Our sample set of horses contained QH’s, a Paint, TB and Arabian, all breeds of horses used by many people as riding mounts. Indeed, according to this link they represent four of the five most popular breeds in the world.
It may then come as a surprise when I say that none of our sample horses possess true ‘riding’ conformation; that is conformation that allows the horse to easily engage so that it can protect against the weight of a rider and the stresses of various riding disciplines on its body.
Part of the problem is that QH’s, TB’s and Arabians are all used as racehorses, many Paints contain QH blood, and QH’s, Paints and Arabians have show halter classes, all of which take the horse away from riding type conformation. We then have breeders who make bad choices and buyers who don’t know any better. Added to the mix is the generosity of the horse that allows people to think the horse is fine because it plugs along day after day without loud complaint.
If our six sample horses were the last on Earth, which one should we pick as our riding horse? In reverse order:
6. Paint mare:
Classify this one as Fugly. It’s a committee result, each member with a different idea and direction in mind – none of them good choices. The scapula is just too long, putting the point of shoulder and elbow too low particularly in comparison to the hind end, which gives the impression of it being stuck up in the air. The amount of engagement required to get the weight off this front end is not something this horse is capable of doing. The hip is too short, the loin too weak, and the gaskin too long for this horse to overcome. The bull neck and hammer-headedness just add insult. Put a kiddie saddle on this one and walk it around in circles, anything more is asking for trouble.
5. Arabian stallion:
This should be a gelding. Some are going to be fooled by this individual and think he’s a good riding prospect. He’s not. While he does possess some outstanding riding features; well-structured neck set high on a laidback shoulder, well-placed LS joint and what appears a great head for carrying a bit, there’s no chance this horse can engage and carry himself on his haunch. The table top croup, overly straight hind legs, too long gaskin and high hock see to that. And since he won’t be able to shift much weight rearward it means he’ll be living on that right front leg with its obvious crookedeness and clubbed foot.
Here is this stallion’s pedigree chocked full of big name horses.
In this ad you’ll find a video link. Notice twisting hocks at the walk, wide and short striding behind, the pogoing hocks that trail, toe stubbing, and constant clamped, hollow back.
4. Roan QH gelding:
Terrible farrier work aside, there’s just no way around the post-leggedness. It’s too serious a fault (that there’s no reason to discuss anything else) and it shows already in his hocks.
3. Grey QH gelding:
This horse isn’t any more suitable than the others. He gains his position by having some potential to engage, but the longer loin, downhill build and low set neck is going to seriously impede his ability to shift weight rearward. His current owner/trainer/rider hasn’t succeeded in getting him off his forehand.
2. QH stallion:
I like this horse. But not as a ‘riding’ mount. Getting him off his forehand remains a hard task. He’s strong enough behind to do it with exceptional training and riding. And brute strength. He’s very consistantly built for power and speed.
No surprise that this horse has done well as a roping horse. Here’s his website.
And a video of him in competition. (2nd go around)
1. TB gelding:
Wins by default? Pretty much. Not fast, not powerful, but level enough with a really good loin coupling that should allow a bit of engagement. While he lacks substance, his joints are clean. His feet look better than many of his breed. With some solid training he’d do okay as a low level horse for local or fair circuit. The straighter hind leg will help with jumping, but he’s only going to have average jumping form; humerus not vertical enough and knee too high. One thing that will have to be addressed right off is the digestive upset. When easily seen ribs are paired with a bloated or distended belly, there’s a problem.
I would not disagree with the faults you pointed out on the Arabian. However, it helps to keep in mind that horses can overcome conformation faults and be very useful. Basque Aflame is certainly not a stand-in-his-stall horse according to the Dreamhorse Ad. His conformation faults may shorten his useful life but I wonder:Arabs are tough at the core and this one has done a lot.
I concede your point-why buy a horse with obvious conformation faults if you can choose another with less and I have really enjoyed this discussion.
Lots of horses with bad conformation are ‘useful’ to their owners, no doubt. And SOME conformation traits can be overcome. We’ve not had that discussion yet – table top croup and overly straight hind legs don’t fall in that category. What gets missed is that these horses are often suffering silently and their owners oblivious. Then the same mistakes in breeding and training/riding get repeated.
