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Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Henry Lesson #3/Seeking Honest Conformation Thoughts

I actually got a few videos at this lesson but the arena was very dark (we are doing this new thing where we don't turn all the lights on...) so you can barely see anything :( 





So that kind of sucks!  I grabbed a few crappy stills (and lightened them a lot) from the video to break up the wall of text.  But the lesson went great :)





I attempted to polo wrap Henry for the first time before our lesson.  He stood nicely for me but the wonderful BOT polos I was given by a friend were incredibly loooonng.  I'm going to have to buy a shorter pair if I want to polo wrap him.... it looked like he had two giant stuffed animals on his legs when I was done (and I don't completely suck at polo wrapping, I used to work at a dressage barn after all!).





It was pouring rain outside so I set up a few poles for us to trot over inside.  If the weather was nice I was hoping we could try for a canter on the front lawn today (the footing is quite deep and somewhat uneven inside). 

I feel like both Henry and I are doing great with the forward button.  I'm more clear and organized and he's much more responsive. The steering is improving too.  Our big homework this week is practicing our walk/trot transitions.



I am really enjoying lessons from ST, she is super positive about me and Henry and also gives us great homework.  She said something at my lesson today and I didn't quite know how to take it.... So I welcome opinions from blogland on if I'm being ridiculous or not.

The conversation went a bit like this:


ST:  I think he would make quite a nice dressage horse.

Kate:  Well I think both of his grand sires competed at a fairly high level of eventing, so they would have to have some decent dressage skills haha.

ST:  No horse is perfect conformation-wise and if I had to pick out some flaws on Henry I would say he's a bit behind at the knee and his shoulder angle is a bit upright.  

Kate:  Okay good to know, I don't have a great eye for that stuff.

ST:  I do have a friend who does the 1.30m on a horse that's behind at the knee though.


I joked that we weren't going to the Olympics (but also true haha) so he doesn't exactly need to be perfect.  She also mentioned another horse (that I know of) who has very bad conformation but is quite successful and has a lovely temperament.  




I just took it at face value at the time but for some reason it got stuck in my brain and has been rolling around in there for a while.   I dunno, I sort of felt like she was telling me that Henry didn't have the right conformation to be a jumper.  


I read a bit about horses being back at the knee and found this photo and quote from this website (http://www.horseinfo.com/info/faqs/faqconformQ4.html)



Calf kneed (back at knee)

The knee curves backward.  Produces strain on tendons, bones and ligaments.  Knee chips and bowed tendons are the result of calf knees.




So I invite your thoughts!  What do you think of Henry's conformation?  Be honest :)  I always liked his shoulder and front end (but what the hell do I know)... I found him a bit straight behind as the only flaw.  But I'm happy to receive other thoughts and opinions. 


These are the most recent photos of him somewhat standing somewhat square for reference :)






Thoughts? :)

Also make sure to submit your "between the ears" photos for my upcoming contest!  Info here!

25 comments:

  1. I'm no expert either, but his shoulder angle looks pretty ideal to me. Lovely hip too!

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    1. Aw thank you! I am totally barn blind and think he's he most handsome horse ever haha :)

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  2. Can't help with this either. Hopeless at conformation. Attitude & performance are more important than looks. I had a conformation "expert" pick apart my first horse and then tell me, 'He shouldn't move as well as he does.' Mmmmfff! The world is full of gorgeous non-performers sitting on their metaphorical butts and plucky little triers competing where they "shouldn't" be. Hmmmff. ... Stepping down from soapbox ...

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    1. I totally agree that attitude and performance are more important, especially attitude (as the bar is set pretty low for performance in my world...ie crossrails haha). I'm hoping that none of Henry's flaws lead us to injuries/soundness issues but even "perfect" horses can still get hurt.

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  3. Glad to hear that the lessons are working out well for you :)

    For conformation, please take everything I say with a giant grain of salt as I'm no conformation expert, but this is what I see:
    If I'm trying to be picky, the things that I would say is that his croup and hip have a flatter angle, and his front pasterns look a bit on the long and skinny side (but have a nice angle). Being back at the knee and an upright shoulder aren't things that jump out at me, but as you mention them I can kind of see what she's talking about.
    However, I want to emphasize that all of these things are slight and far from extreme. When I look at Henry, the general picture I see is one of a well balanced, well put together horse. In my experience, if you analyze the conformation of any horse in detail, you will always find something that isn't great, but as long as the general picture is one that looks generally horse-like, then you're probably good for low to mid levels of most equestrian sports. The bigger problems come with those horses that do have more extreme problems, the ones that you look at and can tell from first glance that something just looks off.
    Also, as I'm sure you know, conformation is just one piece of the puzzle, how a horse moves and what their temperament is also have a huge impact on how successful they are (I know movement and conformation can be linked, but you also see horses with nicer or worse movement than their appearance would suggest).

