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Some Little CANTER Cuties! (Or the "Help Me Learn About Conformation" Thread)

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  • Some Little CANTER Cuties! (Or the "Help Me Learn About Conformation" Thread)

    Hi all,

    I've ridden for most of my life, but have recently taken a short sabbatical from horses. I'm starting to ride again and get back into the whole horse thing, and I've recently become absolutely enamored with some (ok, ok...you got me, it's actual so many) of the CANTER cuties. I've decided that when I'm in a position to have another horse, I'd definitely like it to be an OTTB.

    Unfortunately, I won't be in such a position for quite a while. So, for now, I can mostly look and drool and ooh and aah and send wistful pictures to friends and family declaring my affection for these lovely horses.

    However, my sifting through the horses has also revealed to me that I don't really have that great of an eye for conformation. Sure...I'll see horses that I think look like nice, solid horses, but it is more of a hunch. In other words, I can't really articulate exactly what it is that draws me to the horse. I can see things like balance, good proportion, etc. But I'm afraid I don't see the finer things, or know exactly what the implications are (ie: shoulder angle, pastern angle, etc.)

    So, if anyone would be so kind as to help educate me, I would greatly appreciate it. Below are 2 of the most recent little CANTER cuties that I've found. To me, both of them look like they have a decent conformation and really just look very kind and darling, to boot.

    What are your opinions of their conformation? Do they seem like they would make good hunter/jumper horses? If so (or not), what conformational attributes offer hints?

    And...on top of that, maybe someone will agree with me that these 2 are just adorable and will scoop them up before my self control dissipates and I end up going to get them myself

    Chaotic Bull
    ^ This guy is a 3 year old, and I think he just looks so kind.

    Early Again

  • #2
    I'm the same way as you. I have learned a little about conformation thanks to COTH but still feel very uneducated when I'm looking at horses. So I will be interested to hear what others have to say.

    But can I just say that I LOVE Early Again?! He looks like a smaller version of my horse. So cute!


    • #3
      Depending what you're looking to do, the OTTB is meant to be an athlete and therefore most who are sound have a chance of being pretty decent for local circuits.

      On top of that, listing photos are notoriously bad, because the volunteers out there taking the photos 1) are volunteers not pro photographers 2) are asking for time from busy folks who don't have long to stand there to take photos 3) are often taking pics of a very fit, very active horse who doesn't want to stand and pose 4) don't have the backgrounds and lighting setups you see for fancy stables. For those reasons, even the best at conformation can easily completely misjudge a horse from its listing without anyone being at fault. Therefore, my opinions below could be totally inaccurate if someone goes to see the horses.

      Both are cute with appealing things about them, but I prefer Early Again. Chaotic Bull has a neck which appears to tie in low. Right now it is built up improperly, but that just tells you something about his racing form, and muscle re-shapes with proper riding. It could be the neck ties in just fine after reconditioning. What bothers me more is his hind legs look longer than his front legs. Notice, he is posed with the camera more toward his front end - that makes the back end of almost any horse look shorter hipped than it really is and pointy. His hind end doesn't really bother me because of the camera angle - it wouldn't keep me from wanting to check him out if I were looking in the area. As for the length of the back legs - well, it could be positioning and an effect caused by the camera, or a real problem which affects his movement and suitability for showing. Only an in-person visit will really answer that. I do like his shoulder as a dressage rider, though the angle of the humerus makes me think it's possible he will have too much knee action to be great in the hunter ring. It can be deceptive, so that's another reason to check him out in person and see. Overall, he's not bad, and if I had other horses to check out in the same place I'd totally check him out.

      Early Again has more going for him from that picture. The pic is taken just slightly more toward his hindquarters, and the result is a horse who looks far more balanced. He has a gorgeous coat and great alert expression which just make him look prettier. Size-wise, though, he's unlikely to be able to make the stride as competition gets tougher, so again it would depend on purpose. His hind leg is straighter, and that actually signals more of a dressage or jumper to me than hunter. I like how his neck ties in better, but again it could have more to do with shape of his muscling than shape of his neck. He also seems to have more even length legs - which means more likelihood of a good self-carriage. His shoulder is nice and more neutral, so that's more likely to result in huntery movement.

