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Talent over looks?

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  • Talent over looks?

    New here to the forum, and I have a quick question for all the hunter/jumper riders out there. Would you consider a horse that is talented despite it's looks? For example, the horse can easily jump 4' 0" with perfect form, but the horse is only 15.2h, and doesn't have exact picture perfect conformation. I know it's important for hunters to have "the look", but would judges be able to look past that if the horse had good jumping form? Obviously it doesn't matter for jumpers. Would gender come into consideration? Curious about this.
    "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"

  • #2
    If it can do the job, it can do the job. Not every horse out there is going to look like a conformation hunter . I showed a pony who, god love him, was a conformation nightmare; his head was huge, his rump was significantly higher than his withers... but he could jump the moon and I did very well with him. If we were in a conf. class, I could expect to be bumped down a place, but if the trip was good enough, we weren't always moved.

    As for your question about the horse's sex, do you mean whether judges would take that into consideration or whether someone as the buyer would? A judge certainly wouldn't. Some buyers would.
    Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


    • #3
      Does it have a great mind, too?

      If so, I wouldn't care about fugly conformation, just standing still. Don't make it a strip horse and enjoy the rest, eh?

      Nota bene: The point of standing still conformation is that it is a predictor of biomechanical success and soundness. There are some truly great horse out there that are built to fail yet stay sound forevah for no good reason. If you own one of these, keep it.

      If the horse you are selling is in its teens, fugly, talented and sound, your buyers may be looking at one of these rare and valuable birds. I'd Xray this horse if I were buying, but otherwise, I'd treat it like one of those race horses with a long career and long history of soundness and be interested.
      Last edited by mvp; Jan. 6, 2013, 02:44 PM.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat


      • #4
        If the horse jumps good and moves good, it'll do good. If it stays sounds (and that's a big if) give it a try and see how it does!
        My Horse Show Photography/ Blog


        • #5
          Nice and kind, jumps well with my lard a$$ aboard, you bet I'd take fugly. Doesn't get tippy top dollar though from most, which is a shame.
          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
          Incredible Invisible


          • #6
            I have a pony for sale right now, friend/neighbor/trainer thought she had the perfect rider for her, the mother/rider want the pony, father nixed the purchase cuz the pony is "homely"

            even tho this pony will take lead line thru a 4' jump, does very well in the hunters, complete packer, so suitable for their other daughter too, and the price was lowered as this friend/neighbor/trainer wasn't going to take a commission.


            • #7
              Obviously for Hunters looks are incredibly important. This horse could probably still do well in classes. Height doesn't make a difference in my experience (My mare is only 16.1 and did 3'3 classes with the big 17.2 WBs and kicked a**!)
              In B level, I know it wouldn't matter much, as competition isn't incredibly stiff there. But the majority of A Riders (Me excluded!) have a fair bit of money, and their horses are warmbloods....

              Goodluck to you!
              Watermark aka "Cleo" - 5 year old Warmblood cross
              Foxtrot aka "Raven" - 5 year old Hanoverian
              Simon Says aka "Sprout" - 4 year old Welsh pony
              Canadian Eh


              • #8
                But since your mentioned this horse jumps well... I'm assuming if its a textbook square knees and a daisy cutter you'd do well regardless of confo and height.
                Watermark aka "Cleo" - 5 year old Warmblood cross
                Foxtrot aka "Raven" - 5 year old Hanoverian
                Simon Says aka "Sprout" - 4 year old Welsh pony
                Canadian Eh


                • #9
                  Pretty is as pretty does. A lot of horses look better in motion than standing still. I used to show a very wasp-waisted horse in the pro divisions way back when. He was maybe 15.2 on a good day and he wasn't going to win any model classes. But he was always the hack winner and jumped with his knees around his eyeballs. We filled the green conformation at one show as a favor and actually stayed in place over some really top drawer horses. I'll never forget Shachine Belle seeing him standing stripped and waiting for the jog and saying, "Is that Global? I never realized how small he was!"

                  Here he is jumping. Never mind my ducking.

                  And standing still--not great shot, but you get the picture. He also really loved to play in turnout, as you can tell by the missing bell boot and the remaining one flipped up. He was quite a character.
                  Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


                  • #10
                    If I were buying for myself, then no, looks wouldn't be a problem if the horse could do the job. Same for gender. On the other hand if I were buying for resale, then I would take height, looks and gender into account somewhat depending on what market I was trying to reach.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by supershorty628 View Post
                      If it can do the job, it can do the job. Not every horse out there is going to look like a conformation hunter .
                      This 100%.
                      My mare is a little long but is quiet, wise beyond her years and would jump the moon if I asked.

                      I wouldn't trade her for the world!

                      Plus.... one of the riders/coaches who subbed for GM in the 2012 On Demand video I watched the other day mentioned that many of the 'Conformation Hunters' have the worst jump.

                      Good luck on your venture!


                      • #12
                        My horse is gorgeous. Bright shiny chestnut, four whites, narrow blaze on a pretty face with a big, kind eye. Strangers stop me at every horse show we go to to tell me how adorable he is. He looks every inch the perfect show hunter.

                        And we get beat all the time by horses that jump 8 better jumps, have better trots/canters/whatevers.

                        Looks ain't everything.


                        • #13
                          I am also the firm believer of pretty is as pretty does.

                          I have a beautiful 4 year old hunter that looks the part. He is the quintessential typey hunter that I love from back in the day (tb types)

                          But he is still, well, 4. Has his days. So while I am happy he is pretty, he still needs to prove himself with a good attitude and I am confident that will come with age.

                          I used to ride a horse named Beaver. He certainly wasn't pretty, but he was a steady Eddie and I loved to show him!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Kalila View Post
                            New here to the forum, and I have a quick question for all the hunter/jumper riders out there. Would you consider a horse that is talented despite it's looks? For example, the horse can easily jump 4' 0" with perfect form, but the horse is only 15.2h, and doesn't have exact picture perfect conformation. I know it's important for hunters to have "the look", but would judges be able to look past that if the horse had good jumping form? Obviously it doesn't matter for jumpers. Would gender come into consideration? Curious about this.

                            I would not consider such a horse for competing at the AA level. Other horses have talent and looks, and a "non traditional" look would be marked down. Hunters is a talent competition, with looks as a component. Obviously looks matter a lot in the conformation division, but even in the regular divisions, "way of going" is considered in the scoring . And "way of going" includes the overall picture.

                            As a trainer once said to me: "A pretty head is really important. That's what walks in the ring first and you want the judge to have a positive first impression."

                            If you bought a not-so-good looking horse, the judge's first impression would not be a positive one. You would be starting with a negative attitude and the horse would have to jump better than the other horses just to be considered as good.

                            As far as height --- Yes, some smaller horses can compete with horses which are 4" taller. But, they tend to be freaks, and are certainly the exception to the rule. That is why the USEF re-instituted the small hunter division; to give small horses a division in which they can be competitive.

                            At local shows, looks are not as important. But IMHO, you will still have to be better than a pretty horse to be considered as good.

                            Gender doesn't matter, unless a mare goes around looking snarky when she is in season.
                            "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                            Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


                            • #15
                              This seems to be just like what Dr. Deb Bennett was talking about at the clinic (VOD from USEFnetwork!). She said that confirmation was too often used as an excuse for why a horse wasn't performing as well as well as it might. I think what she was getting at is that if riders ride their horses straighter, they will go better and that bad movement results from bad riding more than conformation. I don't have the knowledge to comment on whether or not I agree with her, but it certainly is an interesting idea. From my limited knowledge and experience, though it does seem like past performance is a better indicator of future performance than conformation. I'm not sure what a hunter judge would say, but not all horses are going to be beautiful, but as someone who loves horses I don't think any horse could be ugly enough (especially not when all cleaned up for a show) that it would make such a lasting and horrible impression on the judge's mind that he or she would discount an otherwise brilliant trip.


                              • #16
                                I recently had a really pretty gelding with lovely movement, but was a huge pain in the arse and had occasional tantrums with me. I now have a draft cross with a giant block head, roman nose and out-of-place large neck, but he is unflappable, super willing and loves to jump. Guess which one I prefer greatly?

                                I'll take a great mind over pretty any day.
                                Blog chronicling our new eventing adventures: Riding With Scissors


                                • #17
                                  pretty is as pretty does!!!!!!!!!!!
                                  Author of COTH article "The Other Side of Aaron Vale"