Road to the Horse
newsletter is a personal letter from me to you, a fellow horse owner and enthusiast.
My goal is to answer some of your questions and send you interesting stories
and helpful tips for your horse care, training, and riding.
I've received so many questions related to
conformation, way of going, lameness, conformation related to training and so
on, that I have decided to start out with an issue packed with information related
to conformation. These articles are excerpts from
for Sale, How to Buy a Horse or Sell the One You
What is conformation?
Conformation should be carefully evaluated whether the horse is a foal, an aged
breeding animal, or a performance horse. Conformation has a strong impact on movement,
performance, and soundness. While movement is most obvious as motion of the lower
limbs, it is an integration of the action of the upper limbs, back, neck, in fact,
the whole horse. Therefore, overall conformation must be considered when discussing
the athletic potential of a horse. Certain conformation tends to lead to certain
types of performance and also to certain unsoundness. However, there are no absolutes
when it comes to predicting a horse's length of stride, degree of flexion or directness
of travel. Generalizations related to stance, breed or type are peppered with
Conformation refers to the physical appearance of a horse as
dictated primarily by his bone and muscle structures and his outline. It is impractical
to set a single standard of perfection or to specifically define ideal or normal
conformation because the guidelines depend on the classification, type, breed,
and intended use of a horse. A conformation evaluation should always relate to
To read the rest of this article, go here http://www.horsekeeping.com/horse_conformation/conformation.htm
Making a Visual Assessment
Develop a specific system for evaluating the horses you are
considering. That way, you will have a better means of comparison. Be aware that
wildly-colored horses and those with dramatic leg markings can cause visual distortions
which could result in inaccurate conclusions. When you examine a horse, be sure
it is standing on level ground with weight on all four feet.
Begin by looking
at a horse from the near side (the horse's left side) in profile and assess overall
balance by comparing the forehand to the hindquarters. When viewing the horse
in profile, pay attention to the curvature and proportions of the topline. Let
your eyes travel from poll to tail and down to the gaskin. Then observe the manner
in which the limbs attach to the body. Evaluate hip and shoulder angles.
Step to the front of the horse and evaluate the limbs and hooves for straightness
and symmetry. Observe the depth and length of the muscles in the forearm and chest.
Evaluate the head, eyes, nostrils, ears, and teeth. Be sure the teeth meet evenly
with no undershot or overshot jaw.
To read the rest of the article go here
Proportions and Curvature of the Topline The ratio
of the topline's components, the curvature of the topline, the strength of loin,
the sharpness of withers, the slope to the croup, and the length of the underline
in relation to the length of back all affect a horse's movement.
is measured from the poll to the highest point of the withers. The back measurement
is taken from the withers to the loin located above the last rib and in front
of the pelvis. The hip length is measured from the loin to the point of buttock.
A neck that is shorter than the back tends to decrease a horse's overall flexibility
and balance. Be sure to look at the neck from both sides because the mane side
often appears shorter than the non-mane side. A back that is a great deal longer
than the neck tends to hollow. A very short hip, in relation to the neck or back,
is associated with lack of propulsion and often a downhill configuration. A rule
of thumb is that the neck should be greater than or equal to the back and that
the hip should be at least two-thirds the length of the back.
To read the
rest of the article go here http://www.horsekeeping.com/horse_conformation/components.htm
to the Horse
If any of you live near Murfreesboro, Tennessee
and want to come by and say hi, I'll be judging the Road to the Horse competition
March 5 and 6, 2005. You can read more about it here
will have a sneak preview copy of my new book there with me too!
That's it for this month.
My best wishes to
you, your families and your horses for a wonderful new year! !!