If the owner of the Arabian stallion actually sat on a correctly conformed Arabian and did the exact same activities their eyes would be opened by the ease and difference with which the properly conformed horse performs. Usefulness suddenly becomes the bottom of the scale for such a horse, instead of the top. Lots of behaviors would disappear that they’ve swept under the carpet or ignored, and the horse would be healthier and sounder.
The black and white paint I posted in part 2 of the hind leg has a combination of three serious faults for a riding horse; post-legged, downhill, low neck set. He is extremely useful because, a) he’s very strongly conformed in other areas that allow him to stand up to the pounding of being unable to engage well, b) is exceptionally intelligent, with the right temperament and personality for survival, c) has been managed with much knowledge and consideration, and d) has been trained and ridden with even more knowledge and consideration. None of that, however, changes the fact he’s a dog conformation-wise and should never have been bred. It was only good fortune for him and the people around him that he ended up in educated hands before he hurt himself or a person. (That’s not an exaggeration)
The Arabian stallion should never have been bred and there’s less than zero excuse for him to still have all his parts. What he does, he doesn’t do well relative to equine ability, regardless of any ribbons or awards he may have won and his people are ignorant to that.
It’s not okay to perpetuate poor conformation because the end result might be a useful beast. That’s not right and it’s backwards thinking.
The “for sale” video on the Arabian really helped me understand the issues at hand with his build. He’s moving weird behind and “stabbing” the ground with those back feet, throwing a boatload of dust. I didn’t see that coming and thought he looked OK standing still. *sigh* Clearly, I have more work to do on my understanding of hq conformation. *sigh*
I think that hind leg conformation is the hardest to understand. And since it’s the hind end that’s (mostly) going to ultimately decide if a horse can engage easily or well, it’s the part of the horse one should look at first.
There are muscular patterns in his body that confirm his in ability to engage, but it was nice to have a video available.
For the Arabian it’s the too flat and short pelvis that sets the tone. Then the other pieces add to its dysfunction; the long tibia, the high hocks and the overall straightness of the whole leg.
Correct me if I’m wrong Merc but many of the Arabs I’ve seen or had to work with over the years are notorious for counter-cantering. Their hind legs trail out behind them left/right while the front is going right/left, their heads pasted to the right on top of an overly raised neck contributing to a tight back tightened more by a flipped tail. People consider this ‘pretty’. I’ve seen them womp right onto their sides and slide along the ground from this posture and lunging only furthers the cross canter. I’ve always blamed the table-top croup and shortness of hip for contributing to this. In my world, cross cantering is a serious offense. If nothing else than telling me that there is a balance issue that has been overcome by the horse and unlikely to improve much.
Yes, I have seen a general tendency for Arabians to counter-canter (and forge as the trot). I’ve been seeing it quite a bit in Warmbloods as well…those that are very leggy and quite rectangular. In the legginess is often a racy hind leg (short femur, long tibia).
Counter-canter can happen for a number of different reasons; injury, uncoordination, lack of balance (heavy on the forehand and/or lateral imbalance due to counter bending), stiffness through the ribcage, interference caused by conformation (such as a over-angulated behind) etc…
I’ve had my eye on the blue roan since the first post and out of the horses posted I would still choose him first for myself. I do, however, agree that the TB does possess saving graces and that the QH stallion is a decent representative of the breed. I explored his website and was pleased to see that he is having a successful career doing what he was bred to do. A bit more poking and I found pics of him in harness pulling a cart and he looked quite at home with that job as well.
None of the horses have ‘riding horse’ conformation but I wouldn’t hesitate to own the TB, Blue Roan red stallion. I think any of the 3 could hold up well enough to enjoy. I wouldn’t take a chance on the other 3.
Well, not to be pushy, and I’m glad you have real employment again now that you’re legal, but what’s next? Muscles? Feet? Analyzing movement? BTW, Stableminds is closing down but will be on Facebook if you are interested.
Well, I hadn’t decided. Thought we should discuss what traits can’t ever be ignored, which ones can sometimes be ignored – when, why – (combinations that make things worse, make things better, nullify each other etc…) But your suggests are all good. (And sound like a lot of work.)
That would be a good post, though much of it is a ‘little’ bit of almost anything can be ignored for an ordinary backyard horse in light use by an amateur. A little bench kneed, a little bit back at the knee, a little posty in the back legs, an SI slightly further back than perfect, a little low in the neck, all those things that would be mere conformation ‘faults’. Pathological faults, so much as to be a serious threat to the health of the horse in work, or such as bad enough parrot mouth, dangerous to health period, or to affect way of going or balance to the point that any athletic endeavor may at any moment end in a stumble and fall, nothing offsets those, nothing can be ignored. I look at is as a continuum from almost perfect to dangerous.
To me, the more difficult but much more useful conversation would be to discuss how handling and training properly can compensate for many faults that are in the mild category. In one sense that conversation is simple, to the extent possible, one gets the horse to move straight with some degree of collection. How you get there, however, isn’t simple at all nor is it easy.
I would be very interested in well-illustrated posts to teach the difference between the degree of fault that would be acceptable for average light-use horse, compared to what should be a deal breaker all day long for everyone, as well as how to mitigate those “acceptable” faults.
Would also be interested in any information as to how to locate/identify/purchase acceptably conformed horses without spending huge sums of money – how to bargain-hunt, so to speak. I’d LOVE to see a post of horses for sale that you would consider worthwhile prospects, at various price points – say under $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 and maybe a few “if money was no object” horses.
This would be a great discussion. There are deals out there and there are the ridiculously overpriced with speshul attributes (imported, sire of, 1/6 brother to, rare color) that seem to attract buyers in droves. Kind of stinks when a plainer, more conformationally correct horse gets little notice. And this subject is right up Merc’s alley! (wink, wink – on the money!!) 🙂
Maybe the changing usefulness of the horse over the centuries.
Mercedes, I was looking at this stallion, and something seems terribly wrong with him. I am no expert, but he doesnt look like stallion quality to me. See their stallion “Hoot”
They are using the same farm name that I have been using, which is why I happened to stumble upon. (For training purposes, I use Phoenix Performance Horses).
He’s post-legged, hip looks short especially for his breed, low set neck that might actually be a ewe-neck, closed shoulder angle and without checking to verify, I’d say he’s close to also being short-backed. Has less than zero business being a stallion.
He looks like a child’s backyard pony
Not the video I would have used to sell stud services. I just watched 30 seconds of “His head can turn left if we pull on it hard enough!” A trait that will surely bring the masses running, cash in hand.
Now that we’ve seen a lot of less than ideal examples-I’d love a post of horses that really have the conformation needed to be good riding animals, like the gray you showed in the previous post. I think it’s good to have a mental image of what “ideal” looks like, so you can hold other examples up for comparison.
Also a thought from my biology-major perspective: is an uphill build maladaptive in the wild? If being downhill facilitates speed in the horse, it would make sense for primitive horses to be built that way-the fastest horses escape predators and perpetuate their conformation. What do you think?
Yes and no. The evolution of the horse had to do with the changing world, having started in a forested region and moving to open plains. Much of what you see nowadays is man-made via selective breeding, rather than survival of the fittest.
First, it’s a rare horse that is truly uphill built. It’s far more likely for a horse to be level or slightly downhill built with conformation that readily allows for uphill movement than for a horse to be uphill built.
Secondarily, being fast isn’t just about being downhill built and shifting weight to the forehand. To be fast the horse also has to have adequate hip length, well-placed ls joint, strong loin coupling, the right muscle type ratios, the right set up of neurology, etc… Then there are things like power and agility that would help a horse defend itself and escape prey.
Obviously putting the QH stallion and the grey (horse you reference with riding conformation) in a head to head match race will see the QH win every time. That doesn’t mean, though, that the grey would be captured by the prey.
Agree, I’d like to see good examples now too.
Re: adaptive traits in horses… seems to me a horse in the wild state needs a more complex set of characteristics than simply speed. The horses closest to the primitive/ wild state – I’m thinking mustangs, Sable Island horses, Icelandics – are tough scrubby little things. I’m sure most modern TBs would be faster in a race but that hardly means the TB would be most able to survive to pass on its genes. The horse really only needs to be faster than the predator, not as fast as possible, which is how modern TBs have been bred.
I’m in the process if trying to find good confo shots of a QH, Arabian, Paint and TB that are of riding conformation to do a comparison article. Having a very hard time finding suitable pictures of suitable candidates. A REALLY hard time.
Adding on the topic of this comment: in the wild, predators are also going to first choose to attack the young, the old, the sick and the lame. An adult horse in its prime is the last one a predator is going to be targeting regardless of levelness of build or other conformation trait that would make it a ‘relatively’ slow horse.
