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CONFORMATION

Learning to evaluate a horse


Conformation

 definedas the physical appearance of the


horse due to the arrangement of muscle,
bone and other body tissues.
CONFORMATION IS IMPORTANT
CONFORMATION
 Important to all horse enthusiasts
 Important to all equine disciplines
 A basic skill that all Morrisville students
need to possess
 The basis for understanding how a horse
functions
 A major determining factor in predicting the
usefulness and longevity of a horse
A horse is only useful if he is
functional and sound
 Racing
Morrisville students are
involved in a diversity of  Driving
equine disciplines  Jumping
 Hunter on the flat
 Western pleasure
 Reining
 Trail riding
By understanding the basic
concepts of conformation, it is
possible to predict a horse’s
usefulness and longevity
Students need to develop an
understanding of conformation
so they can make informed
decisions for themselves, their
employers, or their clients.
A halter class is defined as a competition
where a horse is judged based upon its
conformation
 The purpose of a halter class is to preserve
the integrity of the breed by selecting
individuals in the order of their resemblance
to the breed ideal
 and that are the most positive combination
of balance, structural correctness, breed and
sex character, muscling and way of going.
The Ideal Quarter Horse
The breed standard
 Attractive head
 Refined throatlatch
 Well-proportioned, trim neck
 Long sloping shoulder
 Deep heart girth
 Short back
 Strong loin and coupling
 Balanced athlete that is muscled
uniformly throughout
 Straight and structurally correct
legs and feet that are free of
defects
Criteria for evaluating
Conformation:
 Balance

 Structural correctness

 Breed and sex character

 Degree of muscling

 Travel/way of going
Balance
 Balance is the underlying structure made up of
angles and proportions (lengths) that make up the
skeletal structure of the horse
 Balance is the most important criteria in
evaluating conformation
 Balance is influenced almost entirely by skeletal
structure
 You can develop your eye to look for indicators of
balance and proportion
Learning to Evaluate Balance
 It is important to visualize the skeleton of
the horse underneath its muscles and other
tissues
 There are several reference points that you
can use to evaluate balance
The Ideal Quarter Horse
Point of Withers

Above Point of Hip

Point of Shoulder
Point of Buttocks

TRAPEZOID – 3 EQUAL PARTS


There are optimal skeletal angles and proportions

90
degrees
An optimal shoulder angle gives optimal reach and length of stride
Slope of Shoulder

 Nothing is more critical to balance than the


slope of the shoulder
 When the slope of the shoulder is steep, the
ratio of the top to bottom line of the neck
changes
The Ideal Quarter Horse

NECK – TOP TO BOTTOM RATIO


Slope of shoulder
 Nothing is more critical to balance than the
slope of shoulder
 When the slope of the shoulder is steep, the
ratio of the top line and underline changes
The Ideal Quarter Horse

TOP TO BOTTOM RATIO


Slope of the Shoulder
 When the slope of the shoulder is steep, a
horse’s back is longer resulting in a shorter
neck
 That horse’s heart girth is shallower, so that
his legs are longer than his heart girth
Other indicators of balance
 The hindquarters should appear square and
full when viewed from the side
 The ideal horse is as full and as long across
the horizontal plane of the stifle as it is from
the point of the hip to the point of the
buttocks
The Ideal Quarter Horse

SQUARE HIIP
The Ideal Quarter Horse

LONG CROUP AND HIP


The ideal horse is as long across the horizontal plane
of the stifle as it is from the point of hip to the point
of buttocks
Structural Correctness
 Related to skeletal structure
 There are optimum proportions and lengths
of bone that allow optimum performance
 Structurally correct legs are very important
 Legs and feet take a tremendous amount of
stress….correct structure means efficient
movement with less concussion
 Properly aligned bones distribute the weight
of the horse evenly throughout the limb
PASTERN
AND HOOF
ALIGNMENT
EXPENSIVE HOBBY

AN EXAMPLE OF “FORM TO FUNCTION”


Breed and Sex Character
(Quality)
 Breed type – overall body style
 Sex characteristics – masculinity and
femininity – most easily recognized in the
head and throatlatch areas - hard to define
but easily recognized
 Stallions tend to have larger jowls and
sometimes thicker in the throat latch
SEX CHARACTER
A STALLION SHOULD LOOK LIKE A
STALLION
SEX CHARACTER
A MARE SHOULD LOOK LIKE A MARE
Degree of Muscling
 Depends on:
 Breed type
 Age
 Sex type
 The correct horse is muscled uniformly throughout
 There is a difference between fat and muscle
 A fit horse will show more delineation of muscle
Way of Going
(Tracking)
• A judge must watch a horse track to
determine straightness of legs, movement
and stride length
• The horse must be viewed front and back at
the walk and trot and from the side at the
trot
COLOR DISTORTION
Summary
A horse’s conformation can be evaluated by
analyzing
 Balance
 Structural Correctness
 Breed and Sex Character
 Degree of Muscling
 Tracking (way of going)
A factor that is not easily measured until
you start working with a horse is his
“mind” or trainability…
Often a poor attitude is associated with
poor conformation…
An athlete with a great mind is a
wonderful combination…