Arabian Saddlebred - Conformation Issues - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-20-2014, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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Arabian Saddlebred - Conformation Issues

Hey everyone,

I recently acquired a part bred Arabian Saddlebred cross from a friend. Let me tell you, I am absolutely loving her to death. Her movements are fluid and she has a canter you can sleep on. Nice impulsion on her trots. Just a beautiful mover.

Despite all this though, I would like some conformation critique on her because I'm not really well versed with the breeds.

I always heard Saddlebreds and Arabians are bad for the sway back and I'm wondering if it is starting in her, or if it's just a high-withers and high-croup thing. I am also fairly certain she is long-backed, although when I put my western saddle on her it goes right up to her croup.

Her topline is also not what I'm used to. I previously owned two QHs who had muscular, short backs. Her spine is a bit bonier, not because she is underweight but I assume it's because she doesn't have enough muscle in her back. Arab/Saddlebreds are known for their high head carriage and so tend to travel more hollow than other horses. I am hoping when I get her back into hunter flat in September her muscles will develop more.

She has what appears to be a hunter's bump as well.

She may also be slightly sickle hocked, but I took these pictures right after she had her feet done so I may not jump to that quite yet.

Either way, I would LOVE for you guys to tell me what you think about her.

Things to note:
- she is an Arabian Saddlebred cross. She is a finer boned breed with a higher head carriage
- she is 11 years old, never foaled
- she is not lame is has absolutely no issues moving at any gait; she is as smooth as peanut butter
- she is a bit out of shape


(I realize some images are not conformation ideal but I wanted to get shots of her at all the angles possible)

And finally, the hunter's bump:

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post #2 of 11 Old 08-20-2014, 01:59 PM
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If that is her in your avatar you guys look AMAZING undersaddle. You're doing a lot of things right!

Saddlebreds (although I've never heard this for arabians, doesn't mean it doesn't happen) tend to have longer, weak backs. They also tend to be ridden in a style that does not strengthen the back and leads to muscle atrophy and the sway back.

I think your horse's back is long, and could use more muscle. There is a definite lack of substance in the lumbar region, and over the top line in general. However in your avatar pic (I'm assuming its her) she is reaching very well with her hind and is well rounded. Continue to ride this way and her top line can do nothing but improve :)

She is a tad sickle hocked, but it's very slight.

As for the saddle fitting her- its crucial to get a proper fitting saddle. The bars should never extend past the last rib. Even on a long-backed horse, sometimes you can have a too-long saddle that puts pressure directly on the lumbar spine because there are no ribs to take the pressure off. The general rule of thumb is the saddle should not go past the line where the hair converges downward.

"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." -- Albert Einstein
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post #3 of 11 Old 08-20-2014, 02:00 PM
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I see very croup high, long back, weak top line. Not overly sickle shocked. I don't see a hunters bump, just lack of muscling that ties into the weak top line and a short steep croup. She is beautiful, I might add.
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post #4 of 11 Old 08-20-2014, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone, it's good to know I'm pretty on par with this.

I am well aware of her horrible topline. She is definitely out of shape. Luckily for her, she is going to be a lesson horse in September. Time to get her work on!

From what I understand, Saddlebreds in general are bad for being long-backed. I guess it can't be helped. It's unfortunate because it leads to a large amount of sway backed horses in the breed (just did some reading up on this a few weeks ago).

Thanks disastercupcake! She is gorgeous, truly a fantastic mover. I could ride her canter all day. So smooth.

I do not ride saddle seat (most National Show Horses are), so she has plenty of opportunities to ride in a nice collected frame and really get under herself. We will be doing hunter flat so this should help. She was trained and shown hunter flat so she already has a good foundation.
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post #5 of 11 Old 08-20-2014, 03:10 PM
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I feel like most of those pictures are at angles that make her flaws look worse than they are. The 2nd and 3rd to last pictures she looks like a very pretty girl. She'll probably just always need lots of topline work (my Saddlebred cross does too), but in general I think she's a nice little horse.
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post #6 of 11 Old 08-26-2014, 01:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you :) I am going to take more pictures once I start her in lessons, hopefully her topline improves.
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-26-2014, 01:35 PM
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Those crosses here are called National Show horses. NSH.
Most of them I have seen are long backed.
I agree she has some hind issues, but is very pretty.
She looks like she would have some very smooth gaits.
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post #8 of 11 Old 08-26-2014, 01:37 PM
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the long back is part of the cushy ride.
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post #9 of 11 Old 08-26-2014, 02:51 PM
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She's so much like my mare Looby - I don't have an breeding info for her but I'm sure she's also an Arabian x saddlebred
My mare is also long backed - I rode a couple of that cross a few years ago and they mostly all were. Her topline improved enormously when she put on weight and condition and that 'jumpers bump' thing disappeared so I'm sure yours will too
I have to say that even long backed my one is amazingly well balanced and agile and can come right together with no trouble at all - and she is so comfortable too
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-13-2014, 01:31 PM Thread Starter
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It's so strange, I always hear that horses with long backs have horrible gaits and don't know how to collect. Tell that to my mare - she is seriously the smoothest ride I have ever seen and can collect up nicely when I ask. It's probably because she takes longer strides due to her longer back.

I have been doing a lot of poking around the internet too. So many Saddlebreds seem to have topline issues - not all of them of course, but quite a good number. They must struggle because of the high head carriage and genetically longer backs, but I'm no expert.

I know that she is a NSH, but some people don't know what an NSH is. I figured it might be easier for people to pick apart Arabian and Saddlebred confirmation similarities by mentioning it this way.

These horses are often used for Saddleseat, which seems so strange to me considering the breed is known for having long backs and sway back issues - why would you ride a horse with these breed issues in a discipline that will only make it worse? (FYI, I do not tide Saddleseat and never would with this mare!)
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