Seems to me if you find a stock horse that is truly of riding horse conformation it would no longer be a stock horse. BEG
….and it’s likely advertised as some other breed!
a horse to use an example, all time cutting sire, get have won over $60 million, yes, million in cutting. He sold at age 25 with his clone and semen bank and various progeny from the Waggoner Ranch for TEN MILLION dollars. There are few conformation style shots of him, but I guarantee he’s a little posty, a little downhill and his front legs won’t be perfect. He is not a riding horse. And not one person in competitive cow events gives a shit that he isn’t riding horse conformation. He isn’t supposed to be.
another example, leading racing qh sire, a beautiful horse in my opinion, but a little too long in the tibia, down hill, a sprinter’s butt for sure, but then he’s meant to win on a quarter mile track. He is not a riding horse or sire of riding horses. He isn’t supposed to be.
another example, a gorgeous horse, I tear up every time I think of him, post legged, slightly down hill, too light of bone, and there may never be the like again. Not a riding horse. Thank goodness he wasn’t.
Stock horses and racing horses back when horses were using horses and function was of critical importance, developed separately from riding horses. We, the American public, don’t know enough about horses, we are susceptible to marketing and we end up not breeding riding horses as a rule.
Andalusians are stock horses that are riding horses, but their cattle work, the bull ring, is different than range work. We could breed for quarter horses that are more like Andalusians, and given the way most people use horses now, that would be a good thing. But quarter horses don’t have bad conformation, thoroughbreds don’t have bad conformation vis a vis their jobs just for being posty and dowhhill, that’s a feature not a bug. They should still have good joints, proper alignment of the leg bones, good SI, strong loins, but they shouldn’t really look like riding horses. The excesses of the halter horses and weedy pleasure horses, that is bad.
Thing about HBC that kills me, the $21,000 stud fee cutting horse, is that along with the $60M his get have got, plenty of them never had the chance as their skin sloughed off before they have the chance. I don’t care how well he cuts cows, HERDA needs to be removed from the gene pool. No special passes on this one IMO.
I didn’t mean to imply I approved of HERDA and I had forgotten about that when looking at ‘conformation’ faults. Obviously, genetic diseases are an issue and I agree, you don’t continue them. My point was not that he should be a leading sire, but that from a conformational point of view, you may not want a ‘riding’ horse. So trying to make quarter horses into riding horses maybe shouldn’t be a goal, making quarter horses that can do the cow work and use a breed that is and has been of riding horse conformation, be America’s riding horse would be a better goal. And get rid of halter as a category. It encourages the worst fads.
Which, once again begs the question: Why Western Dressage when it’s clear the horses are not of riding type. Yep, do dressage as a matter of course because that’s how you gymnasticize a horse, blah, blah, blah….but to make an event for horses (majority that’ll be riding WD) that aren’t built for it…well, that’s just a whole lot of beating your head. However, if it causes the QH (Paint etc…) industries to change their breeding practices a bit, there might end up being a specialty line of QH’s that are level built, have more bone, bigger feet, higher neck sets etc…. to go along with the cutting, reining, etc… specialty lines.
Okay, I’m done. 🙂
Never thought you would promote a HERDA carrier in the least. Just said that people are willing to pay $21k to take that chance without any regard for the progeny.
Mercedes, I think we’ve run into one of the problems of modern marketing of breeds. If you want to sell a lot of horses, you need the horses to do lots of things. If western dressage was open to every kind of horse a person wanted to ride in western tack and in a western style (which to me means you ride lower level in a snaffle or bosal and a finished bridle horse in a western single bridle, no rollkur, but in release on draping reins) then we’d see some Andi’s and Aztecas and Morgans and other horses that are somewhat stock or jack of all trades types as well as Quarter Horses and the QH breeders would have to figure out how to breed a riding/stock style horse or get out of the discipline.
At the lower levels, there is no reason a decently conformed qh can’t do a simple walk, trot, canter test well enough, even if the gaits may not make many of them winners. Submission and accuracy can keep them in the game. The big warmbloods are turning into park horses, their gaits are getting crappier, and flashier, if correct gaits are being rewarded, they wouldn’t be big winners these days either.
We also need to get away from the idea that dressage tests are for competition with others, supposedly they are for measuring progress toward a goal. That winning has become the only thing in a big business profit industry means that the notion of dressage as training is dead. If dressage is training then western dressage and gaited horse dressage and even camel dressage makes sense.
