Friday, October 2, 2009

Good Confirmation in a Reining Horse

What Makes Good Confirmation in a Reining Horse? Or any horse?

(The picture on right gives a clue.... Can you tell? Answer below. Read on!)

I've been asked many times over the years to evaluate horses that might make a good reining horse. Or simply, asked for my opinion on what a horse would be most suited to do. I was asked to do that this week and thought I would share my ideas on conformation.

Stock Horses. Mainly Quarter Horses and Paints
Most horses that I look at are stock horses. Quarter horses and paints are used for many different events and both riding disciplines so the horses can range from a draft looking horse all the way to a sleek, fine race looking type.

If you are into confirmation like me, you enjoy any articles or programs that feature conformation examples. In the Horse&Rider magazine each month, I look at the conformation article and see if I can pick the order that the judge is asked to pick on best conformation. I get it every time! (Halter horses are a whole different story!)
Of course, I studied it in school as well. And it's something I do all the time when I see horses. I look at their confirmation to know their abilities. Just like I look at a horse's pedigree. It's something I check. (more on pedigrees in a moment).

Form to Function
Most people have heard of the 'Form to Function' concept. The horse has to be built to perform the job asked. It's truer the more the horse is asked to perform athletically.
The horse is able to do their job easily if they are built to do it. And importantly, we wouldn't want them to break down or become lame (or permenantly harmed) by performing their work.

If you have a look at websites and magazines or study in school ( then you will learn what makes good conformation. It's a good thing to know! 
Good leg alignment. Good bone. 'No foot. No horse!'
Body in proportion. Short back. Sloping croup. Low set tail. Big, kind eyes.
Clear throat latch. Low set hocks.
The horse is a great mover. The horse floats when they lope. Changes leads effortlessly.
There is a list that you can find in a lot of places on the Internet.

Exceptions to the Rule. Or are they?
Why does it seem like there are exceptions to the rule with regards to confirmation? A horse with a poor neck or poor front legs or a straight shoulder or long back can become greats! Why is that?

Why We Look At Pedigrees
To me, a horse has to be trainable. The horse has to have the temperament and willingness to learn. That's why we look at pedigrees. A horse with champions on their pedigree will give us some idea if the horse will be trainable (but not always). ie. Will be willing and have a kind temperament and disposition to learn and go on to be a great horse. (Pedigrees also tell us the bloodlines quite suited to the event we want to do and the conformation that works.) Looking at pedigrees just increases our odds.
All horses have SOMETHING about their confirmation that isn't IDEAL. No horse is perfect. So some horses can over come their flaws if they are trainable. They have the temperament and willingness to work with you. THEY GOT TRY.

I'm getting really tired of trying to train or start a horse who's belligerent or unwilling to learn. I had horses this year who sent me to emergency and I can't keep doing that if I want to keep training. I'm getting smarter (thankfully). I shipped the horse back home. Some other trainer has been able to work with them. Update: The horse eventually broke the owner's shoulder in 15 places. Ouch.

Finally, Horses Gotta Have Heart
The really great horses have HEART. Literally, they have a hugh heart. (If I find the article outlining the study, I will put the link in here).
The great horse's like Secretariat and Northern Dancer were found to have a hugh heart.
Metaphysically, the horses with a great, big, kind heart with tons and tons of try, make the best horse's.
Humankind is blessed to have them.
As for the above photo? We're you able to tell what I'm talking about? They have PRESENSE. You can see it in the eyes..... The magic and mystery found in the eyes. 'The eyes are the window to the soul.'

May you always have a horse with a big heart!

Any questions on conformation or an evaluation, please contact me.
©Copyright KISS Reiners

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