Can you KNOW what kind of conformation a young horse will have when they mature?

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Can you KNOW what kind of conformation a young horse will have when they mature?

This is a discussion on Can you KNOW what kind of conformation a young horse will have when they mature? within the Horse Conformation Critique forums, part of the Horse Breeds, Breeding, and Genetics category
  • Can you change the conformation of the horse
  • Young horses with good conformation

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    01-14-2012, 04:28 PM
Green Broke
Question Can you KNOW what kind of conformation a young horse will have when they mature?

I would really like to know if there is any way at all to know how a horse will look when they are mature while they are young.

I can give some photo reference of two of the horses that my family had bred and raised for examples of my question. The first is a mare, her dam is mostly arabian with a little bit of saddlebred. The sire is a registered, foundation type quarter horse.

As a foal, June 1988

Princess June 1988.jpg

Then as an adult, May 2005

Princess May 2005.jpg

Is there any way to have known that she was going to have a long swayed back (way more than other horses I have seen on this forum), bad angles all around, rough gaits, and the list goes on. Is there something I am not seeing in her baby picture that would have alerted us that she wasn't going to be a joyous ride? (although, her gaits are almost smooth if you know how to get her to collect :roll:)

Now, I can imagine it can be difficult to judge a foal, but what about a yearling?

This is a 14 month old gelding. His dam is a quarab (same quarter horse sire the the bay mare above), and his sire is a registered arabian.

He looks so downhill that you cannot imagine that he would be good for anything more than a pasture pet

Diga 1997.jpg

Then at 9 years old (ground is nearly level)

Diga May 2005.jpg

Would there be any indicators that he was going to correct, and his front end would nearly catch up to the back end when you look at him as a yearling?

Thank you
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    01-14-2012, 04:58 PM
There is an old saying that you should look at a foal a 3 days, 3 months, and 3 years, any other time than that will be an inaccurate view of them. Yearlings are notorious for being downright fugly at times.

An experienced eye can look at a foal and see the potential of the mature horse...most of the time. Of course there will be surprises, like your mare. I see nothing in the foal picture that foretells of lordosis in her future, but with something like that, if it isn't present at foaling, it develops later in life so there would have been no sign of it as a foal. The "bad angles" that you are talking about are the ones that have been directly affected by the lordosis. If her back had been normal, then I'm confident her angles would have been good. She probably would have still be slightly long in the back, but nothing major.

As for the rough gaits, that could be due to the swayback, or it could be from her breeding. None of those breeds are particularly well known for soft, easy, smooth gaits LOL.
csimkunas6 and SunnyDraco like this.
    01-14-2012, 08:24 PM
Green Broke
She always had bad gaits before her back ever swayed. The angle of her shoulder prevents her from stretching forward and her legs move like pistons up and down, her trot is only bareable in a slow jog which took years to teach her. She is also incapable of really jumping, might half jump an obstacle but it is rare to get a full jump.

Neither of the mare's parents had bad conformation, or swayed backs (her dam was not of excellent conformation, was it wasn't terrible). Her sire had classic stocky quarter horse conformation and build. We later bred two other mares twice to him and their foals were of nice looking build and conformation (she was the only foal out of her dam).

I think her back may have swayed as an 8 year old when she was heavy with her one and only foal. Her filly also had a long back, but it has stayed straight, and she has much better movement than her dam (but the sire had really nice movement that he threw into his foals). I really have no idea why my mom had insisted in breeding her aweful moving mare, but alas, the baby mostly lucked out.

For many, many years my dad believed he was a bad rider, because he was getting bounced around all the time while everyone else on the trail was "floating" along. The problem wasn't him, it was because of the bay mare he faithfully rode. My mom proved it finally on one trail ride by switching horses with him, and got him to ride his mare's half brother (same qh sire). He was amazed by how smooth the gelding was at the trot and canter, and said that he could ride his gaits all day long. So after that experience, he switched to riding the gelding's full sister (also the mother of the bay gelding pictured above) until the fateful day that she had some sort of injury that caused her to go lame. Then he went back to the rough riding bay mare, as she had brains in her head and the smooth as butter gelding was certainly missing something that affected his function to reliable LOL
    01-14-2012, 08:35 PM
LOL, gotta love those rough traveling horses. Good news is though, if you can learn to sit them and make it look good, you can ride just about anything and make it look amazing.

Yeah, I don't know what it is that causes lordosis, whether it's some genetic thing or whether it has an environmental factor, or maybe it's a combination of both.
SunnyDraco likes this.
    01-14-2012, 08:46 PM
Green Broke
The 9 year old gelding is a hunk! I love him!

I don't know about the sway back either, but it seems like I've heard it is common is Saddlebreds. Although why she would get that one negative trait when she has a lot of other blood in her I have no idea. Maybe it's just a coincidence.
    01-14-2012, 08:46 PM
Usually what you have at a few days conformation wise.. is what you will have at 3 years with correct nutrition etc. obviously there are outliers.
    01-14-2012, 08:51 PM
Originally Posted by GhostwindAppaloosa    
usually what you have at a few days conformation wise.. is what you will have at 3 years with correct nutrition etc. obviously there are outliers.
Unfortunately we don't all get the luxury of seeing them at three days...One reason it's easier to buy a grown animal x.x
    01-14-2012, 08:56 PM
Yeah, and a funny thing about nutrition too, it can totally change the looks of a horse just within a fairly small amount of time.

When I brought Dobe home, he weighed maybe 700 and was nothing but a big clunky head, big hairy feet, and a little, narrow, blown out looking body. And that was when he was a 3 year old stud .

Then a couple of years later with good feed and solid work, he put on 300 pounds or so and had the looks of a decent quarter horse (minus the average conformational faults, of course).
    01-14-2012, 09:33 PM
Angles of the bones don't change (i.e. Shoulders, croup, etc) but length does :) that's what I've been told and it's held true for all the foals we've had. :)
    01-14-2012, 09:51 PM
Lardosis, it shows more frequently in horses of saddlebred breeding and any other breed.

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