Sandy Curl

Eval­u­ate and place th­ese per­for­mance Paint geld­ings. Then see how your choices com­pare to our ex­pert judge’s.

Horse & Rider - - Practice Pen Conformation Clinic - Horse­andRider.com.

Curl started judg­ing in 4- H. Af­ter her suc­cess as a youth at state- and na­tional- level events, she was hired to judge lo­cal shows. She’s made a ca­reer of it, hold­ing cards with AQHA, APHA, NSBA, PtHA, ApHC, and PHBA, among oth­ers. Curl has judged at na­tional and in­ter­na­tional world shows, and other pre­mier events.

She and her sis­ter own a board­ing fa­cil­ity where she teaches multi-dis­ci­pline rid­ing lessons. Curl is a 4-H team coach; her hus­band is a far­rier; and her daugh­ter, Shan­non, trains horses. Curl says she “has the per­fect life.” She en­joys judg­ing great horses, meet­ing new peo­ple, and trav­el­ing.

Iassess bal­ance and qual­ity fi rst, but I also look at the flow of the en­tire pic­ture. There are three es­sen­tial char­ac­ter­is­tics: bal­ance, smooth­ness and flow, and gen­der-/ breed-spe­cific traits.

Good bal­ance means the length of a horse’s neck, back, and hip are all equal. The neck should tie into the shoul­der high. The throat­latch should be clean and thin to al­low the horse to flex eas­ily at the poll. A well-sloped shoul­der, with close to a 45-de­gree an­gle, can swing for­ward to max­i­mize front-leg reach. Shoul­der an­gle should match the pasterns’ an­gle to ab­sorb con­cus­sion. Too-steep shoul­ders and pasterns al­low less free­dom of move­ment. A horse should have prom­i­nent withers for best sad­dle fit and ride­abil­ity. A strong, short back is also a must. Lack of back strength will cause a horse to break down over time, and col­lec­tion will be dif­fi­cult. The hips are a horse’s driv­ing force that bring his hocks far for­ward. The knee-to-hock align­ment should be level. An un­level horse is al­ways go­ing to travel down­hill and will be heav­ier on the front end.

Aes­thet­i­cally, a horse should be pleas­ing. The head should be pro­por­tion­ate to the body. Muscling and gen­der char­ac­ter­is­tics are the least im­por­tant, but nev­er­the­less, a horse should have ad­e­quate muscling to move and carry it­self well. →

To sub­mit a photo of your horse to be eval­u­ated in Con­for­ma­tion Clinic, send us a left-side pro­file photo of your horse (for dig­i­tal pho­tos: high- res­o­lu­tion, 300 dpi, in at least 3" x 5") to with your con­tact info and your horse’s breed, age, gen­der, and height. (We welcome all breeds!) Visit for ad­di­tional in­struc­tions.

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