I understand the critiques given on a horse. Not any animal (or human) is perfect. My question is, what is the balance?
I read a lot of the critiques, and never is there not something wrong. How do you decide what "problems" are livable? Obviously if there is a lot wrong with the horse you don't get it. But what is passable? Would you get a horse that was swaybacked? Down hill?
Or do you sometimes just see a horse, problems and all, and need to have it anyway?
My horse has tons of problems. Short neck, short legs, thick throat latch, a bit downhill, but I love him. He is a great performance horse and a lovebug. I think we just like to see what other people think of our horses or a horse we think we may buy. Some things affect the horse, but a lot of it is passable. I think it also depends on what you want to do with the horse
You look for a good 'balance' in the horse. I look for things that are going to keep them sound--for instance, long and upright pasterns are both conformation faults that will give you soundness issues. A gooserump just isn't ideal, no problems with the legs. :) Swaybacked horses, that are young, is usually caused by the rider and can be somewhat fixable.
Uphill/downhill? Again, won't affect the soundness, but it can effect their ability at the job... so it usually depends what the horse is going to do--then I'll see what traits I can live with.
It also really, really depends on what level of riding you want to do.
A horse that is cow hocked, downhill, short neck will likely have no problem whatsoever at the lower levels. But ask that same horse to jump higher, or have more collection and he'll find it next to impossible.
So you need to determine what you can/can't live with. For me, I wouldn't touch a swaybacked horse. That's just asking for problems. More and more, I'm also looking for a horse with a good sacroillian support, because I've had problems from previous horses. Quite a few horses are downhill (especially thoroughbreds. 95% of TBs are all built downhill), and that wouldn't automatically deter me-rather, they need to be able to MOVE uphill and carry themselves.
Conformation also doesn't dictate everything. We have a horse at my barn who is competing Prix St George this year. Ugliest thing you've ever seen. 17.2hh, downhill, swaybacked, HUGE neck and weak loin connection. But, while his movement isn't the flashiest, he's honest, has a fantastic mind and is traineable.
The horse my youngest son has isn't old but he's been through it all. Due to being stall confined 24/7 he has two fractured hocks (now healed) (kicking the walls), he is arthritic and has ringbone.
When we brought him home to the farm we knew light controlled exercise would be good for him so we put my then 85 pound son on his back. His previous owners said a child couldn't ride or show him - my son proved them wronge.
Amazingly enough three years later he is sound and loves his job as my son's teacher and show horse. The two now have several Championships together.
He is worth is weight in gold but would never pass a vet check!
Like everyone said, I guess it all depends on what you want to do with the horse and how severe the conformation defect is.
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