Evaluating Horse Conformation
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Evaluating Horse Conformation

August 20, 2019

Mark: Conformation is a general term that includes mostly structure uh and balance how all the parts of the horse fit together and make 1 whole the overall health of the horse is effected by conformation in the sense that we think that horses that are structurally sound meaning they’re not likely to get Lan or more likely those that have straight legs and have good balance and conformation Heather: We use our horses here on the ranch we use them to gather cattle, we use them for riding lessons, we use them to compete on If the horse is not put together correctly it is likely that the longevity of that animal will be short Nadia: Conformation is important to me probably a little bit different than a halter person or somebody that shows halter would look I mean I still want some of those aspects: straight legs, um and good conformation but I also want good movement, I want a horse to be sound um I want to make sure that they’re going to do the job that we want them to do whether it’s western pleasure or English or if it’s jumping or if it’s contesting I feel like you need a little different ability and I look for something different in each of those horses Heather: If you’re going to purchase a horse it’s going to be an investment whether it be for pleasure or business and nobody wants to lose money and if they don’t If they’re Lan, you can’t use them, and you’re out a vet Nadia: I think over the years, I’ve learned about conformation in different ways I started in 4-H um and I was on a training farm growing up and so um evaluating horses that way but I think I learned a lot um just evaluating horses from other clients and trying to see what they need and then when I’m riding horses and breaking them for people um you see a lot of flaws and things that kind of get in the way of what you’re trying to do um what the program is and so You look at those conformation faults and say oh this is what I definitely don’t want in the next horse I need it to be a better mover or whatever’s gonna fit what it needs to do Mark: Conformation is easy to learn um but you have to be a student of the skeleton and the structural correctness of the horse and then get used to looking at a lot of horses and see how it all fits together it should look like it’s all 1 balanced horse ♪ (music) ♪ Mark: There’s certain correct balance conformation that isn’t related to the breed itself and that usually means that it’s proportional all the parts fit together in what we mean, balance uh the front end should be a little higher or as high as the rear end the legs should be straight and 4 corners under the horse so how the horse fits together is a structural skeletal, muscular issue, not a breed issue Nadia: I feel that the horse should be in balance uh if it’s not you definitely have more weight on the front end or the hind end uh it changes their stride and so yeah I definitely like a balanced horse Mark: Uh in general a horse’s neck should be the same length as its back and its back should be the same length as its hips so you could divide the horse into 3 parts uh horizontally from the profile um so that’s the first thing I think I’d look for then as you look down the legs I think you want to be able to drop a straight line from the middle of the shoulder down a line in the back of the front leg that would bisect the leg and descend right behind the heel uh at the bottom and lengthwise if you go to the back leg uh there should be an angle of a V that comes forward from the pelvis um or the hip joint if you will forward to the stifle and then back again to the hock so there’s good angulation of the stifle joint and it’s not too, what we call, posty and then the canon bone itself should be pretty much in line with the back of the buttocks of the horse so there’s a line from the buttocks to the hock to the back of the fat line in the back and then I always get back away from it again and look at the whole profile and how does this whole horse fit together and the balance of the horse is to me most important and that it looks like whatever breed it’s supposed to be ♪ (music) ♪ The quality of the horse is movement affects the comfort and what the rider feels mostly in in how much concussion is absorbed in the angles of the pastern in the shoulder um it’s much more comfortable ride if the horse is reaching with longer more sweeping strides um rather than shorter choppier strides where the toe hits the ground with a lot more concussion so it’s a more comfortable ride if the horse is structured correctly Heather: Pasterns are important they’re up and down they’re straight up and down the straighter a pastern bone is the more uncomfortable the horse will be that is key Mark: audient movement and how they move is affected by the conformation mostly in the angles of the bones um how the shoulder and the arm are angled allows the horse to have a longer stride in front and the position of the head dictates whether the leg goes higher and lower or if it reaches further forward in longer strides the rear end is where all of the power comes from and the engine so the real power of the horse is determined by the angle of the pelvis, the angle from the pelvis to the stifle so how well the rear end is set underneath the horse really determines the ability to move well uh ♪ (music) ♪ since a horse drives from the rear end I really like a strong hip and I like the hock to drive up underneath them we call it Gareth in the show industry that they’re splitting their hocks where when they drive up under them those 2 hocks are separating really far that’s 1 of things I look for um also a flat knee movement when their leg stretches out inn front of them I want their leg to stay kind of straight, not bending picking up we call that, you know, knee action I don’t want a lot of that Um and I also want a horse that’s got a good structure and not too straight of a shoulder not too much lop but good strong square body Heather: Is she straight legged? Does she have a good deep hock? Does she have a nice rump? Is she pretty headed? Is she smart? Nadia: I think when you’re going to look at a horse to buy you should definitely bring another set of eyes with you um the conformation is a factor but sometimes you fall in love with it Oh it’s cute instead of how’s it put together? and is it going to do the job when I want it too ♪ (music) ♪

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