I am interested in what people have to say as well.
I had heard that sickle hocks make a better western eventing horse in general, but I was wondering what other characteristics are good too. Also not just for western, but maby like jumping, pulling, dressage, halter etc...
No, they don't. That's the perception, but it's not true. They're actually a serious fault, because they're weaker and more prone to lameness. They don't provide any better collection either, even though it seems like they should. But collection does not come just from the hocks just looking like they're further underneath the horse.
Thats good to know.
I would think a high stifle would be good to get going fast in the short distances: out the gate, between barrels and back? I dun know.
Jenks, I thought it was amazing in that hind end conformation clinic you sent me that the person doing the critique was looking at only the hind ends of those horses and was able to tell if they were gaited or not, and even which gaits they do.
I wonder if that person could do that outside the gaited breed? I mean, I know they could see what gaits it could do if gaited, but what exactly is it that makes em gaited I wonder?
Smaller size is and lower center of gravity is usually considered better for an agile horse, like the cutting and reining Quarter horses. But larger animals can be just as quick if they're built right - the Lusitano/Andalucian type horses are unbelieveably nimble. It's easy for them to get their hocks underneath them because they carry themselves naturally collected and "up" in the front end. I've never seen anything move like a good bull horse, and they do come in all breeds.
Longer, more sloping pasterns are favored for ground covering, comfortable striding, as in hunters and pleasure horses, whereas more upright pasterns are stronger and more shock absorbing, as in jumpers or carriage animals. But there is a very narrow window of acceptable range - too much one way or the other is a disaster.
A laid back shoulder has always been looked for in riding horses, and it provides a number of benefits; longer stride, better head carriage, stronger front end, better withers and topline. A straighter shoulder has traditionally been associated with carriage and pulling horses, for higher movement and because it holds a collar better. It is also said to associate with jumpers, as a tendency to pull the knees up is a good thing in getting over jumps.
The angulation of the arm with the shoulder is really what should set the stride though; even a very laid back shoulder with a tight arm will have a flat, restricted stride, whereas a straight shoulder with a very open arm can still have decent movement; a straight shoulder with a tight arm is never good, and there is also a very narrow range for being "straighter" in the shoulder. A truly straight shoulder is never acceptable, and in general it's better to be more laid back in all cases.
Very informative! Thanks!
You're welcome. There is lots more and lots of other people have thoughts on it as well. I'm a pretty big believer in the fact that good, basic conformation is universal, no matter the horse or discipline.