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It finally happened. Terra stood well enough for me to get a decent conformation pic of her this past weekend when EZ & I were at Tippecanoe River State Park here in northern IN (more on that later with gobs of pics[^][Big Grin][Wink]).

The background makes it a little difficult to see her hind legs, which is what has been bothering me most about her conformation. I have always wondered if her hocks sit just a tad out from her rear, and now I can see that they do... just barely. I have never gotten serious about teaching her to canter correctly, since I trail ride, now, and don't show anymore. In other words; I've gotten lazy since I don't have to get a horse ready for the show season every spring anymore. If I got on her case and trained her more often, maybe I could get her to canter better.

The problem is she likes to travel on her front end. She would rather hand gallop than canter, and getting her to shift her weight to the rear has been a real challenge. I have always liked her 45 degree angled shoulders and hips. This is why I bought her in the first place at 10 months of age. She has a nice short top line and long bottom line, but I never looked close at her hind legs until after I started having canter problems. Her trot is a joy to ride, and she can really move out at a walk, but she doesn't like to extend at the trot. She would rather just speed up instead of lengthen her stride.

And just for the record; She has more endurance than you can shake a stick at, has always been sound and solid as a rock on trail rides up to 6 hours or longer, and is one of the best trail horses I've ever ridden in my life. Two veteran endurance racers have practically demanded that I put her in distance riding competition. The one is a lady with over 6000 endurance racing miles to her credit, and the other is a gentleman who trains and rides distance horses in competition for their owners for a living. He's also put more distance medallions on Appaloosas in the ApHC than anyone else in the history of the club. He said that I could put a distance medallion on Terra with no trouble at all.

Anyway, this is my analysis of Terra who is a 9 year old Foundation Appaloosa mare. So, let me hear your comments, and if it would be possible to train her to do a halfway decent 3 beat canter instead of a 4 beat hand gallop. And please take into consideration that I have no plans on entering her in a horse show[Smile][Wink].

[Image: 100_0382.jpg]

Well, I dunno about the gaits, but she's purty... [Smile]

Nice conformation shot and analysis.

I have never experienced a problem getting a horse to canter. Most times it is just a collection, work from more from behind conditioning and reinforcement of the collection cues. Sometimes loping smaller circles will help.

With your knowledge and experience with horses, I am sure you know all of that. It does put more strain on the back muscles and hocks to do a collected canter so if you really want to get her to collect and canter in a correct three beat, my suggestion is that you rule out any soreness in her back and hocks first, then start working her on the lunge line until she slows enough to get into the canter, then reinforce it with some sort of verbal cue you can use when riding.
Yep, that's pretty much what I thought, too. That I'm not spending enough time on training sessions to get her to do it. One day, I did get her to 3 beat for a couple of strides. It was so quick that if I hadn't known what to feel for, I probably would've missed it. Do you think that because her hocks are a tad behind her rear that this is the reason why I've had problems with her collecting and shifting her weight to the rear?
In some ways, I've been spoiled because of Dove. He has an excellent set of hind quarters and reaches well under himself at any gait. He's a great little Hunt Seat Pleasure horse and has wonderful extension at the trot and the canter. I know the Pleasure Driving judges at the regional shows just loved him.

Now, I have a horse that's more of a challenge. Well, the weather is better, now. All I have to do is push myself to start working her more at home[:I][Smile][Wink].
I agree that she could have a bit more muscling on her hind quarters but almost every horse can do a three beat canter ( even a Walking Horse) regardless of conformation, some just have to work a little harder.

Does she do a three beat canter when she is loose in the pasture?

Assuming has no soundness problem ( she can go forever on the trails) then it may be a mental problem stemming from some old injury or incident and she learned to protect it by galloping. If you force her to relearn it on the Lunge line it would probably be a good idea to take it slow until she develops the new muscles.
Hook; I've been thinking about what you said about Terra needing a bit more muscling on her hindquarters, and this made me think about something a distance riding friend of mine said once. He said that this type of hindquarters, like Terra has, is sometimes misinterpreted as, should I say, under developed by most people that are used to QH conformation. When, in reality, this is the long and lean type muscle that endurance and distance riders look for first and foremost. Because it's not the large muscling normally seen in QH's and other stock horse breeds, it is usually discribed as under developed when it is exactly what a distance or endurance type prospect should have.

I think what this boils down to is the difference between a sprinter and a long distance runner. The sprinter will have more pronounced muscle where as the distance runner will look almost under nourished but be whipcord strong. I don't know if that's the best example to use, but maybe it would be better to compare the difference between a QH to a TB. The QH is made to run short distances as compared to the TB who is bred for longer distances. Hence, they have different conformation types.

Anyway, as I have said many times before; Foundation Appaloosas have their own distinct conformation. It's not Arabian, it's not QH, it's not TB, but something unique to the Appaloosa alone. Us Foundation Appaloosa enthusiasts (sp?) call it the Phippin Horse, and this is the original breed standard of the ApHC.

I thank you for your comments and your help, and I know you mean well, but I just thought about this in the last day or so, and thought I'd comment upon it. Thanks, again.

Say Redhawk; No need to defend Terra's conformation. I am sure she is everything you want her to be.

Your question was in regard to her ability to do a 3 beat canter. You said that "In some ways, I've been spoiled because of Dove. He has an excellent set of hind quarters and reaches well under himself at any gait. He's a great little Hunt Seat Pleasure horse and has wonderful extension at the trot and the canter. "

I agreed with you that Terra could have a bit more muscling on her hind quarters referring to your comment about Dove. I made no reference to Quarter horse conformation.

That being said correct balanced conformation is just that regardless of breed. A balanced horse will find it easier to do most gaits than one that is not.

A horse with a front end heavier than it's back end will find it harder to perform a collected gait. A balanced sprinting horse will be able to sprint easier than unbalanced one and a balanced distance horse will find it easier to do distance riding than one that isn't.

We all know there are exceptional individuals that are able to compensate for their physical shortcomings.

You did post Terra's picture on the conformation board and asked for comments relating to her problems doing a three beat canter. My response was made with good intentions and in no way should be construed as defamation of the Foundation Appaloosa breed.

Wiping egg off my face[:I][:I][:I][Smile].

I see I've stuck my foot in my mouth, again. I'm quite aware that Terra's back legs are not conformationally correct, and that all breeds have conformation faults with any breed. I'm sorry if you thought I was defending Foundation Appaloosas. Maybe I was, to an extent, but that was not my point. I was just commenting that some endurance racing friends of mine like Terra's hindquarters just fine and it is what most distance riders look for in a distance horse prospect... regardless of breed. But they did say that most people who are more used to stock horse conformation would call it lack of muscle when it isn't. I was not in any way trying to put QH's down.

Dove has a lot of Foundation Appaloosa breeding in his background, too. But he does have the type of conformation that helps him shift his weight more under his body than what Terra has. Again, like you pointed out, this can be seen among individuals in any breed.

So, I really think you & I are on the same page[Smile]. All I was trying to point out was that depending on what a horse is used for has everything to do with their basic conformation. And sometimes, this leans heavily in favor of certain breeds over others.

I've really enjoyed this discussion, and I have learned some things, too, that will be helpful to me. I just wanted to know if Terra did look like her hind legs were a tad too far out from her rear and if this could be the reason why she didn't like to do a 3 beat canter. Basically, she's a very strong horse for her body type, which is typical of her breeding. I know I got tickled when Flooper rode with us on the first DE ride. He said that I reminded him of a young girl out for an enjoyable ride on her horse[Smile][Smile][Smile]. Not bad for a woman in her 50's [Big Grin]. LOL!