Conformation Clinic: Performance Quarter Horse mares.
Evaluate and place these Quarter Horse mares. Then see how your choices compare to our expert judge’s.
Karen McCuistion and her husband, Carl, train from their McCuistion Quarter Horses in Wilson, Oklahoma, and focus on roping, reining, working cow horse, and ranch riding disciplines. Karen earned her NRHA judge’s card in 1989 and has since added NRCHA, NSBA, AQHA, APHA, PHBA, USEF, and FEI reining cards. She judges at about 30 shows per year and has presided at the AQHA, APHA, and PHBA World Shows several times. She’s also judged in 22 countries on five continents.
Overall balance is the first and main thing I look for when judging conformation. A stock-type horse needs to show both adequate muscling to be capable and strong, but also show refinement. I don’t care for overdone muscling—so much mass that it actually restricts freedom of movement. A horse should appear to be functional as a performance horse if that’s what she’s called upon to do. She should move lightly, rather than pound the ground, and cover as much ground as her structural angles allow. Structural correctness is also important, and I watch for any defects that can affect soundness. I like a horse to show quality of movement in her way of going, and to see that she tracks straight and clean in her strides. I want to see good, solid bone structure through the legs, and some refinement through the head and neck. Beyond balance and structural correctness, a winning horse should have eye appeal, too. Good breed characteristics make a horse stand out in a crowd. →
For a more detailed guide that’ll help you master Conformation Clinic, see “Decoding Conformation Clinic” at C