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Croup Conformation Questions

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  • Croup Conformation Questions

    I had posted a question regarding Croup conformation in a thread I have about Arabian stallions, however I decided to open a new thread to get input from other experienced breeders. In my quest for a stallion, I am coming across all sorts of croup shapes. I went out and looked at my horses and realized mine come in vastly different shapes. I thought I knew what the ideal croup is and the kind of movement it would create, but now I am confused.

    I am seeing short and long croups. To me a long croup is one that starts above or just behind the hip. I see croups that range from flat, to slightly sloped, to very sloped ala QH. Another consideration is the croup shape in relation to the angle and distance from the hip to the point of buttock.

    The questions are:
    1. What is the ideal croup and hind end angles for an upper level jumper and why?
    2. What is the ideal croup and hind end angles for an upper level hunter and why?
    3. What is the ideal croup and hind end angles for upper level dressage and why?

    For reference I uploaded a pic of horses I own or have owned in side shots. Feel free to reference these good or bad when describing the ideal.


    Reading from left to right, these are how these individuals move and perform:
    1. 15.3 mare, huge stride, extremely athletic, correct jump and scopey, hunter mover, bascule when jumping, floaty trot, excellent natural self-carriage
    2. 16.3 gelding, good canter, extremely athletic, bascule when jumping, floaty trot, very successful into level 4 jumpers, schooled solidly level 5 and 6, was taught self-carriage, unfortunately passed away just prior to competing in those levels
    3. 17.2 gelding, canters 3'6" jumps shown successfully through level 3 jumpers, free jumped 5' oxers, gigantic stride, flat jump, big trot with some action, needs rider's support for carriage
    4. 16.2 gelding, was a good lower level horse, a little short strided, average mover and jumper, daisy cutter trot, decent self-carriage
    5. 15.1 gelding, shown successfully through level 2 jumpers with more scope, bascule when jumping, big stride even though he is a small horse, a bit of a choppy trot, was taught self-carriage
    6. 15.3 mare, childrens hunter type, average jump and movement, had to be taught self-carriage
    7. 16.1 mare, shown successfully through level 2 jumpers, free jumped 4' oxers with excellent bascule and tight knees, a bit short strided in the canter (though that may have been due to her time at the track) and some action at the trot, decent self-carriage
    8. 15.2 mare, injured hind fetlocks at two, nevertheless nice sweepy trot and ground covering canter, decent natural self-carriage

  • #2
    Just to start a discussion I'll start with a basic guideline I look at when judging a horse for any discipline. I like the angle of the hip from point of hip to point of buttock to stifle to be an equilateral triangle. I've been taught and it has proved out that if a horse is short from point of hip to stifle it will have trouble climbing hills versus a horse that is not. I have also been taught that if a horse is short from stifle to point of buttock it will have a less than desirable length of stride and not track up under itself like a horse that is not shorter there. The thought is if the horse is short from point of hip to buttock it probably doesn't have the motor and is out of balance with the rest of its parts. A couple of the horses you show are straight in the hock which predisposes the horse to soft pasterns. I am not a jumping expert but this seems to be an attribute that may cause a horse to break down so you probably want good angulation from point of hip to point of buttock to the stifle to the hock with the cannon plumb when a line is drawn from the buttock down to the back of the cannon. No straight hocks or stifles. I've been told the ideal angle for the ilium which is the bone that runs from the point of the hip to the point of the buttock should be 30 degrees +/- a few degrees. I think if you look at horses that you are capable jumpers and show athletic prowess in other venues that angle will hold up.

    I hope this starts some useful discussion for you.



    • Original Poster

      That is interesting Peter, you just cleared up why horse 4 and 7 tended to be short strided. I never could figure it out. I always thought they had nice hind ends, because they had a long distance from hip to buttock and longer croups. Both those horses have a far longer line from hip to buttock, than from buttock to stifle. And, the line from hip to stifle is angled the most on those two. The powerful jumpers and the ones with the big strides in those photos all have equilateral triangles and the line from hip to stifle is close to vertical. Very cool, with that knowledge I feel a lot more confident in critiquing rear ends. I added lines to my pic:



      • #4
        There are multiple angles that come into play in the hindquarter. Regarding the croup itself, you want the "point" of the croup (top) to be as close to directly between the two hip bones as possible. If this point is behind the hip bones, it lengthens the loin (area of spine unsupported by solid ribs) which weakens the back and the hindquarters' ability to collect underneath the horse, as they do when a horse "sits" before going over a jump. If the point of the croup is too far forward, the back is short and tight and saddle fitting can be an issue.

