PracticalHorsemanmag.com - Full Article
Endurance competitor Dr. Michelle Roush explains what to look for in endurance horse conformation.
PRACTICALHORSEMANOCT 17, 2011
Question: I really enjoy your monthly Conformation Clinic column. The information is very useful when I work with and care for sporthorses, but I'd also like to know what endurance horse conformation and qualities I should look for when selecting a mount. Can you offer any suggestions?
Hat Trick LA is an example of an endurance horse with ideal conformation for the sport. The 10-year-old Arabian gelding with 600 lifetime American Endurance Ride Conference miles "is standing a little uphill in this photo, so it looks like he's leaning forward. On flat ground, he is quite square," says Dr. Roush. "I cannot fault his conformation. I might wish for his legs to be a tad longer, but that's splitting hairs." | Michelle Roush, DVM
Answer: In endurance, beauty is as beauty does. Horse conformation traits rewarded in the show-hunter ring for their aesthetic value mean nothing in endurance if they don't help the horse get down the trail. Arabians and part-?Arabians dominate the sport?for a variety of reasons I'll explain later?but I've seen horses of all shapes and sizes succeed in the sport. Most of them prove the rule that "form is function": Structurally correct horses are more likely to stay sound over the many miles of repetitive motion and concussion that the sport entails. Here are the most important structural qualities to look for.
1. Balance. All of the horse's body parts should flow together. His weight should be evenly distributed from front to back and top to bottom. The hindquarters, for example, should not be disproportionately larger than the shoulders?or vice versa. Nor should the front end be higher or lower than the hind end. The bone thickness should be consistent throughout the horse, as well. A thick-bodied horse supported by toothpick legs is going to get in trouble...
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