      Both horses appear to have relatively smooth toplines across the loin, which is a positive sign for an OTTB. And in person, both could just be amazingly fabulous horses.

      You can *try* to tell from photos, but really it takes seeing them go to have more of an idea. The best thing you can do is get someone who is experienced in retraining racehorses who knows what body changes you'll see, and can tell how they'll look with correct work.
      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.


      • #4
        Chaotic Bull's hind end looks funky. Can't make any solid judgements from the photo, but he looks sickle hocked

        Early Again looks more balanced overall, but the upright pasterns and standing so far under himself in front are a concern.
        Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
        Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
        VW sucks.


        • #5
          I like this one quite a lot.
          http://www.canterusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4232: t11-3053-07-trainer-owned-qricas-grandsteedq&catid=54:ne-trainer-listings

          This too, but not as much.
          http://www.canterusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4235: t11-3056-07-trainer-owned-gelding-qprimal-humorq&catid=54:ne-trainer-listings

          This one is a killer color!
          What they have in common is that the front and back are in balance with each other. I like to look at Canter horses and imagine the pole of a carousel coming up from the ground, If the front part matches the back part they are going to be much more able to balance themselves over their centers. Which will make your life much easier than trying to gather up one who always wants to tip onto his forehand...

          Of your two, I like Early Again better. I like everything but his massive , coarse neck and shoulder.
          * What you release is what you teach * Don't be distracted by unwanted behavior* Whoever waits the longest is the teacher. Van Hargis


          • #6
            Thanks for all of the responses! They've given me good food for thought. I think I also just need to invest the time, personally, in learning more about conformation. I took some time to read about shoulder slopes/angles, and it was enlightening. However, my eye has to get better at recognizing things like that.

            One of the things I have noticed is that I think my perception of balanced/downhill/uphill is a little bit off. To me, the two horses I posted look pretty balanced. Once you point it out, I could see how Chaotic Bull may be a little downhill, but it doesn't seem pronounced to me.

            However, after looking at the 3 horses that you posted, Madeline, they all look downhill to me! Especially the last one. The first one -- the grey -- looks almost balanced, but it still looks a little bit downhill to me. I've come to the conclusion that I probably prefer horses that are a tad uphill...but to me, the uphill-ed-ness looks correct. What am a missing?

            Thanks again for being patient with me. I really do want to develop an eye for this. I think I'm going to have to brave the "real world" and start making a note of what horses move well, jump well, etc., and then make a note of how they are built.


            • #7
              On the first two?

              It is really hard to tell but, if you are loking for a possible Hunter, they need to be attractive to make a positive impression just stepping in the ring. The second horse, the bay, is. You want one that makes you want to keep looking. Nothing glaring there, might prefer a little more substance/bone and the 15h is going to limit if you are buying for resale...but...for 2k???

              The grey is a victim of a really bad picture but I would bet he is downhill with that neck and he has a bit of an unattractive head- may be parrot mouthed too. I realize he is chewing on the lead rope but looks like he has an overbite. On one with a great jump and the right kind of canter, these things are minor details...on one that is untested over fences and does not know how to do a show type canter? You have to think about it.

              Nothing replaces going to actually see them and watching them move but, of these two, the bay is the better if you don't mind the size.
              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


              • #8
                I actually like Chaotic Bull, and think he's the victim of a horrendous picture.

                (which happens, I've gotten used to it, but it makes it hard to really see the whole picture).

                His photo is taken too far from the front, and from a slightly high angle. It makes it hard to see the build of his rear end, and also makes him look a bit short-legged. His stance is a bit funny too, which makes it hard to judge how things are actually built (and making him look like his back legs turn out - but hard to say if they do, or if he's just standing funny).

                His neck does look to tie in a little low, but whether this makes for a downhill build or not sort of depends on the whole body (is croup higher than wither, is stifle higher than elbow) which is sort of hard to judge from this photo. He does look to have a nicely sloped shoulder, and I like how his SI/point of hip lines up. You really would have to go see this one in person to figure out how he looks, though, I think.

                Early Again makes a better first impression (whether it's because he's better, or because he's standing better and the photo is more balanced, hard for me to say). To me he looks like he has a longer shoulderblade, which may make him a slightly better hunter type.

                (heh, should have read netg's post first, haha)
                "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

                My CANTER blog.


                • #9
                  Of the ones Madeline posted--color's about all the last one has. He's EIGHT and still butt-high standing on a flat surface. I'd hate to try finding a saddle to fit him with the way his withers are.

                  First one in that post looks all right to me. A tad high behind, maybe (the background makes it hard to tell) but only four and probably not done growing entirely.

                  The second one, I hate the neck. I'd like it on a saddlebred.

                  From the OP, I think Chaotic Bull has a nice short back and solid-looking legs while my impression of Early Again is he's burly up top on little spindly legs. But also he's SHORT.

                  Going on pedigree, I would take Chaotic Bull, then (oddly) Primal Humor, the butt-high eight-year-old, or flip a coin between him and Rica's Grandsteed.
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                  • #10
                    Larry's Forty Two!

                    Wow! Look at that color! Anybody know how to look up his race record?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Rye View Post
                      Wow! Look at that color! Anybody know how to look up his race record?


                      • #12
                        I've liked Chaotic Bull for weeks, keep going back to the site to look at him. He has a great short back, what looks like a nice long gaskin, although it's hard to see, and a long shoulder. And I always thought Holy Bull looked like he would jump.


                        • #13
                          Thanks everybody for your responses and insight! It's really helpful for me to read about everyone's opinions and the different features that pop out to different people.

                          It'll be exciting when I am actually in the market for a new horse. It's tough though -- there are so many cuties out there right now!

                          But I have to say, there is something about Chaotic Bull that I really like. I realize (more so now) that he may not have the best conformation, but there is just something about him that calls to me. Maybe it's that Holy Bull was one of my favorite racehorses... If I were in a position to have a horse at the moment, I'd probably be willing to at least take a look, and perhaps take a chance on him.

                          Either way, I hope someone snatches these guys up soon (along with all the other lovely, deserving CANTER horses).
                          Last edited by popover; Aug. 3, 2011, 10:04 PM.


                          • #14
                            I have seen a couple of Holy Bull descendants and both turned out to be nice 3' hunter types, and probably had scope to do more.


                            • #15
                              Chaotic Bull is just plain to squatty....and looks to have a bump on the off side knee...his neck is short and if you are tall from the hip to shoulder when you ride him you may feel theres not enough horse in front of you.

                              Bay is cute but to small for re-sale and maybe stride limited. Nice type though if bigger more appealing for re-sale down the road.

                              The Suffold Downs Grey at 1st glance is very appealling but looks body large and neck small and don't like his shoulder.

                              The liver chestnut I love the whole package..theres a horse who is a victom of a bad photo..take off the neck mid way up and look at his conformation w/O distraction of twisted head.

                              Last flashy horse is just that eye candy.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by danceronice View Post
                                Of the ones Madeline posted--color's about all the last one has. He's EIGHT and still butt-high standing on a flat surface. I'd hate to try finding a saddle to fit him with the way his withers are.

                                First one in that post looks all right to me. A tad high behind, maybe (the background makes it hard to tell) but only four and probably not done growing entirely.

                                The second one, I hate the neck. I'd like it on a saddlebred.

                                From the OP, I think Chaotic Bull has a nice short back and solid-looking legs while my impression of Early Again is he's burly up top on little spindly legs. But also he's SHORT.

                                Going on pedigree, I would take Chaotic Bull, then (oddly) Primal Humor, the butt-high eight-year-old, or flip a coin between him and Rica's Grandsteed.
                                It is very clear that the 8 year olds butt is closer the camera than his front. This makes a horse appear to be downhill. I would hazard a guess that he is pretty level or possibly a bit uphill. Hard to really tell anything by the picture.

                                It looks like Early Again's front is closer to the camera, which makes his shoulder look bigger than it is.

                                With Chaotic Bull, the picture is just awful.

                                You really cannot judge CANTER horses based on pictures. Most are taken quickly and by a volunteer. I would go more on feeling from the picture, then go out to see them.

                                The best thing you can do to learn about conformation is start looking at a bunch of hunters. Look at all the angles and compare. This link is for a conformation article for upper level eventers, but can give you an idea about what pieces to look at.