to me, a safe, honest, sound horse is my first priority.
I have learned over the years that looks aren't good for much, unless your showing in specific, appearance focused disciplines.
You can't ride the papers, and bloodlines don't always breed true.
He's not the most gorgeous horse, but if he's sound, sane, safe, and capable of doing what you want, go for it.
EXACTLY!! For example, these two horses:
First horse is Einstein, the second one is Trinity. Neither one of these horses is a conformation superstar by ANY MEANS. Check out Einstein's pasterns. It's hard to see with trinity, but she's very downhill. They each have their flaws. Yet BOTH of these horses are everyones favorite draws at IHSA shows.
If you draw Einstein you're guarenteed to win your flat class, because he's comfortable, easy, and makes you look good (He's wearing that sash because he won Best Flat Horse Draw at Zone finals.)
Trinity isn't the most comfortable for flat, but she's a dream for jumping! SO easy to see a distance on, auto changes, can make all the strides, and jumps up to 3' without a problem.
So while conformation IS important, don't get me wrong... attitude, soundness, temperment, and ability are ALSO important!