competing for a team slot or having top ten performances at big events internationally, I would once again give up some fancy in order to up my chances of finding something that is the real deal cross-country.

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        • #24
          Originally posted by Lord Helpus View Post
          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've never seen a short back on any horse at a 4* event except for Merloch.

          If I were shopping, I would look for good feet, slight length of back (not short coupled), good withers, a neck that comes out at a good place (not too high, as it stifles galloping), a canter and gallop that is not "heavy" and is efficient across the ground. If I'm looking at a horse who is already jumping, I want scope but not *boing* if that makes sense. I want efficiency over the jumps and not one that is yanking knees to eyeballs over everything. And of course, the brain. I want the trainable brain, because that's the most important thing. As you walk through upper level barns, you'll find Allllllll kinds. Chunky, tall, lanky, crooked, cribbers, lug-heads...but they all have a trainable brain that love the job.

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          • #25
            The Oklahoma stallion testing

            I have been looking for a stallion for my Selle Francais mare and I have found that there is a nice video that those stallion who have completed the testing for the last few years have and it is similar for each stallion...a bit of dressage, a bit of jumping, and a bit of cross country. The neat thing is that they are doing the same thing over the same courses and you get to see how they each handle the elements. There is one for Bon Balou http://www.dreamscapefarm.com/HorseDetail.aspx?ID=566 for example and while he is a warmblood and an exceptional jumper he also takes the rider to the jumps cross country and has good foot speed and loves cross country. There is anther video of Contiano http://www.branscombfarm.com/breedin...09-contiano-bf who is also exceptional over fences and is an outstanding young stallion but he is much more over jumping the cross country fences and not the galloping horse taking his rider to the fences on cross country. His galloping style is less efficient for eventing. Nevetheless he is a superb jumper of exceptional talent but not an eventer type. Now this is less about conformation as theses are very well conformed or they would not be presented for the performance test. It is more about how they are excellent but not necessarily eventers. The other Branscomb stallions I think also have this video to compare...super useful to me. It is interesting to compare very good stallions with similar video. PatO
            Last edited by columbus; Jan. 15, 2013, 04:54 PM.

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            • #26
              I may not be an experienced eventer, but have some experience with TB and types and jumping cross country, and my concern at the higher levels is soundness - and you, OP, correctly notice the big engine and I think its important, because when the TBs are trained as racers, you watch them and they really pull from the front - watch the new mare in the recent thread, Jess, off the track, and her hind end trails and her front end pulls and she looks heavy on her front end. I think she can be a fantastic eventer, but she and other horses like her who learn (through dressage, probably) to sit back and USE their engine, develope their engine, and learn how to stay lighter up front, can probably stay sound for the upper levels in eventing, besides use that engine for the big jumps and to get themselves underneath for the bigger banks-up and things.

              So to address my thoughts about the OP, a horse with a smaller 'engine' may well need simply to be more rigorously trained to USE that engine rather than pull with the front end, and thereby may do well.

              You're right = the successfull eventers have and engine which enables them to jump and also to stay sound enough to get through the higher levels.

              My horse had soundness problems as a youngster moving up to the higher levels, but has a TB naturally front end heavy way of going. After some years off, and two years of dressage training, we are now bringing him back to eventing by developing that engine strongly to see how that will change his ability to handle the complexity and scale of upper level eventing. If he can stay light and use his engine, we think that is the ticket for him and probably many many other horses between topping out at Training and being able to go on from there. His new eventing coach for this season is very dressage-centric, too, and we hope will nail down the regimine he needs to build that engine and use himself athletically and thus remain sound and strong in the upper divisions.

              We'll see, but these are my thoughts on that "engine" the OP is talking about.
              My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods

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              • #27
                Originally posted by Ambitious Kate View Post
                because when the TBs are trained as racers, you watch them and they really pull from the front
                Some TBs do this but not the ones you want for eventing.

                You want an uphill gallop that covers the ground with a free, open shoulder. The shoulder can be free and open because the horse is pushing forward with the hind end and the withers are elevated.

                Since we're talking about ideals here, it's just so much easier to start with a horse that has this gallop than to try to work with a gallop that's forehand-heavy or (in the case of many WBs) has too much up-and-down and knee action.

                And also because we're talking about ideals, here's a video of one of my ideal event horses, Hooray Henry II, who is now 32 and still being ridden regularly. (He's only 30 in this video.) He was as natural a galloper and jumper as I've ever seen.

                Same goes for Welham, the not-so-well-bred son of a TB teaser who went on to win $1M show jumping with John Whitaker. Welham won the Hickstead Derby at age 20, then went on to fox hunt and show in veterans' classes. He was one of those athletic individuals who could have done anything.

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                • #28
                  Tom Reed's proposed eventing studbook has got an analysis and description of what they think an UL event horse should be. It's quite detailed and worth reading. You can find it on his thread on the Breeding board.

                  I'm not quite sure what they mean by a dry texture of the legs, though. Anyone know what is meant?
                  "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                  Thread killer Extraordinaire

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                  • #29
                    Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                    Tom Reed's proposed eventing studbook has got an analysis and description of what they think an UL event horse should be. It's quite detailed and worth reading. You can find it on his thread on the Breeding board.

                    I'm not quite sure what they mean by a dry texture of the legs, though. Anyone know what is meant?
                    I've always thought that the word "dry", when used to describe a horse, means that there isn't a lot of extra "stuff" on that particular feature. Such as, Arabians are always said to have dry heads.
                    "One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
                    "Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"

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                    • #30
                      Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                      I'm not quite sure what they mean by a dry texture of the legs, though. Anyone know what is meant?
                      Kalila described it. 'Dry' is a term used to describe legs in which tendons and joints are well-defined, there's nothing extra under the skin.

                      Akhal-Tekes are supposed to have dry legs. I wish I had a close-up of my 1/2 AT's skinny legs and 'goat' feet (as JMP calls them) -- they are very dry indeed.

                      (The YEH judges were quite taken aback by her conformation, although her legs and everything else are very much in keeping with Tom's ideal. The dry factor in a 14.2hh TB-Teke was a bit extreme for them.)

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                      • #31
                        "Tom Reed's proposed eventing studbook has got an analysis and description of what they think an UL event horse should be. It's quite detailed and worth reading. You can find it on his thread on the Breeding board."

                        He appears to have for the most part cut and paste the conformation analysis from his jumping stud book (which for the most past is mainly made up of his own stallions). I can understand listening to jer's opinion, but I am not sure why you would rely on TReed to tell you what to look for in an eventer, although i am sure he will not be lacking in an explanation on why he is an expert on the subject.To me it looks like he has had to modfify his business model to sell himself and his horses.

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                        • #32
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                          • #33
                            Originally posted by JER View Post

                            And also because we're talking about ideals, here's a video of one of my ideal event horses, Hooray Henry II, who is now 32 and still being ridden regularly. (He's only 30 in this video.) He was as natural a galloper and jumper as I've ever seen.
                            Now that just about made me tear up! You can just tell that that horse has got all the heart and soul to go with that lovely frame of his.

                            What a treat to see him sound and happy and loved.
                            Don't let anyone tell you that your ideas or dreams are foolish. There is a millionaire walking around who invented the pool noodle.

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