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Just a reminder

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  • Just a reminder

    I think people are becoming too obsessed with conformation.

    For example, Horse A

    Long in the back, and not as round of a hip as you would like, and maybe not perfect conformation of the leg. Nothing too extreme. Still a pretty horse to look at overall.
    Beautiful mover.
    Beautiful style over fences.
    Anyone can ride.

    Horse B.
    Beautiful conformation.
    Not as nice as horse A in other respects.

    Client buys Horse B because of conformation and then wonders why Horse A beats them in the show ring almost every time. You tried talking client into Horse A, but they wouldn't have it.

    Bottom line, performance, manners, consistency, style, and movement beat out conformation in the Children's, A/A, Pre-Child, and similar classes every time. I think people too often forget that, and I just wanted to get it out there because I have come across people that are way too big on conformation lately.

  • #2
    I have been thinking about this lately too.

    I have been paying close attention to the conformation clinic in each month's Practical Horseman issue and 90% of the time I can choose the correct order of the horses. However, it bothers me that when you read the description of the 3rd place horse it usually says that due to (insert conformation flaw here) the horse may not hold up to increased work. Usually these horses aren't conformational trainwrecks either.

    I would love it if they could come out with a 3rd page for the conformation clinic. The 3rd page would state what level each horse was performing at and HOPEFULLY the horse with the least desirable conformation would not be in dead last. Or perhaps the horse with the least desirable conformation would also be the one with no soundness issues. Horses would obviously have to be of similar age and training level.

    Not sure if this is feasible, but I know of so many people with horses w/ textbook conformation that are having a multitude of soundness issues. Whereas, the more homely looking horses are the ones out there day after day jumping courses without so much as a sore back. I'm not saying there is a correlation, I am just saying that I think sometimes people get too hung up on conformation and do not look at the whole package.


    • #3
      Sometimes a horse performs brilliantly BECAUSE of conformation, sometimes a horse performs brilliantly DESPITE conformation.

      I guess I just can't get too worked up over either. I've seen plenty of horses break down in completely predictable ways because of major conformation flaws. I've also had several horses that look like they were built by Picasso who outperformed their perfectly-conformed counterparts. To me it's more about understanding how the conformational flaws can HELP athleticism vs impeding it. Some trainers are better at verbalizing (and understanding) this than others. Of course I've seen even more horses taken out of commission by poor shoeing in addition to or despite conformation, so there is the fact that taking "perfect resources" out of the picture can make conformational flaws even more unacceptable.

      I think you could take FOREVER to buy a horse if you're looking for one with that "special something" in addition to perfect conformation, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that attitude per se. I've been pointed towards horses with glaring issues by very competent trainers in the past, so I can understand not totally trusting someone when they point me at a less-than-perfect horse. But to your point about frustration....I would never complain to that person when the horse they wanted to buy beat me every time out! How obnoxious!

      As with everything in the horse world, there is no black and white answer. Conformation counts for something, but it certainly can be overcome by attitude and performance.
      Flying F Sport Horses
      Horses in the NW


      • #4
        Ive been explaining to a lot of people lately that these days at the lower level divisions and shows, 8 or 10 perfect spots, lead changes and otherwise unremarkable rounds are going to beat the inconsistent beauty every time. I hate that people will fork over huge wads of cash for unproven or inconsistent horses based on the beauty factor, and refuse to pay for the solid guy who looks plain or ordinary.


        • #5
          Originally posted by NorthFaceFarm View Post
          Ive been explaining to a lot of people lately that these days at the lower level divisions and shows, 8 or 10 perfect spots, lead changes and otherwise unremarkable rounds are going to beat the inconsistent beauty every time. I hate that people will fork over huge wads of cash for unproven or inconsistent horses based on the beauty factor, and refuse to pay for the solid guy who looks plain or ordinary.
          This is basically what I was trying to hint at and you put it much more succinctly. Thank you!

          My above idea regarding the conformation clinic is really to just highlight the above point. That although one horse may seem like the right choice based on conformation and looks alone, do not totally discount the more humble looking horse if he has all the goods, but not textbook confo.....