I was going to post pics of horses I thought better represented the breed than those in this series but my eye is too familiar with the stock types and TB’s I see daily to critique like Merc. Above is a TB that showed nice substance, neck tie-in….and no, not just for the pointy toe!
Hmmm…..I suppose this could be a “full” TB on paper but dang, that looks a lot like a WB or at least a TBx! lol
With his coloring I’d guess he’s a Paint cross
There are crop outs, he could be a full tb.
Yup, while it isn’t exactly common, there are a lot of pure TB’s that have various white body markings from Sabino (very common although not often loudly expressed), and Splash White, Dominant White and Frame Overo (rare, only in certain family lines). http://www.whitehorseproductions.com/pintotbs.html has examples (the mare Faux Finish about a 1/4 way down the page looks nicely put together to me – any thoughts?).
I’m going off to feed a mare right now that has more white than that boy from blondemare’s link (Sabino – 4 long stockings and belly spot), and she is definitely 100% TB. And many moons ago I knew a TB broodmare that looked like someone had dumped a large bucket of white paint over one side of her rump (Splash White) that she passed on to some of her foals.
She is closer to riding type. Might be a good candidate to breakdown.
That’s Profile in Style,
The stud is advertising a lot here in Australia recently.
…unbeatable conformation….blah, blah, blah…. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
Haha, yes somewhat annoying marketing drivel.
Slightly unrelated, why do so many horse stud web sites look like they were written in the late 90’s…
Green Dancer, French TB, has more substance, stll a ‘racing’ type horse, but less post legged, has the higher knees and hocks one would expect of a racer, a great loin, lenght of hip, his shoulder is not particularly open but meets minimum, what is good for sporthorse consderation is the exellent length of upper arm bone between point of shoulder and elbow, he should be able to lift his knees..
another that is of the straight out the front neck build, slightly better shoulder, similar rear to our TB in this analysis, notice his ability at canter to bring the base of his neck up to just about level (sans rider), ability to be level at the trot with some suspension. He is an example of a horse that was picked up because he didn’t make it at the track, was slated for auction and was probably a ‘bargain’. He may not be the greatest horse going, but for a low level eventer/dressage horse, he’s nice enough.
This guy made my day, J. What a nicely balanced individual with an apparently wonderful disposition. I bet he was a bargain. I have 2 OTTB mares here that belong to friends, one was free and the other not much more. I’ve grown quite fond of their personalities, the young filly has a lot of common sense, she’s sound, a good student and quick learner. She’s downhill but otherwise doesn’t have any glaring flaws and works well under herself. In this area the OTTB’s are a dime a dozen and some of them aren’t half bad. You nailed it that they may not be the greatest horses going but for low level eventing/dressage, they’ll get the job done with enthusiasm. It’s great what Phil Dutton is doing with Icabad and the horse is proving himself a worthy investment as an eventer after winning over half a mil at the track.
http://www.arha.net/photos/stallions/2012/nobles-top-gun.png This Arab is pretty cute.
That’s an Arab???? He doesn’t look “typical” to me! Ha!
I’ve really enjoyed this series, it has been most educational! Thanks for all of your time and effort!!
1) I’d like to learn about what faults can be deal breaking, can be overlooked, negate each other. I think that would be helpful.
2) Along with Chestnut Mare and Haley, I would also like to see examples of horses for sale that you would consider worthwhile prospects for the lower-level amateur. Most of use can likely spot the “fugly” but posting more suitable horses will also help train our eye to spot a good one.
What might also be fun (or perhaps a challenge) would be to throw in one or two examples of horses that might look great at first glance but upon further inspection they are not.
Looking at various price points could be interesting too (e.g. this horse is worth what they are asking).
I digress a little here but…. horse prices are affected by many other criteria other than the actual horse. For instance, just southwest of me is a hoity toity horse area littered with million dollar facilities. Generally, no horses listed in this area are less than $40K! The same horse, if for sale 60 minutes north (in my area) might be listed for $20K. The actual horse doesn’t change the price, the location does.
