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Conformation Studies

Are there any actual studies that have been done to prove which conformation defects are more harmful and which are less so? I mean actual scientific studies... Even an engineering type analysis of bone structure would be helpful. Thanks, Daylene

Heather Sun, 04/12/2009 - 09:06

I doubt it , but here is the deal IMO...most of what we ask horses to do is above and beyond normal for them, while some might hold up better then others I dont think there is a perfect formula to keep them performers to the end no matter what. SO many factors come into play to keep a horse sound , perfect conformation or flawed, warm ups, cool downs, proper rest with a strain...and to me there is nothing wrong with doing hock injections, its all part of maintaining a smooth runnign machine. I guess being in with some cutters and reiners of recent no matter how perfect conformation might be on a certian animal that type of hard work is going to wear them down IMO. There was one mare that was used as a lesson horse at a cutting farm I rode at that was 28 years old, she had very clean legs and never lame, but she was not purty, but it couldbe the balding that was goin on with old age lol she was a daughter of colonel freckles.

Jenks Sun, 04/12/2009 - 09:18

There are studies that show the results on certain things. To my knowledge, there are none that compare them all to one another and say"this one is the worst". And what's worse for one discipline is not for another and there are studies on some of these individual things. Most are focal for one specific thing and most are on TBs. Some are short and sweet with little detail, but aid people in being able to tell earlier when they can judge the conformation of a TB by knowing when it's proportionately the same as it will be grown:…" onclick=";return false;

Here's one about hind legs…" onclick=";return false;

People seem to be slightly edgy over this. Everyone has to remember that certain disciplines use these flaws to their advantage. It's not always a horrible, detrimental flaw! Perhaps it needs to be stated better when pointing these things out, rather than saying "it's a flaw", say what it's best used for?

My paint mare is post legged. She's still sound, never injected and 24. Granted, I don't ride her every day, but she's a great horse. I'd buy her again and again.

Heather Sun, 04/12/2009 - 09:24

Yea, I think the term flaw is harsh since it might be useful in one venue over another... it suggests that its a dead end. :-??

lipigirl Sun, 04/12/2009 - 10:45

I know what you mean, there are quite a few Paso Finos including my mare who are slightly camped under - it seems to help them gait better - but if it's a conformational flaw then why do they live for so long and are great endurance horses - same with the Alke Teke - they have some of the worst conformation of any horse but they are hardy and great endurance horses. Lipizzaners have longer cannon bones - they are long lived and can do the most spectacular 'high school' dressage manouvers - we have to re-address what we think of as bad conformation ????????????????????

Jenks Sun, 04/12/2009 - 10:55

No I think it's more of an ideal, what would make the absolute best condition for a horse's body, and there is simply not a single one out there who is perfect. It's just something to give you a guide IMO.

Daylene Alford Sun, 04/12/2009 - 17:01

Lipi kind of hit where I've been wondering. What if much of what we think we know about conformation is more aesthetics rather than actual function? I have one conformation book where the author speaks of a horse having a great laid back shoulder and another horse as having a very upright shoulder. When I actually got the protractor out and measured the lines they where very close to the same angle. I've also read a conformation paper by a vet who states that in his opinion being back at the knee is not so bad. That it was more dependent on how badly the horse flexed backward with motion then how they stood when still and that some horses that stood back at the knee didn't necessarily move that way. He gave as an example a high level jumper that was back at the knee. So what really hurts and what is ok and how are we really supposed to know?

Jenks Mon, 04/13/2009 - 08:23

There are different studies by different people and most of the accepted complete studies done by doctors are in agreement. What it is though is what's best for the HORSE. What is going to cause the least amount of damage to the horse to be built in what way. Not for our disciplines. I go by Dr. Deb Bennett's studies. Most I've spoken to, vet's and breeders in my conformation group, agree that this study is the most accurate.

There is one conducted by Equine Research group that I'd like to check out just to see if it has any deviations.

lillith Mon, 05/18/2009 - 04:48

I'm not brilliant at judging conformation but I have read a couple of articles that say that the 45 degree angle they say is right for shoulders is almost never seen. I'll see if I can find them.