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Can somebody explain the effects of back conformation to me?

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  • Can somebody explain the effects of back conformation to me?

    I have been offered a 7 year old APHA gelding for free. Dead broke to ride, has had extensive western pleasure and showmanship training done, but owner says he is more of an english horse. She has jumped him before and said that he showed interest. She is moving out of state and wants to see him in a good home. No strings attached, said that if it didn't work out I could resell him if I so desired. Only issue is that he doesn't like to load in the trailer. I am going to see him Tuesday.

    The only picture I have of him makes his back look a little funky and I was wonder what other's opinions of it were.

    gelding


    This mare is on my local CL for cheap. 15 years old registered quarter horse, extensively shown in everything 4H has to offer. Also says that she is a good trail horse. Is she considered built downhill?

    mare
    Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
    The Blog

  • #2
    I would have a PPE done on the gelding first. Sounds/looks like a nice young horse who still has a lot to give you. Pictures can be tricky.

    From the pictures, I prefer the gelding comformation to the mare who look more downhill with a long back, standing with her hind legs a bit too far out.
    The gelding, despite the wonky back that could be an opt. illusion or fat deposit?!, is overall better built.

    The fact that the mare is 15 means that you might have to start with some maintenance treatment sooner but if it doesn't work with the gelding, of course she could be a good option. Have her checked by a vet as well.
    ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

    Originally posted by LauraKY
    I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
    HORSING mobile training app

    Comment


    • #3
      After dealing with a horse with a similar if not worse back conformation, my advice would depend on your goals with the horse. If you want something to use as a pleasure horse with no performance goals in mind, then it should be fine, but if you want to have a horse that can really work then don't do it.

      Both those horses show weak backs. Back conformation affects the biomechanics. A horse with a dipped back will find it harder to really flex over their back, and the high croup will also make it hard for them to sit back on their haunches. Think of the back as a bridge between the forehand and hindquarters, a horse with a dipped back like that is naturally weaker. With flexion/extension harder and potentially limited, the horse will compensate by either increasing lateral bend (perhaps leaning to crookedness) or axial rotation. In order for you to get these horses to really work over their backs you will need to look at how they move and potentially compensate for their weakness and tailor your training to support that. Can't 100% tell with the gelding as the background makes it hard to see but it kind of looks like he has a slight roach in the lumbar area, meaning an area of very limited flexibility within the spine.

      For what it's worth, my experience has been that these types may surprise you and turn out to be real athletes despite it but you must take into account that as a resell project it may not be the easiest sell in the long term and there might be maintenance issues associated with conformational weakness.

      Comment


      • #4
        I would not go from one picture only, it could be a wrong moment in time.

        I agree with what those pictures show, I would try to find a bit more balanced looking horse, but then, if they were not that good, they would not have done what they have already done and done relatively well, so ... maybe those are not really good pictures?

        A young horse will take pictures than a horse twice it's age won't, take that into consideration also.
        Think what that young horse may look at the age of that older one?
        Will that back weakness become more pronounced by then and become a problem?

        The mare seems to be a classier, better bred horse.
        She has a very nice shoulder, but her back is way long and she seems to be back at the knees, unless those are the picture tricking the eye, not how she is really in person.
        The gelding seems more plain standing there, but again, just one picture and from a less than flattering angle.
        Then, some horses take pictures better than they look in person, others are wonderful horses that break cameras, look like a committee horse made of parts that don't fit.

        Go ride both, see which one fits what you like best, get a vet to check them well, ask many times if they have been injected, that is almost standard today and can hide so much for a bit and then you may have a horse with problems later.

        If you don't have to pay much for one, you can take more chances than if you have to pay so much you can't get that back if the horse doesn't fit at all and you have to resell.

        Too much involved there to give a simple answer from a short post and two pictures.
        Not only that, there is no perfect horse, anyone you look over you can take apart and find something, somewhere you may wish was different, that is why we have to look at the whole, conformation standing there, how that affects movement, personality, age, intended purpose, all.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Well either horse would my goals would be all around riding, be able to trail ride during the week and show on the weekends. I am not looking for something to take to the world show, just show at the local saddle clubs. I would like something that I could explore jumping with though.
          Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
          The Blog