Without having to call an appraiser, wouldn’t it be handy to have a “conformation checklist” where various criteria are listed and as you assess the horse, you mark them off accordingly. For example, if the shoulder angle is between this and that, the score is “5”; if it is between that and this, the score is “3”. At the end of the assessment, you would tally up the scores to get a total score. The total score could then be compared to a cost range. For example, if the horse received a score of “20/30” then the horse is worth between “Q” and “R”. If the score is higher, the higher the cost, the score lower, the lower the cost.
Of course, I think this might be impossible to generate and consistency as far as cost ranges would be different for everyone but dang, it would be handy!
Now you know I’ve not a bad eye for a horse. You also know I tend not to be blinded by “breed” and am one of those that drones on about purpose and type.
Of course though I’ve got preferences and I always struggle to look past a good thoroughbred and a good purebred Arab. But I won’t put a mediocre t/b above a “good” something else.
Generally I don’t like Quarterhorses. I think I’ve only ever seen about a dozen that I wouldn’t mind riding and only about 50% of those that I wouldn’t mind owning.
I know “good” and “bad” and “like” etc are all just subjective words and I’ll stick with that for this posting as IMO you’ve done your usual good job of objectively critiquing the parts.
But throughout I’ve been drawn to that QH stallion.
My placings would be:
1 Quarterhorse stallion (you had him 2) so not much change there
2 Quarterhorse gelding (you had him 3) so again, not much change there
3 Arab stallion (you had him 5) so not big difference – I don’t mind him keeping his testicles but it wouldn’t be doing the world of purebred Arabs huge service if he were allowed to be with an Arab mare in season. Having said that, I happen to think he’s a lot better than most Arabs I’ve seen pictured on US and Canadian web sites and forums or in the flesh over that way. At least that one only seems to have one marginally upright foot 😉
Past this point I’d not want to be bothered spending any time, money or effort on them:
4 Thoroughbred (you had him 1) this is where we have significant difference of opinion – I didn’t like him at all. Not at all. He’s no substance. He’s worse than mediocre. Didn’t like his hind end. Don’t like his knees. Don’t like his stifles. Don’t like his neck. I wouldn’t want to ride him. I wouldn’t want to train him. I wouldn’t want to own him. And…. I like Thoroughbreds.
Joint Last place – It really doesn’t matter to me which one wins this FUgly competition: For me it’s either “really FUgly” or “very FUgly”. makes no difference.
The roan quarterhorse – now that’s what I’m used to seeing presented by the less well educated masses as a quarterhorse. It’s awful! Heavy on the front end and with front legs like a couple of turkey drumsticks! and looks like a horse designed by someone who didn’t know where to start!
The paint – poor sod! Doesn’t have much going for it. Not even a pretty colour or nice markings!
I don’t particularly like the TB either, but most people could get on him, do some low level stuff, and all parties are likely to survive without severe trauma. Can’t really say the same for the Arabian. Did you even watch the video of the Arabian? Did you see his movement behind? You can’t have watched the video. The Arabian is crap (conformationally) all day long, every day.
The question wasn’t which horse would I most like to ride, but which one had the bone structure most suited to riding’s most basic task, allowing the horse to lift its back into weight bearing posture and collect sufficiently to balance weight off the forehand onto the rear legs under a rider.
WIth the qh stallion, he’ll level out once he’s moving like those old fashioned rocket cars used to set land speed records. Which is fun, which has its place, it just doesn’t make him a ‘riding’ horse, it makes him a great platform from which to rope a cow, though.
All along I was struggling to like the TB. It was pretty clear he was going to rank pretty high when all was said and done, but like hoo4hearted I just could not get past “meh”. Too many TB’s in the barn already, perhaps. If I absolutely had to choose one of these horses, I *might* possibly have been persuaded to find a stall for the grey QH as a schoolie. Maybe. Or not: I am generally not a fan of the type. None of them really appealed to me enough to ‘like’, I guess.
No I didn’t watch any video. I will now though 😉
As for where to go from here, I’m interested in the sorts of things other folks have mentioned — workable adult-amateur horses, value-for-money horses (a selection of breeds and disciplines). Read-n-discuss problems like “Here are some $1000 QHs for sale. Which is the best buy for an all-around 4-H kid’s project horse?” and “You are an adult amateur with $5000 to spend on your next 3′ hunter prospect. Which of these four ottb’s should you buy?” and even fantasyland stuff like “You are Beezie Madden. You have been offered your choice of the following dutch warmblood yearlings. Which one will grow up to jump grand prix courses?” might be a fun way to pursue more conformation.
