The 'Coupling' and Lumbo-sacral area of the back

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The 'Coupling' and Lumbo-sacral area of the back

This is a discussion on The 'Coupling' and Lumbo-sacral area of the back within the Horse Conformation Critique forums, part of the Horse Breeds, Breeding, and Genetics category
  • Deformed croup on a horse
  • Lumbo sacralmjointiin a horse

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    08-29-2012, 11:21 AM
Green Broke
The 'Coupling' and Lumbo-sacral area of the back

In response to a Question by TinyLiny, I am starting this thread. I do not expect everyone will agree with me, but it may prove to be an interesting discussion.

The Coupling is actually the placement of the lumbo sacral (LS) joint and its configuration. To begin with you need to read and understand this paper by Dr. Deb Bennett:

This explains the ring of muscles and how they work to help a horse better carry himself. If you can strengthen the ring of muscles, any horse can improve their way of going and carriage, even if they do not have great conformation, are built down hill or have a weak LS area.

Next I will give examples (in photos) of various LS issues
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    08-29-2012, 11:23 AM
Green Broke
Here is are some examples of horses with weak backs.. or weak couplings.. poorly placed LS joints. You can see the weak area in front of the peak of croup. These horses may have other faults but I am only concentrating on the back. I would not buy the first horse. I might buy the second horse and get his "ring of muscles" working for him. There are no perfect horses.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg weak back 2.jpg (10.1 KB, 364 views)
File Type: jpg weak back.jpg (7.2 KB, 368 views)
    08-29-2012, 11:26 AM
Green Broke
This is the opposite of a long weak back. This is what a Roach looks like. Yes, it is extreme, but it is not a serious issue unless it is this extreme (again this is my opinion). I would never purchase a horse with this back. It is hard to see in this image (grabbed off the internet) but this horse is almost deformed looking.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg roach back.jpg (9.8 KB, 356 views)
    08-29-2012, 11:29 AM
Green Broke
Last, here are some examples of strong backed horses with good LS placement.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg strong back 2.jpg (8.7 KB, 356 views)
File Type: jpg strong back 3.jpg (7.2 KB, 354 views)
File Type: jpg strong back.jpg (14.7 KB, 352 views)
    08-29-2012, 11:34 AM
Green Broke
Try again.. here is a horse that I think has nearly perfect conformation. This is Lonrho, Champion Thoroughbred in Australia where he stands stud (or did the last I knew).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Lonrho.jpg (10.7 KB, 361 views)
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    08-29-2012, 11:39 AM
Green Broke
Now, here is what I mean when I say a stallion shows prepotency for a trait (such as a strong back). This is one of Lonrho's offspring next to his Father.. he looks a chip off the old block.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Lonrho progeny.jpg (9.7 KB, 346 views)
File Type: jpg Thoroughbred-Horses.jpg (60.1 KB, 439 views)
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    08-29-2012, 11:41 AM
Green Broke
And if you want to see a REALLY long back.. this was sent to me by Email and I was told it is a Texas Limo.... (just a little fun).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg reall long back.jpg (10.1 KB, 351 views)
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    08-29-2012, 11:43 AM
Green Broke
Just found another of a Roach back.. again.. grab off the Internet.. (Google Roach back and click on "images")
Attached Images
File Type: jpg roach two.jpg (5.1 KB, 342 views)
    08-29-2012, 01:07 PM
Ok. But what specifically IS a weak back or strong. I mean, you show two examples of horses and you say, "see the weak area in front of peak of croup" . Weak? What are we looking for? A line that angles up or is convex? Or concave? I mean , can you put it in terms of geometry.?

I can see the extreme. Though , the stallion you raise as perfect confo almost appears to have a roach in his back. Might be the light/shadow of that photo, tho.

And, what about the LS linking is good/bad? What angles?

I have read a lot of Dr. Bennets' things. But I wish she would use a pen or a crayon and draw over the photo to indicate what she means by "weak coupling" or "short loins".
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    08-29-2012, 01:35 PM
Green Broke
What you do not want is the peak of the rump set behind the hip bone prominence. You want that peak to be over the hip and a little forward of the hip doesn't hurt. In the weak back examples, the "coupling" (Lumbo area) is concave and the LS joint is "late" (behind the hip bone). A true "peak" like the first two horses exhibit is rarely put together with a strong back... a strong back shows a smooth transition between the croup and the back.. there is no defined point for the peak of croup.

In the Roach, there is a clearly convex area ahead of the hip.. almost like the peak of croup is far ahead of the hip bones. A slight roach is strong.. and a bit stiff.. but those horses, while not as good at shifting their weight to the rear and lengthening the back to get the hind legs under the horse (see Dr. Deb's article and refer to the horses that are collected). A horse with a slight roach is not a horse that is typically retired for back issues.. and the do not get sway backed.

In the correct coupling you would be hard pressed to find the peak of croup because everything is smooth. The LS joint is over the hip bone and the tail is not set too low or too high.

In the photo of the three horses with good couplings, note that the grey is probably the best conformed horse of the lot. The middle horse, the bay, is a yearling.. but he is very strong and will improve with age.. likely developing a bit more wither. The grey has a better overall hind leg.. lower hocks and better angles (a good hind leg and a good LS joint are helpful for any higher level work you might want to do with a horse). The blood bay Arabian (or perhaps he is a Morgan) all the way to the right may be the weakest of the three (and he is very good) with his croup being a bit flat and his back a bit long which is compensated for by very low hocks and what I suspect is a stellar hind leg with good bone. Arabians often have a very strong coupling.. but paired with a flat croup and a high tail set, they actually do not always have a powerful hind end and may even have a weak (concave in profile.. behind the withers) back

In the case of Lonrho, he has an extremely short back. Some argue he is a bit roached.. but I see tremendous strength. His son may have a slightly more correct LS but he does not have as correct hind leg.. look at Lonrho's bone and the placement of his hock.. nice and low.. and his stifles are low too but he has a long gaskin. Another thing to note on Lonrho is his shoulder.. it is nearly perfect with the point of shoulder to elbow angle being neither steep nor flat. His son is the same way with perhaps a slightly better neck. Both he and his son have a ton of bone and great front legs.

As an aside these are mostly photos that are very good to judge conformation from as well. I wish our conformation posters would take photos of their horses set up like this.. camera image plane parallel to the horse.. horse standing with space to the knees and camera opposite the horse's hip.
tinyliny and jaydee like this.

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