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US Olympic Trials: less than perfect conformation doesn't matter at the top

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  • US Olympic Trials: less than perfect conformation doesn't matter at the top

    Especially front legs. Of course, no one is perfect. Interesting to see the various front leg conformation of horses vying for The US Olympic Team. Offset/bench cannons, toeing in, twist in lower leg. Hooves slightly rolling to the outside. Some short legs, too. Gaits were not all pure.

    The hind legs all seemed pretty correct.


    Just goes to prove that while breeders strive for correct conformation, in the end it won't necessarily stop your horse from making it to the top. (Or, it could, if the conformational challenges prevent the horse from maintaining soundness). (Or, if you don't have all the $$$ backing you to maintain soundness).

  • #2
    I've noticed a lot of upper level horses that look like egg beaters coming down center line. As long as you have a good farrier who can correctly balance the front hooves you should be ok in terms of longevity. Correct trims for the less than ideal conformation is very very important.
    Fresh, Frozen & ISO Warmblood Breedings FB Group

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by back in the saddle View Post
      I've noticed a lot of upper level horses that look like egg beaters coming down center line. As long as you have a good farrier who can correctly balance the front hooves you should be ok in terms of longevity. Correct trims for the less than ideal conformation is very very important.


      Absolutely! I did see one horse high on the inside and rolling to the outside on a front leg ......

      Comment


      • #4
        Well, pretty is as pretty does.

        Comment


        • #5
          Dutch Lovin

          That is an interesting observation. It coincides with what I experienced at the Keeneland and Fasig Tipton November breeding sales . I would look at mares that had won over $200,000 and Had been a stayer , for clients in search of broodmares. I found the same was true.....bowlegged, offset, toe in/out , knock knee ((less of those)....all seemed to stand the test. Short cannons and low set hocks seemed to enable a horse to live with many angular leg deformities that would have spun the same horse in the yearling sales!! Cecil Seaman, who measured all the champions over the years, contended that balance was everything, and he could calibrate that with his measurements.

          I have bought many a "crooked" horse based on this experience, and had consistantly positive results .
          "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt

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          • #6
            Except that nowadays, so many crooked young horses are surgically straightened for the sales because the bidders want straight, even if straight has little to do with performance.
            "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
            Thread killer Extraordinaire

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            • #7
              What about breeding for movement vs breeding for conformation? It's best to have it all, but conformation that might not win at halter does not always equal a lack in movement ability, as is evidenced by the horses at Gladstone now.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                Except that nowadays, so many crooked young horses are surgically straightened for the sales because the bidders want straight, even if straight has little to do with performance.
                ???? really ???? I did not know this was possible. I have heard of check ligament surgery but that's it.
                Fresh, Frozen & ISO Warmblood Breedings FB Group

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                • #9
                  Corrective surgery does help, and I am all for it if it gives a youngster an opportunity to live a sound, safer life. Some of the crooked legs can be a result of placement in the uterus or nutrition, etc. Not always a genetic flaw. There is a narrow window of opportunity to correct this during the foals first few weeks oro month of life. I've watched it done and it is a fairly simple, bloodless surgery that I think is very useful in racing or sport. Knowing a bit about the pedigree would help the buyer assess soundness issues as well. JMHO
                  PennyG

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                  • #10
                    When I was up at Hagyard a few years ago during mid summer, they told me their barns get pretty full early in the year with TB foals in there getting their legs straightened.

                    As for conformation affecting top performance - don't forget the stallion Quando-Quando has a VERY crooked front leg - toes out quite dramatically on the RF. He went to the Beijing Olympics for Australia.
                    Last edited by DownYonder; Jun. 10, 2012, 10:41 AM. Reason: fixed a typo!

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                    • #11
                      I have been saying this for ages. As breeders, I think we get obsessed with perfect legs and feet because a horse with an incorrect foundation will get NAILED at a breed inspection or sporthorse breeding show. I think in reality, a slight toeing in or a slightly upright foot isn't going in much of a difference in the performance world ( I am speaking of dressage only. I don't know anything about jumpers, so I won't comment about that discipline). I've never seen a dressage judge comment on paddling or winging.
                      Now do I think we should be breeding every crooked legged club footed mare? Absolutely not. But if I have a mare that is an attractive type and elastic, uphill mover and is doing well in the performance ring, I'm not going to pass up on breeding her just because she toes in or some other minor deviation. Not to mention, there are studies showing that correctness of the limbs is one of the least heritable traits.
                      www.saraalberni.com

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                      • #12
                        As a breeder you must always demand correctness for your breeding stock. Otherwise you will allow for more and more incorrectness overtime. The not so perfect go into sport.

