for Sale, How to Buy a Horse or Sell the One You Have
by Cherry Hill © 1995
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 specific function.
When discrepancies are discovered, it is important to differentiate between blemishes
and unsoundnesses. Blemishes are scars and irregularities that do not affect
the serviceability of the horse. Unsoundness cause a horse to be lame or
otherwise unserviceable. Unsoundnesses include lameness caused from such conditions
as navicular syndrome, wounds, ringbone, sidebone, spavin, thoroughpin, curb,
and bowed tendons as well as miscellaneous conditions such as broken wind, blindness,
and retained testicles.
Horses are classified
as draft (heavy) horses, light horses, or ponies. Classifications are further
divided by type according to overall body style and conformation and the
work for which best suited. Refer to the chart in Chapter 2.
A breed is a group of horses with common ancestry and usually strong conformational
similarities. In most cases, a horse must come from approved breeding stock to
be registered with a particular breed. If a horse is not eligible for registration,
it is considered a grade or crossbred horse.
Several breeds can have similar makeup and be of the same type. For example, most
Quarter Horses, Paint Horses and Appaloosas are considered stock horse types.
Some breeds contain individuals of different types within the breed. American
Thoroughbreds can be of the race, hunter, or sport horse type.
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