“We also need to get away from the idea that dressage tests are for competition with others, supposedly they are for measuring progress toward a goal. That winning has become the only thing in a big business profit industry means that the notion of dressage as training is dead. If dressage is training then western dressage and gaited horse dressage and even camel dressage makes sense.”
Well stated J. This WD subject is one that Merc and I may always disagree on. You’ve seen my guy, he doesn’t have riding horse confo but we’ve had some success in WD and everything I learn and apply only strengthens him physically. He’s comfortable to ride, he and I survived a conditioning 16 miles with an endurance rider, we drag heavy things around the farm, ride in Versatility competitions, teach youngsters to pony. He may not be much but I will do what I can to make him the best he can be. So you hit it right on the head stating that dressage tests are for measuring progress. I enjoy competing and I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t want to do well but ultimately, it’s the individual marks that make my day. Nothing like a few 8’s to make my day!
QH’s fall into specific categories based on discipline of choice and sadly many are bred for one purpose and that breeding puts the horses at serious risk for falling apart. If more people take interest in WD, perhaps the breed as a whole will improve. No more 180 degree hock joints on halter horses and the WP could have some life breathed back into them. My QH’s are middle of the road bred without specialty and useful for multiple lower level disciplines. Rump high is the norm and true collection will never come easy for them but I’ve never found anything they won’t give a great effort to. No breed should be outcast from dressage competition. The lower levels are probably one of the best disciplines going for mind and body of any horse.
I’ve really enjoyed this series, and I’d love it if you could put them all together in one link on the sidebar so I could re-read them in order. I’m just geeky enough to sit at my computer and draw lines all over pictures of horses, and it would be nice to have all the articles in once place for easy reference.
I’m a bargain hunter by necessity when it comes to horses. I simply can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars. I need to shop smart! How much can I tell about a horse just by his appearance? For example, say I’m at the auction and I see a horse: ribby, with rain rot and overgrown hooves. Thanks to your educational series, I see he has good structure. Now, I can give him food, fungal cream, and a farrier to fix his immediate issues, and training problems can be worked through in time. But what can his muscles, stance, and movement tell me about past injuries — deal-breakers, perhaps? How much can that mild swayback be brought up with proper work? When is a bargain horse not a bargain, and when is it worth taking the chance? That’s an article I’d be interested in.
I’m afraid it would be a short article. Something like, A bargain can be had, and a good horse brought around, but there are always the ones you just can’t deal with for some reason or other.
The final decision is often one of resources and risk.
Resources: Does the person have the money for vet/healthcare work and therapy? Does the person have the vet/healthcare connections? Does the person have the time and energy and knowledge and money?
Risks: Is the person willing to take a chance? How big of a chance?
As long as you remember that the least expensive part is the purchase price of the horse. When all is said and done, often it’s less expensive to spend more on a better, healthier horse.
I’m not sure WordPress gives the option of listing articles in that manner. I’ll have a look. I believe most of the articles were titles either The Up And Down Of It, or the Long And Short Of It. Searching on that would get you most, if not all, of the articles.
I do think I’ll go along that line of trying to help people be able to pick out the bargain horse/diamond in the rough individual. I’m perusing the ads trying to find the right group of horses to examine etc… It’s very time consuming to find the right group of decent confo pictures to link everything together. I also wanted to relate it back to the series horses.
That sounds like a fun test of the principles you’ve covered so far. Part of the problem with sale ads is that most people take pictures like I do, useless, out of focus or odd angles of the horse.
Ah, those odd angles and fuzzy focus meant to hide flaws: standing the horse on a hill so no one will notice how butt-high he’s built, deep grass to hide those overgrown hooves or club feet, or my personal favorite– the extreme close-up of the beautiful eye, perhaps with a wisp of forelock fringing it. Because look how soulful and pretty! Buy horse now!
Yes, the discerning buyer has much to wade through. It’s daunting some times.
I am belatedly trying to find the beginning of the series. Enjoyed the back end. Now want to see the front end…neck shoulder.
The very first series is called “Long and the Short of It” part 1 – 3. Here is a link to the first page:
The second series focusing on the middle and front half of the horse is called “The Up and the Down of It”. Here is a link to the first page in this series:
The entire series usually falls under these two titles, with supplemental articles that don’t. Look through the timeline, google a bunch, and have fun learning!