          Comment


          • #6
            I just went and read what you wrote on your blog about what you want...I think the gelding kinda fits the bill, but that's just my opinion. I think you really just have to meet him and see "who" he is..He's young enough, more English in type, has "color"..and I think his back looks perfectly servicable for your purposes. He may just turn out to be a true gem...he may need you as much as you need him.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by fairtheewell View Post
              I just went and read what you wrote on your blog about what you want...I think the gelding kinda fits the bill, but that's just my opinion. I think you really just have to meet him and see "who" he is..He's young enough, more English in type, has "color"..and I think his back looks perfectly servicable for your purposes. He may just turn out to be a true gem...he may need you as much as you need him.
              He really does check off a lot of the things I want. I wasn't originally going to go see him, but the price is certainly right!
              Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
              The Blog

              Comment


              • #8
                You have ouch and double ouch. Long back, downhill, posty...

                If you want to do light trail riding either will work, go for the best personality and mind. Neither of them are going to be able to hold up for a lot of hard work.

                Saddle fit is going to be a nightmare.. hocks will come into play, collection or working off the front is going to be hard for them which will be tough for them to build up their back and ring of muscle, which they will need desperately.... who knows about the front foot conformation given the pictures. I'd have a farrier look...

                And I have one that looks like these now, at 15... and he struggles. When I bought my next riding horse I got a thrifty short-coupled short backed TWH.

                If you aren't going to use them hard try either one and go for personality but they aren't athletes.

                Poor things, they're pretty at first glance but they will need upkeep.
                “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
                  You have ouch and double ouch. Long back, downhill, posty...

                  If you want to do light trail riding either will work, go for the best personality and mind. Neither of them are going to be able to hold up for a lot of hard work.
                  :
                  Saddle fit is going to be a nightmare.. hocks will come into play, collection or working off the front is going to be hard for them which will be tough for them to build up their back and ring of muscle, which they will need desperately.... who knows about the front foot conformation given the pictures. I'd have a farrier look...

                  And I have one that looks like these now, at 15... and he struggles. When I bought my next riding horse I got a thrifty short-coupled short backed TWH.

                  If you aren't going to use them hard try either one and go for personality but they aren't athletes.

                  Poor things, they're pretty at first glance but they will need upkeep.
                  what she said. I would skip both. The back is a suspension bridge and must be well anchored on both ends.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree the mare would be hard to fit a saddle--high withers, bulky shoulder, and her back is exceptionally long. Honestly, I'd pass on the mare --I don't see much promise for even low-level jumping, with that long back combined with a heavy shoulder and short neck. If you go try her out, have a few trot poles placed in the arena and see how she feels over those.

                    The gelding's back is a tad long, yes, but I totally think that with hills and lateral work that you could improve his topline quite a lot. My long-backed mare looked far worse than that when I got her, and within 6mos she was a completely different horse. But, as much as he looks and sounds like a sweetie, the very upright shoulder/pastern gives me pause, and I would want to know whether he has navicular changes? The "free" pricetag makes me wonder about this. Just because he's free don't hesitate to ask if she has recent xrays and if not, get some taken.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by cowboymom View Post
                      You have ouch and double ouch. Long back, downhill, posty...

                      If you want to do light trail riding either will work, go for the best personality and mind. Neither of them are going to be able to hold up for a lot of hard work.

                      Saddle fit is going to be a nightmare.. hocks will come into play, collection or working off the front is going to be hard for them which will be tough for them to build up their back and ring of muscle, which they will need desperately.... who knows about the front foot conformation given the pictures. I'd have a farrier look...

                      And I have one that looks like these now, at 15... and he struggles. When I bought my next riding horse I got a thrifty short-coupled short backed TWH.

                      If you aren't going to use them hard try either one and go for personality but they aren't athletes.

                      Poor things, they're pretty at first glance but they will need upkeep.
                      Yep. My first thought at seeing them was saddle horse for trail riding mainly. However, I will say, I've had horses built all wrong for a job do a magnificent job and hold up well. But, they may be few and far between as I did a lot of buying and selling and the odds were I would find such a gem anyway. The basic would be a nice saddle horse at the very least.
                      GR24's Musing #19 - Save the tatas!!

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        I did wrangle in a knowledgable friend to come with me tomorrow morning. I am hoping that maybe he looks better in person. The owner is giving him away because she was given very short notice that her job was moving out of state from what I understand, and I think it is as simple as that. When we spoke she sounded like she was just desperate to find him a good home and fast.
                        Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
                        The Blog

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Both are long backed and downhill. The gelding looks back at the knees. With the sunshine on his feet, I can't tell how his foot angles might be affecting the knees.

