Profit as a Two year old with conformation markings.
QUARTER HORSE CONFORMATION BASICS
There are a lot of factors which affect a horse’s suitability for purpose. A healthy , sound horse with a willing temperament trained to do what you want in should be the overall consideration in horse selection.
Judging a horse’s conformation from a photo does not enable one to properly assess the horses movement. A thorough conformation assessment would require full side views as well as front and back shots.
I have marked up a side profile of Profit at two years old to illustrate the basic points of conformation. Please feel free to comment on his profile based upon the following basic points. After all, he is Mrs. Hooks horse and she promises not to be offended by any negative comments. J
BALANCE The first impression. A side profile of the horse should present a pleasing balanced picture. The head and neck should flow together into the front shoulders through a proportional back to the hind quarters with no one portion of the body over powering another. The horses general condition should be obvious with healthy coat, good flesh without being excessively fat or thin. A good confirmation horse’s over all impression will be pleasing to the eye of both knowledgeable and casual observer alike.
TOP LINE A horse’s top line drawn from the highest point to the withers to highest point of the hips should be basically level, or slightly higher at the withers. The neck should join the withers smoothly and be level in appearance.
If a horse is low in the withers they will have more problems with collection that a horse that is balanced.
The distance from the withers to the point were a line joining the point of buttock to point of hip exiting the back should be approximately 50% of the length of the horses under line.
BOTTOM LINE The underline should follow a smooth line from the bottom of the withers to the flank of the horse.
HEAD The horses head should give an overall refined appearance with large bright eye placed on the side of the head. The muzzle should be in proportion to the rest of the head with a flat or sight dish from the nostrils to the forehead.
The head should join to the neck cleanly with trim throatlatch to allow the horse to flex at the poll to allow easy response to the bit. A thick throatlatch would make it more difficult to give to the bit.
NECK The preferred neck is long and slender and attached to the withers in a smooth line and attached to the shoulder well up on the chest to allow free shoulder movement. The neck should flow smoothly with no or dip in the top line of the neck from the withers to the poll.
FRONT A line drawn from the point of the withers to the point of the shoulder and on to the ground will indicate the shoulder angle of the horse. It is impossible for a horse to bring his leg forward at an angle greater than his shoulder so it becomes obvious that the steeper the shoulder angle the shorter the stride of the horse. A short stride ( steep angle) horse will produce a stride that is shorter and more choppy with more up and down movement than a long stride horse.
The horse front leg should be placed well forward under the shoulder. A line drawn vertically from the highest point of the withers to the ground should pass behind the line of support of the front leg as indicated by the line through the cannon bone which should also be vertical to the ground. If the line of support angles back under the body or ahead of the body the horse could be predisposed to soundness problems because of unequal stresses imposed on the knee. The canon bone line should pass though the rear of the hoof. The pastern angle should reflect the shoulder angle. Excessive pastern angle or steep pastern angles would move the hoof ahead or behind the column of support and lead to soundness issues.
BACK The withers should be well defined for good saddle retention and extend behind the front shoulders flowing smoothly through a strong back to a well muscled loin to the point of the hip. Excessive dips or flatness in the back will require some type of compensating pad or saddle to ensure a correct fit of the saddle.
The hip angle is formed by a line joining the point of the hip to the point of the buttocks. An excessively steep angle would translate into a short hip and would not be as strong as a long hip due to the difference in the amount of hip muscle. A steep hip angle will affect the movement of the horse by limiting the ability of the rear legs to move under the horse as required for proper collection.
A line dropped vertically through the point of the buttock should ideally pass through the point of the hock. If the hock is forward of the line the horse is said to be sickle hocked. The rear canon bone should also be vertical to the ground and a line through the canon bone should pass through the hoof with a pastern angle that is not too steep to ensure ideal support for the tendons and ligaments.