                        That being said, properly conformed toplines and rear ends allow less then perfect front legs to be insignificant. They are so light on their front ends that the imperfection doesn't receive that much impact. Now take the same front legs on a horse that is heavy up there, and you will see a problem.

                        Tim
                        Sparling Rock Holsteiners
                        www.sparlingrock.com

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RyTimMick View Post
                          That being said, properly conformed toplines and rear ends allow less then perfect front legs to be insignificant. They are so light on their front ends that the imperfection doesn't receive that much impact. Now take the same front legs on a horse that is heavy up there, and you will see a problem.

                          Tim
                          THIS exactly. You can't judge legs without judging the horse as a whole.

                          As far as I recall; everything is connected in a horse.
                          www.EquusMagnificus.ca
                          Breeding & Sales
                          Facebook | YouTube

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                          • #14
                            Although I like a horse to have good conformation I think we also have to bear in mind the parts of the horses conformation that we cannot see but that will make or break the soundness of that horse over their lifetime.

                            If I had the choice between breeding from a "committee horse" that had competed to GP level and stayed sound, complete with bench knees and toed out or a picture perfect mare who had gone lame before her 8th birthday after doing very little work it's a no-contest decision.

                            IMO far too many lame mares are bred from and lame stallions. The only time I make allowances for lameness in breeding stock is if they had a catastrophic injury that would have ripped steel hawsers apart. Early onset suspensory desmitis = unsuitable to breed from from my point of view.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by EquusMagnificus View Post
                              THIS exactly. You can't judge legs without judging the horse as a whole.

                              As far as I recall; everything is connected in a horse.
                              This is an interesting observation, since it's always hard to decide when buying a younger horse what you will overlook, and what is a no-go problem. I overlooked my pony's high-low feet because many times it's not an issue, but what I did not do was evaluate her shoulders and back. Turned out the asymmetrical feet corresponded to really asymmetrical shoulders that really impacted her ability to do dressage and caused unevenness in some movements. That said, it has zero impact on her ability to jump.

                              It was a great learning experience. Evaluating young horses for specific sport is quite the science.
                              On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by back in the saddle View Post
                                ???? really ???? I did not know this was possible. I have heard of check ligament surgery but that's it.
                                its common in the race TBs going to yearling sales...I have not seen it so much in the sporthorses.
                                Providence Farm
                                http://providencefarmpintos.blogspot.com/

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                                • #17
                                  They are so light on their front ends that the imperfection doesn't receive that much impact. Now take the same front legs on a horse that is heavy up there, and you will see a problem
                                  I agree that the conformation is an estimate of a structure that will be sound. There can be different structures that will hold up to force. But how can a UL jumper (or eventer) not be thought to receive that much impact?
                                  . Rough calculation it is 76000 Newtons (N) for a 1400 pd unit (horse and rider) over a 1.6m fence (and this is not including forward motion), and this is all on two front feet. For reference, a 154 pound person stands with 686 N. So for the equivalent force you would have to put the weight of 111 people on the two front feet (only) of a standing horse to equal the weight a horse bears when it lands a jump.
                                  I would like to find a better estimation done by someone. I found one but only for a four foot jump and not sure about the weight, works out to 58 people @ 154 pds

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Just an aside -

                                    Most of us can get by with a horse that is flawed in conformation, has some hock changes, and moves like a western pleasure horse, but will not throw us, bite us, or trample us and is fun to ride. I feel terrible when someone who will never get to first level turns down a wonderful horse that they can actually afford and can ride because of one of the above issues.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Perfect Pony View Post
                                      This is an interesting observation, since it's always hard to decide when buying a younger horse what you will overlook, and what is a no-go problem. I overlooked my pony's high-low feet because many times it's not an issue, but what I did not do was evaluate her shoulders and back. Turned out the asymmetrical feet corresponded to really asymmetrical shoulders that really impacted her ability to do dressage and caused unevenness in some movements. That said, it has zero impact on her ability to jump.

                                      It was a great learning experience. Evaluating young horses for specific sport is quite the science.
                                      Yes!

                                      Well those front legs are all one apparatus, one system, it is connected to the shoulder, who in turn, is to the neck. It is also connected to the barrel and the back of horse... The back and barrel reach the croup... and the hinds legs, and we start over again. No part of a horse works on its on; it's always a whole system!

                                      This is why those top level horses can afford some crookedness in the legs; the rest of their system can compensate or is built in a way that reduces the impact on soundness of those imperfections.
                                      www.EquusMagnificus.ca
                                      Breeding & Sales
                                      Facebook | YouTube

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                                      • #20
                                        I am sure the goal of their breeders was staight legs... The goal should always be straight legs but obviously the horses born with them and fabulous movement shouldnt be overlooked
                                        ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                                        http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

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