                          My own gelding was slightly back at the knees, but when I got him his toes were quite long and his heels low. once the feet were wet right, his knees were OK.

                          Some long-backed horses can make athletic jumpers -- but there's something about this gelding that makes me think he may not be safe to jump. If he shows any tendency to "dive" over jumps, don't jump him. Divers are dangerous.

                          He looks fine for trails and light low-level showing. Agree on a PPE -- a "free" horse can end up being very expensive!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Both pictures look like they are at funky camera angles. Kinda hard to judge a horse from one wonky photo. Yep, both look like they have pretty long backs but other than that I wouldn't rush to any judgements until you can check them out in person to see what the pictures aren't showing you.

                            Camera angles can do strange things to a horse's conformation. I'd never trust a judgment made from just one oddly-angled picture unless the flaw was glaringly obvious and 100% undeniable.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by GaitedGloryRider View Post
                              Both pictures look like they are at funky camera angles. Kinda hard to judge a horse from one wonky photo. Yep, both look like they have pretty long backs but other than that I wouldn't rush to any judgements until you can check them out in person to see what the pictures aren't showing you.

                              Camera angles can do strange things to a horse's conformation. I'd never trust a judgment made from just one oddly-angled picture unless the flaw was glaringly obvious and 100% undeniable.
                              Even without the funky angles, pictures can be very deceiving.
                              I have looked at more horses that don't look like their pictures in their ads than those that do look like the right horse.

                              One reason, unless you take pictures from far away with a zoom, the pure mass of a horse tends to distort proportions close up.
                              Add light tricks and you really don't know what you have there.
                              Once we know a horse well, our eye and brain compensates for that and "cleans" the picture for us, so we "see" what we know is there as much as what the picture shows.

                              Also, you have to see the horse move, just standing there it may look one way, when it moves it may look completely different again.
                              Videos today help so much, at least you get more than one look at the horse, standing and moving, close and further and from different angles.

                              As for why the horse is being given away, every horse has a story.
                              You have to take them with a grain of salt, as there generally is more than what is being told, although not necessarily anything bad may not be mentioned.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Good luck tomorrow. Try to take a video!

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Well my friend ended up not being able to go with me, and I wish she could have. I am not sure what to think. He is a really nice horse, the owner was the assistant to one of the most respected stock horse trainers in the area, something that I didn't relise. His training is super solid, he has three nice gaits that he picks up without fuss. He is a solid showmanship horse as well. I would consider him beginner/kid safe.

                                  A couple of things, he's 13, not 7 like I was orginally told. I don't remember who told me that, the owner or my friend that was trying to hook me up with him. He is also on the short side. He is around 14.2 or 14.3. I am no small girl at 5'7''. He is stocky though, and my legs weren't below his belly, thankfully.

                                  As for his back, it wasn't nearly as bad in person as it is in the picture, it is still funky though. I couldn't decide if it was just that he has big withers, is a little butt high, or if it was a combination of both. He does need muscle along his top line, that is for sure. He also needs to gain about 50-100 pounds.
                                  Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
                                  The Blog

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    If he is 13, that explains his back a bit better and so does some other.
                                    He just didn't look like a young horse just maturing into his own.

                                    He does has a very straight looking shoulder in that picture, but many such horses do and the long back compensates for it as not to make them as rough as that would bring.

                                    No one can tell you what to do there.
                                    If you really like the horse, why not?
                                    If you don't quite like him, well ...

                                    A really sweetheart of a horse tends to sell itself, many ignore other they don't like to get that personality in their personal, not project horses to train/re-train and sell.
                                    A well trained horse is also a plus.

                                    Very gentle, supposedly well trained and free? Maybe worth a second try?
                                    When we hear of such a horse, around here, we tend to quickly pass the word around and someone, somewhere can make it work for them or their family/friend/client.

                                    Much to think about there, is it.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Reviving this thread because I ended up bring this horse home. Here is
                                      a better shot of him:

                                      Cody

                                      So far he is an interesting horse. Very sensitive and a little on the
                                      hot side. Has more buttons than I think I will ever use. He is
                                      probably the best trained horse I have ever ridden. Right now I am
                                      mostly working him on the ground as he needs to gain some weight.
                                      Maggie Bright, lovingly known as Skye and deeply missed (1994 - 2013)
                                      The Blog

                                      Comment

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