Con­for­ma­tion Clinic: Young Paint geld­ings.

Eval­u­ate the con­for­ma­tion of these 3- and 4-year-old APHA geld­ings and place them in your or­der of pref­er­ence. Then see how your choices match up with our ex­pert judge’s.

Horse & Rider - - Contents -

Bilke is a horse judge and breeder. He was raised in a farm­ing and ranch­ing fam­ily in Ok­la­homa, and later at­tended Ok­la­homa Pan­han­dle State Univer­sity where he com­pleted his B.S. in an­i­mal science while com­pet­ing on the rodeo and horse-judg­ing teams. He holds cards with APHA, PtHA, PHBA, AHA, and USEF, among oth­ers. He’s judged at na­tional and in­ter­na­tional events, in­clud­ing world shows and fu­tu­ri­ties. He also serves as the ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Pinto Horse As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica. Bilke re­sides in Ed­mond, Ok­la­homa, with his fam­ily.

Form to func­tion is im­por­tant when judg­ing a class of horses, and this starts with proper bal­ance, con­for­ma­tion, and breed char­ac­ter­is­tics. First, I like to look at a horse’s legs to en­sure that they’re all pointed in the same di­rec­tion. His legs are his foun­da­tion, so should be of good bone and straight. He shouldn’t be toed-out or “duck­footed” in ei­ther his front or hind legs.

I then as­sess a horse from front to back. His head should be ref ned and ex­hibit breed char­ac­ter­is­tics. A stock horse should have a large eye, short ears, and a pleas­ing prof le, ex­em­plifed by a straight nose and ref ned jaw. His throat­latch should be clean and tight. As well, his neck should be long and thin with a smooth, high tie-in at his well-sloped shoul­der. I think of the shoul­ders as be­ing like shocks in a car: A too up­right shoul­der will cause con­cus­sive move­ment, sim­i­lar to a car with­out good shocks. A shorter back with higher withers will be strong and ft a sad­dle prop­erly. His un­der­line should be longer than his topline, and he should have a pro­por­tion­ate, but large heart­girth for im­proved lung ca­pac­ity. A long, sloped croup with mus­cle that ties in low and to­ward his hock is best for a strong hind end. I don’t like to see a horse with a round rear that sticks far out be­hind his hocks. His hocks should be close to the ground for best ma­neu­ver­abil­ity and hind-end en­gage­ment. A long, well-sloped hip is also im­por­tant for reach. A horse should, with his hind leg, be able to reach and track di­rectly on top of or just be­hind his front foot­step. His pasterns shouldn’t be too long or straight, as these ab­sorb con­cus­sion. →

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