Con­for­ma­tion Clinic

Aged AQHA mares.

Horse & Rider - - Contents -

I EVAL­U­ATE con­for­ma­tion by bal­ance, struc­ture, breed and sex char­ac­ter­is­tics, and muscling. Age and gen­der af­fect some of these qual­i­ties, and mares should be fem­i­nine through the head and neck, with the head re­flect­ing the breed. A horse should dis­play bal­ance and struc­tural cor­rect­ness to do a job and stay sound. Muscling needs to be ad­e­quate for what the horse will be used for.

When I first look at a class, over­all at­trac­tive­ness stands out. The horses that qual­ify as at­trac­tive at first glance are usu­ally those that are a good com­bi­na­tion of the four cat­e­gories. A poorly bal­anced or struc­turally in­cor­rect horse, even if at­trac­tive through the head and neck, usu­ally isn’t as at­trac­tive as a well-rounded, pos­i­tive com­bi­na­tion of the four qual­i­ties. I start my as­sess­ment at the shoul­der, as it has tremen­dous bear­ing on func­tion, bal­ance, and struc­ture, and in­flu­ences how the horse’s head and neck look as the neck at­taches to the body. I then move my eyes from head to tail, top to bot­tom, and work down front and hind limbs. Though I can’t walk around the horses here, I judge them the best I can from one side.

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