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Learning Conformation

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  • Learning Conformation

    I am really trying to learn conformation much more thoroughly right now and have been studying it quite a lot. While I know conformation is not everything and horses can have amazing talent with poor conformation, I would like to hear what I may be missing using an example from people who are more experienced than I.

    Clicking on the link below will show a 6 yo thoroughbred gelding.


    Here is a picture of him with marking I put on him from photoshop. The pink will be his compared to the green "perfect" for where it applies.

    I don't know if you want to hear my assessment from him or if you just want to tell me what you think and I will compare.

    Over all, I think he is a nice horse that fits into a perfect box with some slight faults in his head (small eyes, ears and thick throatlatch) and hind end not fitting the equilateral triangle. His shoulder should fold up nicely in front of him (considering the angle of his shoulder) and should make a good jumper prospect with hocks being nice and low to the ground giving him good power off the hind end. I don't know why you want them to fit into the equilateral triangle though so if you could explain that. I am looking for as thorough as answer as possible. Thanks.

  • #2
    The first thing that jumps out at me about your lines is that you have the stifle way too high, for both points. You can always find the stifle fairly easily by locating the shadowed dip that is approximately in line with his sheath in this photo. That "dip" is the stifle, not the muscle above it.
    "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"


    • #3
      Originally posted by Kalila View Post
      The first thing that jumps out at me about your lines is that you have the stifle way too high, for both points. You can always find the stifle fairly easily by locating the shadowed dip that is approximately in line with his sheath in this photo. That "dip" is the stifle, not the muscle above it.

      All of the lines you have are kind of confusing for me...but one thing that jumps out is the hip angle is at the point of the hip (the bone on the side), not the top of the rump where the lines are.

      I'm also not really sure what the red box around the outside indicates. You also need to remember to address the neck, which on this horse is on the short side (even though it does appear to not be flattering in the picture since his head is erect and facing towards the camera).

      ETA--Also helps to make a horizontal line from elbow to stifle (helps determine whether or not a horse is built downhill; can't always go by the topline 100% b/c of weight differences).
      Last edited by jlphilli; Jan. 17, 2013, 03:33 PM. Reason: clarification of weight
      Originally posted by rustbreeches
      [George Morris] doesn't always drink beer, but when he does, he prefers Dos Equis


      • #4
        Here's my list:
        1. Triangle behind is point of hip, point of buttock, stifle.
        2. You are analyzing the pastern angle in front without relation to the leg. The green line you have bisecting the front leg needs to be drawn all the way to the ground. It should touch the back of the heel.
        3. You can't really assess the angle of the hinds given that the horse isn't standing square, but you should also drop a line straight down from the point of buttock. It should skim the tendons all the way down the back of the cannon area (showing you that the cannon is perfectly vertical).
        4. You'd also want to compare the pastern angle with the shoulder angle.

        There is a whole lot more to see from the front and back as well.


        • #5
          Conformation needs to be looked at as a whole. You can't compare individual parts to an arbitrary standard. What stood out for me on this horse is his shortish, upright neck. He will ALWAYS carry his head a little higher, and always have to work harder to round through his back than he would if his neck was a little longer. That said, I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers.

          Edited: he's also a little chunkier than I like to see a horse, although not by much.


          • Original Poster

            Okay so here is some of my explinatation. I understand how it can be confusing. I am learning mainly using the practical horseman column and Sport Horse Conformation by Christian Schacht.

            I chose this picture because this is how the author in PH says the horse should stand with the legs closest to the photographer standing straight up and down. I realize his hand leg is slightly out behind, but it is very slight so I thought this picture sould work.

            In PH, the first thing she always says is a horse should fit into a perfect box. I made a perfect box in Photoshop and put it around his body. So that is why the square is there. She also says the body should then divide evenly into thirds. The green lines are the lines that divided the box into perfect 3rds and the pink lines next to him is showing where his body is at, which shows a slightly short shoulder to me and a titch long in the back. I took his neck into account by drawing the line up top showing the length of his body. The green lines is the line divided into perfect 3rds and the pink line is the actual length of his neck. I thought it looked short to, but both bood and PH say the next should be 1/3 length of the body and his is just over that.

            In PH, she is always drawing triagles in their butt exactly like this. The green triangle is a perfect equilateral triangle and the pink triangle is what his points are (I now know I am miss placing the stifle, thanks so I would move that, which would make his equilateral triangle even more off. Why is this important, what does it mean?

            So the high neck would make it harder for him to round his back. His shoulder, humerous angle is less than 90, which should make him tuck his legs up under well, right? Am I marking this angle right? I wasn't sure. His cannons are short, which should help with strength, but if you follow the line down his heel bulbs are far in front of the line. This could strain those tendons, making them more possibly to lameness, correct? He is possibly a little downhill if you use the elbow to stifle rule (which I just learned about thanks to jlphilli). He pretty good feet showing quite a bit of heel, which a lot of thoroughbreds lack. Is the length from his stifle to his hock okay, if you corrent my lines?

            Thank you for the responses so far. They have definitely helped.


            • #7
              As for the hind, it's not just that you want an equilateral triangle to fit but more so how it is put together. For example, for jumping horses you want a flatter croup. This horse has a VERY steep, sloping croup (not ideal at all). Then you want to look at the lumbosacral gap. It should be wide enough to allow full range of the hind end but not so wise that it becomes weak. Take a look at conformation photos of some of the TOP show jumpers. You will see what a really nice hind end looks like.

              As for his neck, it looks like he has his head turned slightly towards the camera which could make it appear shorter than it actually is. The neck can create so many optical illusions when photographing!