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History of the checkerboard?

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  • History of the checkerboard?

    The checkerboard pattern on the rump was mentioned on another thread. Does anyone really know the history of it?

    It seems to be a thing I remember from my youth, but I've rarely ever seen it done, and frankly, to me it distracts more than it flatters.

  • #2
    I believe they're called quarter marks

    I think my "Grooming to Win" book has a whole section on it, and might or might not explain the history of it, But i'm not in my room near the book right now, so I can't really look. I'm sure someone on here would know!

    Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3


    • #3
      Where ever it came from, it should go back.


      • #4
        From Horsechannel.com...

        Quatermarks - Decorative markings brushed into the horse’s coat--quarter marks--enhance the conformation of a well-muscled hip and croup, and draw attention to the cleanliness and shine of a well-conditioned show horse. Quarter marks not only highlight a horse’s conformation and give correct turnout a finishing touch, they can also reflect personal style and add some fun for special occasions.

        They have some great photos, beyond "the checkerboard"


        • #5
          I don't know where it came from. But all the boys at the farm where I work LOVE to do this when they have a few extra free minutes. It's funny to me, that that's what they spend there time doing - perfecting quarter marks!


          • #6
            If I can find my stencils...

            I may do some on my horses for our schooling show tomorrow. Combined Test, so much more laid back in turnout then a h/j show.

            I'll probably be the only one braided too.


            • #7
              When I was a kid we shaved a heart on the pony several other girls and I showed. We got constant comments about how cute it was
              Pam's Pony Place

              Pam's Pony Ponderings


              • #8
                I love it for the hunter derby. What do you guys think about brushing another tasteful design besides the normal checkers?
                There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the
                inside of a man.

                -Sir Winston Churchill


                • #9
                  I think the hunter derbies are more about returning to the roots of the sport, riding on outside courses with natural jumps, and anything other than good braids, a clean horse and tack may be a bit of a distraction.

                  As someone posted earlier, they were commonly seen in conformation classes to accentuate a horse's build.


                  • #10
                    I love quarter markings because they remind me of another era, back when the classic hunter was outfitted in a full bridle with flat leather, martingales were nowhere to be found (and neither were saddle pads), and riders wore flared canary breeches.

                    On the other hand, they are a PITA because you can't throw a cover over the horse without ruining them, and one errant swipe of a brush at ringside will wipe out half the design.

                    I like the symmetrical designs, like the Union Jack, although these days a straight-out checkerboard would make me wonder if the rider is sponsored by Purina!
                    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.


                    • Original Poster

                      I just wondered if there had ever been a practical reason for them, or if they were purely decorative in origin.

                      Some things started out for a useful reason, like the stock tie and pin to use as a sling, or the braids to keep the mane from getting tangled in branches. Granted we've come a long way from there.

                      Sing Mia Song, I'm right there with you on the Purina sponsorship. I always wonder if the horses are nervous about the implications.


                      • #12
                        Boy, memories from my youth! I used to love when a horse with a great coat was checkered and it did not really show except to flash now and then when the sun slanted just right off the rump. And yes, a barn from my youth shaved a heart into all the body clipped horse's rumps - their trademark. We did checkers for dressage shows - mid 60s.
                        Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design


                        • #13
                          I really like those pictures of the horses with their country's flag brushed in! I think that would be such a good idea for things like the Olympics, WEG, etc.
                          Who needs wings when you've got a jumper?


                          • #14
                            Oh... an idea!

                            Just spent months putting the most beautiful bulbous, lined rippling butt on my horse. I want to dress that up. He's named for an animal (we are taxonomically confused). It would be way cute to make a stencil of the animal for which he is named. Any ideas about how to make one? I know checkerboard and diamond stencils exist. What are they made of?
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat


                            • #15
                              They are traditionally used in show hunter/working hunter classes (UK origin), to demonstrate the quality and health of the horses coat. Quarter marks won't show up well on a rough or unhealthy coat.
                              The practical side is excellent.. by changing the size and positioning of the checkers, you can really enhance and improve the appearance of the horses rump.


                              • #16
                                They are used for open showing in Australia, to highlight a horses conformation and conditon and turnout.

                                It is an art form. I have spent many an hour learning from my old trainer and mother, learning all the different types, sharks tooth around the flank, wide strokes across the rump to make it appear larger, larger more rectangular checkerboard to make a rump appear smaller, diagonal markings getting smaller by the line to make a weak croup appear strong.

                                Works best on a slightly water misted rump, with hair spray sprayed over the rump.

                                To do traditional checkerboard, cut a normal comb into 1 1/5 inch section, then comb down on a slightly damp rump. Don't use a stencil, it looks poor compared to the real thing!


                                • #17
                                  I put them on all my race horses before they go to the paddock. I do diamonds mostly because I like the look better than the traditional "checkerboard."

                                  There are lots of designs though that you'll see. I usually see "V"s on the rump more often than "checkerboard" or diamond quarter marks. I don't often see the shark's teeth, but I've done them on one horse before. I see quarter marks at the races on many of the English trained horses.


                                  • #18
                                    One of my favorites of the ones I've seen was a fleur-de-lis. It just looked nifty.


                                    • #19
                                      And now for some quarter marks we should all be envious of.....




                                      • #20
                                        I have a wonderful British book on presenting horses for the show ring and the author maintains that they are there to emphasize the conformation of the hindquarters. That being said, he also dropped some tricks for subtly manipulating the marks to camouflage flaws or play up strong points on particular horses.
                                        "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive