On Hooves we openly discuss the good, the bad and the ugly in the equine world. The hope is to learn and then do better. There is a strong emphasis on conformation and biomechanics, and how that directly relates to training ease or difficulty.
Yes, I am available for hire for evaluations, assessments, consultations etc… If you have a simple/general question, I am happy to answer free of charge, but for anything more in depth I do charge for my time, knowledge and experience. Thanks in advance for understanding.
So glad you have your own blog Mercedes. You have so much knowledge to share.
Thank you, you’re too kind. Please participate freely.
this is brilliant and I’m trying to figure out how to participate. We’ll see if this does it.
Hopefully you’ve come back to check if your comment is up. The first post requires it to be approved before showing up so prevent spam. Your comments should now appear automatically. We all look forward to another point of view.
Also meant to say I am so enjoying reading and learning about a horse’s confirmation. Been having fun measuring away. Thanks for blogging!
Hi Mercedes – have been looking for your email address to submit a photo that I thought you might find interesting, but can’t find anything. I’m sure I could see it before. Cheers, Kristy
All things blog related can be sent to:
I realise you have a standardised way of measuring these horses to compare them. Do you have a diagram with a complete set of the parameters you measure?
The best source of standardized measurement is Dr. Deb Bennett’s three volume series: Principles of Conformation Analysis.
How do we post photos? I can’t find a FAQ on this on the blog. It looks like people like to photobucket? Or any other website that the photos are on?
You have to put your pictures somewhere on the Internet and then simply link to them. Photobucket, Flickr etc… There are a number of free photo hosting websites, just Google and pick one.
I’ve been looking at photos on horses for sale on Equine Now, just to practice looking at conformation. Can you tell much about correct conformation from an action photo? Not a movie, but a photo of a horse at the trot or canter? Does it throw off all the angles I’ve been learning about or do they stay the same even in action?
An action shot will tell you certain things, but you really want a proper conformation shot and preferably proper front, rear and overhead conformation shots as well.
Could you give me a critique about my old horse’s conformation? I don’t own him anymore and I don’t know his breeding because he was rescued at a rodeo (owners didn’t hand over papers). I’m wondering if by his looks if he is pretty well bred.
Hi – Just wanted to let you know that you have a great blog. I love how you use actual pictures instead of drawings or just descriptions – it really makes a difference in helping to see the subtle differences between horses.
Could you do a post on the bio mechanics and challenges of collecting a horse with poor conformation, especially with a low set neck and/or downhill build? Is it even possible to experience true collection in this case? I think this would be really helpful, as it seems that a majority of *average* horses have these types of faults.
Hi there, you have one of the best blogs I’ve read. You explain things in great depth in a very understandable way. I have a question for you… I have battled with back pain on my horse for the past year. I do dressage with her, and she is in training with a GP level trainer to ensure she uses herself correctly to minimize this pain. I had to inject her back and sacral joint last year to relieve the pain… The dressage and the injections have helped with the back, but I also would love to get an assessment on her conformation (similar to the ones you’ve done in the past), because I think this is the main cause of the back pain. If I send you some pictures, would you be willing to do this?
Thanks for the kind words. I’m always happy to hear that others are getting something from the blog. I can do an assessment for you, Katy, but I do charge for the service. You can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Mercedes – I met your mom the other day at our Aquafit class and she gave me your blog page – this is really great. I will share with all my horse friends. Thanks
Hey Joanne! Yep, she told me she’d been talking with you and shared the addy. Hope you find the blog useful.
I really enjoy your conformation articles because it gives us a realistic interpretation of how to train our horses. As a former athlete myself, I’m working with a Belgian draft to understand the classical mechanisms of dressage in hopes of competing some day with a future horse.
For a Belgian, Rex likes to “work” and can be forward on his good days. He was sedentary his whole life–my mother mainly trial rode in a walk–but had a spirit that was different than your average “gentle giant” draft; I took him over last year as a project. We started off all wrong–you know the trainer who sells you the perfect scenario because you and the horse are green… Anyhow, long story short, I began researching the fundamentals of classic dressage and began to encourage our training from that perspective–instead of the ridiculousness taught to me in the few months of training.
I’m reaching out to you because I’d like to ask for your opinion on his conformation and if it’ll be difficult to get him off his forehand. I’m sick of watching all the trainers school their students with horses severely on the forehand. Can I send you a photograph of Rex for your advice? You have no idea how much I’d appreciate it!
Hi Stella; We can discuss via e-mail: email@example.com
Hi there. Not sure if this blog is still active. I’ve been studying conformation in relation to movement/function. I’ve been trying to find info on shoulder and hip confirmation. Specifically how the slope of the scapula, the angle of the scapula/humerus joint, and the length of the scapula and humerus all affect movement. Likewise with the hip. Given those measurements can you accurately predict movement type given ideal conditions.
Though I have not added any new articles in over a year, I still check in regularly. At some point in time I will likely return. To your question, there are a number of articles on the blog that address this specifically. My suggestion is that you read the conformation series that follows 6 horses. All the articles are archived. Starting in March 2013 this is the first posting: https://hoovesblog.com/2013/03/20/the-long-and-short-of-it-part-1-hippelvis/ There is a second article in March, then a third in April and so on. Most are titled with key words long and short, or up and down to help you find them, but there aren’t so many articles in between that you could just simply scroll down a specific month of archived articles and find them quickly.