    Hope that helps? You guys are looking good so don't stop what you're doing :-)

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    1. Also, just looking at your trainer's words again, she said "No horse is perfect conformation-wise and if I had to pick out some flaws on Henry I would say...". I think you should just take that at face value. She's not saying Henry has bad conformation, just pointing out some minor things that she sees, probably more so that you can be aware of them to train accordingly (considering what things will be naturally easier or harder for him), not telling you that he's incapable of anything.

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    2. Thank you so much! Those are good things to know. I really have a hard time honestly assessing my own horses. That helps me a lot! :) Yeah I think I just took my trainer's thoughts a bit more seriously than she meant them, I think she meant more casually observations to be aware of. Just threw me off-guard a bit! Thanks again :)

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  4. Personally I worry more about them being over the knee than back. Over the knee can lead to buckling and tripping, where as back at the knee seems less likely. I'm no conformation expert either though. I think a good attitude and heart win over conformation every single time though. And from what it sounds like, Henry has both of those going for him.
    Also, for the polos, I got some new ones for Romey that were way too long. I just cut them. The fleece won't unravel or anything. I took oen that I knew fit him well and used it as a guide for the too long pair.

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    1. Cutting the polos is a great idea! I think I might leave the BOTs as is and use them on Apollo but I bought two new pairs today ("horse" sized) and I think I may need to trim them. I have no idea why I didn't think of that. Henry definitely has a good attitude, I feel like he tries really hard to do the right thing :)

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  5. He is slightly behind at the knee and his neck is slightly upright, but I don't think it is a deal breaker for jumping at all. Plus, neither one is glaring or horrible, just very slight. You can have a horse with near perfect conformation and they can have lameness problems, so I don't get too hung up on that. I don't think she was being critical or trying to tell you he is incapable of doing a certain discipline. Plus, he's so young and will probably keep changing and growing anyway! :-)

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    1. Ok that makes me feel better (that they are more slight faults rather than extreme)! I am totally the most barn blind human alive. I"m curious to see how he looks when he's maybe 6 or so, once he's finally done growing! :)

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  6. i know basically nothing about conformation except that no horse is actually perfect and every horse can be picked apart. aside from some more extreme flaws, really the most important detail is over all balance. that all the parts work well together to produce a correct way of going.

    depending on your goals i really wouldn't worry about Henry's suitability or limitations. it's my (decidedly non-expert opinion) that most horses can handle 2'6-3' jumping and 3rd level dressage barring an actual limiting injury.

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    1. Yeah I feel like he can manage those things no problem! I guess if any lameness/injury stuff comes up we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I am way better at looking at conformation on other people's horses, but looking at mine is a challenge for some reason.

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  7. I don't think the trainer was being mean or anything especially since she couched what she said with an example where the conformation didn't affect the horses job. It is something to consider as you move forward with training and showing though, as with everything else.

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    1. I think you're right! I didn't take it as mean/otherwise in the moment but for some reason my brain starting to think afterwards... "Maybe I shouldn't ever jump him? Is that what she meant?". My brain cannot be trusted haha. But yes definitely something to keep in mind and monitor (as he's still growing a bit).

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  8. I agree with what people said above. I don't see anything glaring and if you look hard enough at any horse you can find something. And I also think that horses with correct training and a good brain can easily do the lower levels.

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    1. Yeah definitely. I am feeling a lot better about it now! Lower levels is plenty high enough competition for me :)

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  9. I think he looks like a nice, athletic baby! You should look at conformation photos of some of the top horses in jumping, eventing, dressage, etc. I'm thinking you'll be able to pick out flaws in almost every one...yet there they are, at the top of the sport :) Pippa Funnels training the young event horse book comes to mind, she does a little confo critique on all her top horses at the time and it's quite interesting.

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    1. Aw thank you! :) I will have to check that book out. It's nice to have examples on real horses rather than cartoons/drawings (which are usually showing the extreme/severe version of a flaw).

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  10. I agree with the comments above. He's overall balanced and the flaws are minor. They're good to keep in mind for training purposes so you can help him develop to be the strongest he possibly can in all sports!

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    1. Thank you! It's definitely good to keep some "weak" spots in mind but I'm happy that a few people find him generally well-balanced haha :)

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  11. I also agree with the comments above. Henry is a wonderful horse with a great attitude and you should just have fun with him. No horse is perfect and no human is perfect either, yet the ones that have the desire to achieve their goals do.

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    1. He has a great attitude for sure! I don't think we'll have any issues meeting my goals for us :)

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  12. I second/third/fourth all the comments about brains and heart over conformation (: If you've got a willing, game, and sound horse the sky is the limit!

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