        Agree with Peter's comment about equilateral triangle and 30 degrees. You can easily see if the horse's angles meet this standard because when this is true a vertical line drawn from the hip bone straight down will hit the stifle, and a sideways "T" intersected halfway along this line will hit the point of the buttock. Hard to explain, but very easy to show someone in person.

        Also, the next part of this is that when the horse is standing with the stifle directly below the hip bone, the hock should be directly below the point of the buttock (POB), and a plumb line dropped from the POB will go right down through the vertical leg. So when the rear cannon is vertical, the hindleg should be directly below the POB.

        Here is a link to another discussion on this. If you go to the diagrams in the first post, at the bottom section look at item "A" showing the bone structure of the hindquarter. That is a pretty good approximation of the overall angulation I am describing. http://www.horsegroomingsupplies.com...es-122786.html


        • #5
          I don't have time to post in detail at the moment, but there are some very good articles that discuss hind end construction and the variations that tend to be advantageous or disadvantageous for various sport disciplines here: Functional Conformation (scroll down for links to articles)
          Dawn Jones-Low
          Faerie Court Farm Arabian Sport Horses


          • #6
            Originally posted by Spectrum View Post
            There are multiple angles that come into play in the hindquarter. Regarding the croup itself, you want the "point" of the croup (top) to be as close to directly between the two hip bones as possible. If this point is behind the hip bones, it lengthens the loin (area of spine unsupported by solid ribs) which weakens the back and the hindquarters' ability to collect underneath the horse, as they do when a horse "sits" before going over a jump. If the point of the croup is too far forward, the back is short and tight and saddle fitting can be an issue.

            We would call this the lumbar sacral joint of L/S joint. If you run your finger down the spine from front to back the L/S joint will be a small hole or indentation in the spine. This joint should be within one inch of the point of the hip which is what is talked about above. Remember the hip runs from one side of the horse to the other. When we talk about length of hip we really are misusing the term as it is length of hindquarter (point of hip to buttock) as the hip bones are shown as the point of the hip on either side of the horse. The L/S joint has to do with weight baring as much as any other function. The further away or back from the point of hip or hip bones the longer and weaker the loin. A longer loin may also hinder the horse from tracking up under itself.

            Hope that is clear.



            • #7
              The lines you drew on your pics are somewhat misleading as the horses aren't standing square. Some of the vertical lines are also in the wrong position, but that is probably because the horses aren't standing square and you placed them arbitrarily. It will be much easier to evaluate them if you stand them up square first.
              Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
              Now apparently completely invisible!


              • Original Poster

                Dawn, thanks for the link, that was extremely helpful in understanding the mechanics of the skeleton as related to the various disciplines. I went out and looked at my horses in person and each one that has a movement quirk also has the correlating skeletal structure to cause it.

                Those side shots just happen to be the shots I had of those horses. I don't have a few of those horses anymore. I added in the front lines and vertical lines knowing some weren't set up for it. Although, the lines did correlate with the way each one folds their front legs over a jump as described by the author in the above link. Initially I was just interested in the intricacies of croup conformation, but the link Dawn provided gave me a lot more to think about.


                • #9
                  You are welcome. :-)
                  Dawn Jones-Low
                  Faerie Court Farm Arabian Sport Horses


                  • #10
                    I just don't understand that JW equine. She stands the horses in different stances and then compares angles? For example if you stand a horse so the hind leg is back the stifle is going to look "lower" and if the horse is standing under more he will look more closed behind. This goes for most of the angles she compares.

                    "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.


                    • #11
                      Hmm...I've never had that problem with her stuff. Had her do an evaluation from photos that were not perfectly posed and she explained the adjustments for the stances and nailed the horse's issues from the pics.