Thank you! I’ll check them out. On your recommendation to someone else I’ve also ordered deb Bennett three part series on conformation. Hopefully that will help as well 🙂
(I’m also emailing , in case you check one and not the other)
Hello, I’ve been pouring over your blog for the past couple days, and I’ve seen you mention engagement of the horse several times, including in your post “The Long and the Short of It; Part 2a” where you say “This is where I tell you to read a certain one hundred page book on skeletal, ligamental and muscular anatomy, center of gravity, the ‘ring of muscles’, how the horse must be ridden to counter this physical weakness, why it so often goes wrong, blah, blah, blah.” What is this book, and do you have any other book or article recommendations for engaging the horse?
It would also be great if you could give your opinion on this book? http://www.happy-horse-training.com/how-to-ride-a-horse.html
Also, does it seem that their horses are engaged? I don’t want to buy a book that promotes something that doesn’t actually help the horse with engagement.
Photo gallery: http://www.happy-horse-training.com/gallery.html
Youtube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-O7Rl88xwQ
Thank you so much,
I was just corrected to your blog by my sister and want to thank you for sharing. Nice to know others out there are thinking along the same lines my sister and I do. I wondered, have you heard of will faerber from art2ride? They have many interesting videos on YouTube and strongly advocate the classical system. Thought you might be interested.
*directed, not corrected!
Happy to hear you and your sister have found the blog. Yes, I’ve heard of Will Faerber but haven’t spent much time reading or viewing his videos. I will consider doing so now. So, thanks!
“About doesn’t say anything about who you are. I gather from the responses your name is Mercedes, but as some one who Google search stumbled into your blog, I’d love to know more…
I hope you are well. I wanted to leave a comment to say how appreciative I am of this blog. I find myself here about once a year or so to refresh my conformation knowledge and never fail to find something new to think on. You created an amazing resource and I hope to see new posts again from you one day!
Thanks for the note, Danielle! So glad you are still finding useful bits of information now and again. Perhaps one day I’ll get back to it. Stay safe and healthy!
I just found your blog. I am a western rider, who has recently become far more interested in how my horses moves, what causes soundness issues, what makes a horse better able to perform their particular job. So far i have read part 2 shoulder angle and humerus and 2 of your topline posts. I love how you have pictures; that are drawn on and with descriptions. I really appreciate your informative blog and look forward to reading more. Thank you!
So glad you’ve found the blog and hope it’s helpful for you and your horse.
I am still working thru your blog. But i have seen you mention correct and incorrect and also possible pathological muscling patterns in some of the horses. Do you have a recommend course of study for this? I.E. books, articles, courses that would help me to further understanding these patterns when looking at horses. I understand that correct dressage riding can obtain correct muscling. but would like to know further what correct and incorrect muscling looks like and the causes. I could take lessons from the one dressage instructor I know of in my area. But without knowing more about correct muscling and correct dressage riding, I would not know if this instructor is teaching correct riding for the horse or for the current fashion ( which I gather may be more harmful than good). I hope my request makes sense.
The three book series (older editions) – new edition is just one book I believe – Principles of Conformation Analysis by Dr. Deb Bennett is a good place to start. The books aren’t geared specifically to muscle patterns, but discuss what engagement really is, how it’s really achieved and what it leads to, as well as what incorrect riding looks like and leads to. There are references and pictures that discuss some of muscle patterns. You’ll easily be able to identify a horse that regularly travels hollow vs one that doesn’t when you’re done the book/s. You’ll also start to see ‘mixed-message’ muscle patterns.
It is a dilemma to know if the person instructing is passing on correct information or incorrect. And even when you know it’s incorrect, it can be hard to not self-doubt when someone of supposed greater experience is telling you otherwise.
Over several decades, I unfortunately would say that 95% out there is incorrect to varying degrees. I was fortunate to have my early mentors be of the 5% group. Regardless, don’t get discouraged and believe in yourself. Having another set of eyes on the ground is very valuable, even if what comes out of the mouth doesn’t jive.
Something to think about, if you and your horse are not advancing at a slow but steady pace, if you have put in the effort but you or your horse are struggling with the same issues, then something isn’t right no matter what you’re being told. It can take years to advance, but there has to be steady improvement. Look back 6 months, 12 months, 2 years – is there a difference? Good? Or bad? Of course if you are only riding your horse once a week, aren’t spending at least a few days a week working on the ground, then the issue might be a lack of commitment on your part but you should still be seeing progress. If after 5 years of instruction your horse is still running out/refusing fences/at training level or the like, consider moving on. I actively have pushed students onto others. If a coach/trainer/instructor is coveting clients, that’s a bad sign. They should be teaching what they know and then encouraging the student out the door to learn other lessons from other people.
Sorry for the ramble.
Are you still active? I see this blog is quite old now!
Still around Liz, just haven’t written any new articles.
I’m interested in the possibility of you doing some analysis on a filly i’ve just bought. What is the best way to contact you about it?
I can be reached at the blog’s email addy: firstname.lastname@example.org
I came across your blog and eventough i am a bit late to find it 🙈 I am very much enjoying it!
Would love to know your instagram, website or more about you 🙏🏻
Kind regards, Simone (Salty Cowboy Bali Stable)
Glad you’re enjoying the blog articles. I do not have an Instagram account, website or the like.