Con­for­ma­tion Clinic With Julie Winkel

Place these horses in your or­der of pref­er­ence. Then turn the page to see how your choices com­pare to sporthorse judge Julie Winkel’s.

Practical Horseman - - Contents - To learn about Julie’s eval­u­a­tion phi­los­o­phy and to see an ex­am­ple of how to best present your horse for this col­umn, visit www.Prac­ti­cal­Horse­man­

Which young prospect has the best con­for­ma­tion? Com­pare your plac­ings to our judge’s.

Whether judg­ing a model class, eval­u­at­ing a prospect for a client or siz­ing up the year­lings at home, I first stand back and look for an over­all im­pres­sion of bal­ance and sym­me­try. My ideal horse “fits” in a square box. By that, I mean he is de­fined by match­ing and equal parts, both front to back and side to side. This al­lows for ath­letic ability, sound­ness, train­abil­ity and longevity in the job.

A horse who fits in a box will have a body made up of one-third shoul­der, one-third back and one-third hindquar­ters. I like to see the withers and point of croup at the same level. The horse’s stance, from point of shoul­der to but­tock, should equal the dis­tance from the height of the withers to the ground.

I also al­ways look at the eyes be­cause I want to see a horse with clear, alert vi­sion. From the head, I move down the neck to the shoul­ders and along the back to the hind-end and leg con­struc­tion.

For jumpers, the em­pha­sis should be on hindquar­ters with a good length from the hip­bone to the point of the but­tock for power off the ground. For hun­ters, the em­pha­sis should be a level topline from ears to tail, a well-sloped shoul­der for fluid move­ment and ability to lift in the air. For dres­sage, a more up­right build and a shorter neck are de­sired.

Our win­ner this month fits the mold. He is bal­anced with a level topline and equal dis­tance from the top of his withers to the ground and from the point of the shoul­der to the point of his but­tock. His neck length is ideal, a third of his body length.

This geld­ing has a mel­low ex­pres­sion, but his eye and nos­tril are on the small side, though his mouth has good length. The head could be more de­fined but shows a nice at­tach­ment with a clean throat­latch.

92˚ He’s a bit ewe-necked with an overde­vel­oped un­der­side and un­de­vel­oped crest. How­ever, the neck ties in clean and high to the shoul­der to al­low free­dom of move­ment. His well-de­fined withers blend into the nice slope of his shoul­der.

His legs are clean with nice joint size. But he stands back at the knee, stress­ing ten­dons, lig­a­ments and joints. He has good pastern length and an­gles for shock ab­sorp­tion.

His cou­pling looks slightly weak over his loins, but his strong, pow­er­ful hindquar­ter, with the great length from sti­fle to hock, gives him good range of mo­tion to track un­der and pro­pel him­self for­ward.

Don’t let the rope hal­ter or this geld­ing’s color blind you, this is a nice horse.

Two is­sues jump out to me on our sec­ond-place geld­ing. First is how large his head ap­pears and sec­ond is his camped-out hind end.

His at­trac­tive head shows a beau­ti­ful, kind eye. It’s just too large in pro­por­tion to his body, caus­ing him to be out of bal­ance. The throat­latch ap­pears too small for suf­fi­cient air pas­sage. His neck is also more than a third of over­all body length, con­tribut­ing to front-end weight.

His shoul­der an­gle is more up­right than ideal as are his pasterns, pro­duc­ing a stiffer gait. The can­non bones and fore­arms are nearly the same length, re­duc­ing stride ef­fi­cien-

cy. He’s also tied-in be­hind the knee, where the ten­dons are nar­rower at the top. This cre­ates un­even load­ing and weak­ens ten­don strength.

Although he has a sub­stan­tial hindquar­ter, the pelvis-to-fe­mur an­gle is quite open, which results in the camped-out hind legs. This puts his power be­hind him, lim­it­ing range of mo­tion and propul­sion. Look closely on the left hind leg: The bump be­low the hock is a curb. This strain or tear of the plan­tar lig­a­ment is caused by faulty con­for­ma­tion.

This bay is hand­some, but sev­eral faults im­pact his ath­leti­cism and raise con­cerns for long-term sound­ness.

Our third geld­ing shows lit­tle sym­me­try in the way his parts fit to­gether. The re­sult­ing lack of bal­ance makes it dif­fi­cult to ride and train such a horse and for the horse to oblige.

Although he has a sweet eye and kind ex­pres­sion, a good length of mouth and large nos­trils for air in­take, his extreme Ro­man nose stands out. In con­trast, the pen­cilthin neck and very thin throat­latch don’t match his head or body.

He has good shoul­der an­gu­la­tion and length, though the withers are lower than his croup, shift­ing his bal­ance down­hill. His knees, fet­locks and hocks are ad­e­quate size for his body but the fore­arms lack muscling.

This horse’s hindquar­ter is un­usual. The equi­lat­eral tri­an­gle is quite off the mark, look­ing at the hip-to-sti­fle length, and will re­sult in an in­ef­fi­cient gait be­hind.

But the ma­jor fault of this geld­ing’s struc­ture is the bro­ken axis of the pasterns where they join the hoof. This puts tremen­dous strain on ten­dons, lig­a­ments, and bones; in this case, of all four legs.

I really ap­pre­ci­ate the braid­ing ef­fort, the nice hunter bri­dle and good pose that show at­ten­tion to de­tail and good horse­man­ship. How­ever, I put this horse in the guarded cat­e­gory in terms of fu­ture sound­ness.

3-year-old geld­ing Thor­ough­bred/ Ap­paloosa DIS­CI­PLINE: Event­ing/Dres­sage

3-year-old geld­ing Thor­ough­bred DIS­CI­PLINE: Event­ing

2-year-old geld­ing Hanove­rian DIS­CI­PLINE: Dres­sage/Jumpers

90˚ 3

93˚ 2

90˚ 90˚ 1

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