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.
Which Thoroughbred hunter 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.
12-year-old mare Thoroughbred DISCIPLINE: Hunters/Dressage
18-year-old gelding Thoroughbred Hunters DISCIPLINE:
5-year-old gelding Thoroughbred Hunters DISCIPLINE: