How does conditioning affect your assessments on a horse? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 09-12-2008, 01:06 AM Thread Starter
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How does conditioning affect your assessments on a horse?

Sorry if this isn't the right place, but I thought it related.

I was thinking about it and when I originally post pictures of my horse, Herbie, I receive some very unenthusiastic reviews, but when I posted more recent pictures, where he is in a lot better shape, and received much nicer comments. In fact, when first posted I believe I got a comment like "in all honesty, I don't like anything about his conformation". I will say that in my recent critique I did add undersaddle pictures, which is the area he really shines in, but what really changed? He is the same horse and his conformation is exactly the same, the only thing that changed is condition. So, I was wondering, how much does condition affect your ability to judge a horse's conformation? I know it affects my assessments a lot.

I've added pictures to show you an example. The first picture was the picture I added in my first critique a long time ago, the third picture was used in my most recent critique, and the second picture was taken somewhere in between (no critique on that one)

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post #2 of 9 Old 09-12-2008, 01:33 AM
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I don't critique horses, since I don't feel that I know enough about conformation to be giving my opinion. However, I like looking through critique threads.
I find that if the horse is very skinny (as in you can see it's bones clearly) it's basically impossible to critique. It's hard to imagine the horse with the fat and muscle that it needs. Same for a really overweight horse. For me personally, my judgement is affected only if the horse is on both sides of the extreme.

In your case, I think it's because you posted a better photo the second time. There's a huge difference when a horse is standing under himself and when a horse is squared up nicely, in my opinion. However, i think that the lighting is better in the first photo. Either way, the last photo is a much more critiqueable photo.
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post #3 of 9 Old 09-12-2008, 02:15 AM Thread Starter
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While it's true that the last picture is a lot easier to critique, I'm convince that that wasn't the main reason.
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post #4 of 9 Old 09-12-2008, 10:56 AM
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I can't see the pix from this computer so I can't critique but the condition of the horse doesnt usually affect how I critique a horse. I "hope" that I can see through all that.

I do not generally have a lot to say regarding horses in this section becuase for one thing, people are posting pix of horses they love and alot of times I think responses are cold or uncaring, I don't know... seems like someone will post a pic and say... I love this horse and ten people will type: Cowhocked, toed in, too skinny, thin neck, etc. Also, depending on the discipline and the use of the horse, what is desireable can change. for instance, a QH that is built for reigning is completely different from a QH that is built for pleasure. Plus, if your horse happens to be a backyard trail pony, who cares if it's short backed and cowhocked or it's neck is way to thick for it's body and it's head is the size of an elephants? If it's a trail horse, what's important is that it rides safely and steadily without spooking and tripping all over the place... all that other stuff... is just added bonuses....

but if i were buying a horse, i would hope i could see through the ribs and the starvation hairs to tell what kind of gem the horse might be someday....

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post #5 of 9 Old 09-12-2008, 02:09 PM
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that's an interesting question supermane! A very large part of assessing a horse's conformation is looking their overall structure and the angles of their bones. Essentially, a well trained person should be able to look at a skinny or unconditioned horse and determine whether or not they would be a suitable prospect for their discipline by mainly those factors. It's that 'eye' that gives people the opportunity to buy some random horse out in some pasture and make a superstar out of them. :) But... at the same time I think it can very easy to be influenced by the overall picture of a horse and think, 'ooh, pretty!', esp if you're comparing it to a horse that maybe is built better but is in horrible shape.
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post #6 of 9 Old 09-12-2008, 02:35 PM
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That's true, I was going to mention that its often easier to critique a skinny horse from a simply physical standpoint because it is so much easier to see the bone structure, especially when you are looking at a flat photograph.

Poor condition brings up other questions about the horse's overall health. Is the horse poorly fed, or is it a sign of something else, be it poor teeth, parasites, age, etc. Those all certainly effect whether or not a horse is a good prospect from a buyer's standpoint. But the bone structure is what tells you what the horse is physically capable of.
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post #7 of 9 Old 09-12-2008, 11:55 PM
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Honestly? It's hard. One can only ever judge by the picture presented. Now, some things remain constant, despite condition; look of the legs, back length, neck connection, shoulder, ect, but because of muscling, faults that once looked glaring don't seem so bad anymore.

I'll give you an example with my own horse.
This was Storm one month before I bought him:

This was Storm 2 year after that pic was taken

Different looking horse. But if you look at the actual basics of him, his conformation didn't change. He just looked healthier.
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post #8 of 9 Old 09-13-2008, 12:07 AM Thread Starter
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Wow, I see what you mean.

Everyone is free to post pictures, in fact I think it might help.
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post #9 of 9 Old 09-14-2008, 02:24 PM
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Frankly, in your case, although the last picture is easier to critique than the first, the first isnt so horrible that i would say I "like absolutely nothing" about his confermation. Unless the horse is at a weird angle, or the lighting is poor and it's hard to make out the legs or something, or the horse is standing completely awkward (like the pick was taken as you were backing them up or something), a person with a trained eye should be able to make an educated critique. The confermation issues I see (which arent extreme) show up in all three pictures.


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