Horse Training, Horse Care, and Riding Books and Videos from Cherry Hill at
from Cherry Hill


January 2005

Your Horse Barn - DVD
How To Think
Like A Horse
Your Horse Barn DVD
Horsekeeping On A Small Acreage
How to Think Like A Horse by Cherry Hill
Horse For Sale by Cherry Hill

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Conformation Issue

Road to the Horse

This 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.

Happy New Year!

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

Horse for Sale, How to Buy a Horse or Sell the One You Have


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 exceptions.

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 specific function.

To read the rest of this article, go here

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

Conformation Components

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.

The neck 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

Road 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

I 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! !!
Cherry Hill

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