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Grade Appy
#11
I had to chuckle at your last comment, Appygirl. Tag had been sent to the barn on trial where we were taking riding lessons and I had been riding him for about a month. The time had come for him to go home if no one was interested in buying him. I really liked him and told hubby I wanted to buy him. Hubby said he wanted to look for a better looking horse. Needless to say, I got my way and Tag was mine. Hubby, however, bought a very handsome horse that proceeded to buck him off, and promptly went back to the seller. Now he claims Tag is his horse!
I love my ugly Appy! Pretty is, as pretty does!
Nancy (and Tag & Rocky)
Free & easy down the trail I go......
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#12
quote:
Originally posted by appygirl

[Image: d21772ea.jpg]

This is Hi-Grey. He is a 13-year old grade appaloosa; 15.2 hands.



appygirl has asked me to run through The Basics of Conformation again using Hi-Grey as the subject.

Please keep in mind that although I have been involved in horses for over 35 years and have learned a little I am not an expert. I like good looking well put together horses that have the basic Quarter horse look of versatility and ability to excel in what ever you want from racing to performance. I call them "good usin' horses".

The best horse for you is the one that works with you, gives his all when needed with just enough independence to ensure you pay attention.

Please work through each topic with me and try to see where you can apply the logic on your own horse.

THE BASICS
Judging horses from photos is very difficult. The pose of the horse should be a direct side view with the horse in a natural position with legs and feet in alignment directly under their body.
Hi Grey is not in the best position to do this with his head down and legs not positioned well so we will have to make some assumptions based on the other photographs appygirl supplied.

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.

Hi-Grey presents a good over-all picture. He looks quite balanced. His neck appears a bit heavy but is balanced by his over sturdy appearance through his well muscled front, back and hip. He is set up on solid legs.
i would think also from the picture he likes his groceries and is well supplied but carries it well. His muscle definition would improve with more exercise and conditioning.


TOP LINE
A horse’s top line drawn from the highest point of 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.

Hi-Grey has an excellent top line. In both photos his withers are slightly higher than his hip.


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.

It is difficult to actually evaluate the length of his back form the standard line from the point of hip to the point of buttock due to his leg position in both photos but he certainly looks to have a good short back indicating strength with good muscling and a strong loin.

BOTTOM LINE
The underline should follow a smooth line from the bottom of the withers to the flank of the horse.

His bottom line looks good, nice heart girth moving smoothly to his hip. ( except for the tummy which he is working on helping get bigger).

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.

Hi-grey has a nice eye well located on his head to give a good view of the trail. His ears are just right for his head size. His muzzle could be more refined and looks a bit large compared to the the rest of his head and to the ideal.

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.

HI-Grey definitely has a thick throat latch that would suggest he has some difficulty in flexing at the poll and his normal way of going would be nose slightly ahead of vertical which would affect his ability to collect and also hold his head in the proper position ti view trails. His good eye and eye location would compensate for this on the trail.


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.

His neck attaches to his withers nice and level. His neck appears to be quite a bit thicker than ideal and attaches low on his shoulder which would probably result in HI-grey having a shorter stride than ideal.
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.

HI grey has a steeper than ideal shoulder angle. I suspect this would translate into a shorter stride and higher knee action on the trail

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.

His Pastern angle seems lower than his shoulder angle which is helping to cushion his step. This also places his hoof ahead of the column of support and could lead to problems in his pasterns over time. the size of the bone in his pasterns suggest that it is strong enough not to be a problem but I would make sure that his trimming schedule is maintained to avoid low heels or long toes which would put more pressure on his pasterns.

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.
I would like to see his withers extend further back with more definition. I would think that appygirl has some problems with keeping the saddle from rolling on his back and uses a tight girth and beast collar to keep it in place on his back. may be just due to the extra groceries

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.

Hi-Greys hip is well muscled with a good angle . The hip muscle attaches a bit higher than ideal and the gaskin muscle as not as well developed as I would expect for his overall structure.

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.

From the photos it is difficult to see but I would say that his hocks are set out a bit too far behind which would affect his ability to reach under himself from his hindquaters to enable him to lighten up hi front end for proper collection.


SUMMARY
I like the over all impression of Hi-Grey. He appears to be a good overall horse with enough positive physical attributes to over come his weaker areas. I think he needs to watch the groceries as excessive weight will put unnecessary strain on his front pasterns. I would also be very regimented about his hoof trim schedule to ensure the hoof angles do not get too low.

PLEASE feel free to criticize my conformation analysis of Hi-grey. Ask for any clarification as required. My purpose is to help those who wish to better understand conformation and suggestions to improve the basic conformation pointers would be appreciated.

Hook(ed)......on Horses

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. " Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
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#13
Thanks for the conformation analysis, Hook. It was very informative and much more than I would have been able to come up with. Great to hear that I have a pretty decent horse, conformationally speaking; and, yes, he does love his groceries and more off-season conditioning and arena work would benefit him.

One thing that interests me in your analysis and PG, RH, EZ and others may be able to provide some input here on this as well as they have seen Hi-Grey move. Hi-Grey doesn't really seem to be short-strided to me and can really 'eat up' the ground at a walk.

He is on a pretty strident trimming schedule year round, but he never grows heel. I have spoken with his farrier (well-schooled and trained) about this and he feels that changing his angle using heel caulks ore something would put to much pressure on his toe. But I will discuss this with him again.

Thanks a million, Hook. I didn't expect Hi-Grey to be perfect (conformationally), but you have confirmed to me that overall he is a nice horse. I wish I had your eye of being able to decipher a horse's conformation.

Appygirl

Man does not have the only memory,
The animals remember,
The earth remembers,
The stones remember,
If you know how to listen, they will tell you many things.
- Claude Kuwanijuma - Hopi Spiritual leader


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#14
quote:
Originally posted by appygirl

Thanks for the conformation analysis, Hook. It was very informative and much more than I would have been able to come up with. Great to hear that I have a pretty decent horse, conformationally speaking; and, yes, he does love his groceries and more off-season conditioning and arena work would benefit him.

One thing that interests me in your analysis and PG, RH, EZ and others may be able to provide some input here on this as well as they have seen Hi-Grey move. Hi-Grey doesn't really seem to be short-strided to me and can really 'eat up' the ground at a walk.

He is on a pretty strident trimming schedule year round, but he never grows heel. I have spoken with his farrier (well-schooled and trained) about this and he feels that changing his angle using heel caulks ore something would put to much pressure on his toe. But I will discuss this with him again.

Thanks a million, Hook. I didn't expect Hi-Grey to be perfect (conformationally), but you have confirmed to me that overall he is a nice horse. I wish I had your eye of being able to decipher a horse's conformation.



Appygirl

Thanks for the kind comments. There are very few horses that have perfect conformation, just some that are closer to ideal than others.

If you trace the imaginary line from the point of Hi-Grey's withers through the point of his shoulders and on to the ground, that will be the maximum extension that he is physically capable of doing. Take a print of your photo and draw the line. Then print the one of Profit that has the line on it and see if you can detect the difference. I would think that "Hi-Grey is eating up the ground' with quicker strides to compensate for the strides being shorter.

If you review the picture of Hi-Grey at the trailer and follow the pastern line and compare it the line of his hoof, they should match. A good hoof angle needs to match the pastern angle,( which ideally should match the shoulder angle. It may be just that his heel is buried in the ground, but in the picture his heels are extremely low and his toe is too long. His conformation with the line of support behind the hoof is creating the extra pressure on his heels and keeping them from growing as much as the toe. My suggestion is to get your farrier to put shoes on him with wedge pads sufficient to bring his hoof angle into line with his pastern angle. The shoes will protect his heels while they grow back and over time you should be able to get his angles corrected. With Hi-Grey's hoof angle you are flirting with pulled suspensory ligaments ( bowed tendon)particularly if he is ridden for extended periods or on rough or hard packed terrain.
Hook(ed)......on Horses

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. " Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
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#15
I do have some comments...actually, it is something RH & I were taking about yesterday at the ITRA meeting...the fact that MOST Foundation Appaloosas seem to have both their fore & hind legs angled somewhat under them, and am wondering if this is what we are seeing here in Hi-Grey. I realize this would be considered faulty conformation by most people. All I know is that I personally have seen absolutely no soundness problems with these horses. Contrarily, they seem to be as tough as nails! I admit it doesn't look too great.

Secondly, and maybe this belongs in another topic...I have never done my own trimming, but have owned horses for 37 years...and have always follwed the adage that the hoof angle should match that of the pastern. I've not heard that you can change the pastern angle to be whatever you want by changing the hoof angle, & therefore be able to match the pastern angle to the shoulder angle! So I have to say I disagree with Hook about this.

While it would be ideal for both the shoulder & pasterns to have the same angle, in my experience, they sometimes don't. Hi-Grey seems to have more angle (slope) to his pasterns, than he does in his shoulder. I commented to Carol (On The Way)that Cloud seems to be conformed this way, also. The more sloping pasterns could be what saves these horses from being rough-gaited, even considering the slightly straight shoulder angles. Warsong, unfortunately, is very straight in both, & as you can imagine, not a smooth ride!

IMO, though, the proof is in the pudding! Hi-Grey & Cloud are not youngsters, but rather, horses in their teens that have seen a lot of miles. That they are still sound & raring to go tells me that sometimes what is considered "perfect" conformation, might be striclty from our point of perspective as to what is "pretty".

EZ2SPOT

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#16
quote:
Originally posted by EZ2SPOT


Secondly, and maybe this belongs in another topic...I have never done my own trimming, but have owned horses for 37 years...and have always follwed the adage that the hoof angle should match that of the pastern. I've not heard that you can change the pastern angle to be whatever you want by changing the hoof angle, & therefore be able to match the pastern angle to the shoulder angle! So I have to say I disagree with Hook about this.

While it would be ideal for both the shoulder & pasterns to have the same angle, in my experience, they sometimes don't. Hi-Grey seems to have more angle (slope) to his pasterns, than he does in his shoulder. I commented to Carol (On The Way)that Cloud seems to be conformed this way, also. The more sloping pasterns could be what saves these horses from being rough-gaited, even considering the slightly straight shoulder angles. Warsong, unfortunately, is very straight in both, & as you can imagine, not a smooth ride!

IMO, though, the proof is in the pudding! Hi-Grey & Cloud are not youngsters, but rather, horses in their teens that have seen a lot of miles. That they are still sound & raring to go tells me that sometimes what is considered "perfect" conformation, might be striclty from our point of perspective as to what is "pretty".

EZ2SPOT




Hi-Grey's toes are too long in the photo of him with the saddle. When the toes are too long, over time it will affect the pastern angle. Perhaps Hi-Grey is an exception but normally a horse's pastern angle do match the shoulder angle for all breeds. I would like to suggest that his hoof and pastern angles should match regardless of his shoulder angle and this is controllable by the farrier.
Hook(ed)......on Horses

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. " Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
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#17
Okay, I see what you are saying. I thought you were implying that the pastern angle could be changed to match the horse's shoulder angle, which I believe not to be the case, where the two are different. When that is the case, I believe the hoof should be trimmed to match the pastern angle, not the shoulder angle, when the two are different. Yes, I agree the toes in that picture were too long; probably a little overdue for a re-shoeing at the time.

While I do feel it is desirable for the pastern & shoulder angles to match, I'd say that in a good many horses, they don't. Can't really put a percentage on the number I've seen that that don't; I would say it is around 20-25%. For the most part, haven't seen these horses faring any worse than those with a perfect match. It just doesn't look as good.

EZ2SPOT
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