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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know that there are quite a few people here who are not really experienced with horse conformation or all the terms commonly used to describe certain faults. I just thought it would be a good idea to post some of the basics of horse conformation and some of the more common faults along with pictures or examples so that people can know what the phrase is describing. I did not type most of this myself, it is just copied and pasted from several websites just to put it all in one convenient place for members. Nor are most of these my pictures. They were the best examples that I could find of that particular fault.

I'll start off with the legs.

Front Legs:

Ideally, when viewed from the side, you should be able to draw a straight line through the center of the bones of the forearm, knee, cannon and bulb of the heel.
The front legs support 60-65% of the horse's weight. They are more prone to stress and injury than the hind legs. Therefore, it is important to have a well-muscled forearm and a straight limb.
The elbow is where the top of the leg joins the shoulder/girth area. A hand should be able to slide in between the elbow and the horse's body.
Viewed from the side, the forearm should be wide and well-muscled. It's length will indicate length of stride.
The knee should be large, flat and straight. The cannon bones should be short, compared to the forearm. This increases stability and the length of stride.
The tendons should be well defined and broad from the knee to the fetlock. Tendons that are too light for the size of the horse are "tied in" and appear cut in at the back of the knee.
The angle of the pastern should match that of the should angle. the angle of the front of the hoof should march the pastern angle.
There are conformation faults which can affect the soundness of the horse. When viewed from the side, the legs can exhibit some of the following faults:​

Camped out:

The front leg, from body to the ground, is set too far forward. May be an indication of Navicular disease or laminitis.
Camped under:

The front leg is angled back. The horse carries too much weight on the forehand. Results in shorter stride with tendency to stumble.
Over at the knee:

The knee appears to be buckled forward. Produces greater strain on tendons and suspensory ligaments. Slightly over at knee is not as serious as back at knee.
Calf kneed (back at knee):

The knee curves backward. Produces strain on tendons, bones and ligaments. Knee chips and bowed tendons are the result of calf knees.
Tied In:
The cannon should appear to be the same width from just below the knee to just above the pastern. The tied-in leg shows the tendon slanting in toward the knee. The flexor tendons are too close to the cannon just below the knee.​

When viewed from the front, the front legs should be straight.

A vertical line drawn from the point of the shoulder should fall in the center of the knee, cannon, pastern and hoof. The front legs are parallel with the feet pointing straight ahead. Deviations from this standard are faults which affect gait, soundness and performance.​
Look for these conformation faults when viewing the front legs:

Base wide:
The distance between feet on ground is wider than between legs at chest. Horse places more weight on inside of foot. The inside of the leg is under more strain. Gait shows "winging" inward.​

Base narrow:
The distance between the feet at ground is narrower that between the legs at chest level. Horse places more weight on outside of foot causing fetlock and pastern strain.​

Toes out:
The hooves turn out from center line. Fault may start at forearm, knee or fetlock.​

Bow legged:
Usually associated with base narrow, toe in faults. Places excess strain on knees.​

Base narrow - toes out:
Closely placed feet and winging gait will cause interference and plaiting. Plaiting gait can cause horse to stumble. This is weak conformation that compromises the ability for heavy work.​

Bench knee (offset knee):
The cannon bone is not centered in the knee. A congenital fault.​

Pigeon-toed (toes in):
The hooves point inward. Found in base narrow horses. Horses will paddle. May cause interference and puts strain on the fetlock joint. Base narrow-toes in conformation can cause windpuffs, ringbone and sidebone.​

Knock kneed:
A deviation of the knee caused by growth plate abnormalities. Causes excessive knee strain. Outward rotation of cannon bone, fetlock and foot usually are present.​

22,320 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The Hind Legs.

Back Legs:

The hindquarters produce the power and propulsion of the stride. The hindquarters should have long, well-developed muscles. The croup should be slightly rounded, neither too flat nor too sloped. Length and width of the croup are important since the length of muscle provides speed and the width is associated with power. The thigh and stifle should have long, well-developed muscles. The gaskin is to be long and muscled on both the inside and outside. A long gaskin increases the length of leg from hip to hock, allowing for maximum range of motion. A short gaskin indicates a short strided horse.
The hock should be wide and smooth, free from puffy swelling or bony enlargements. The angle of the hock is extremely important. Too wide an angle leads to a hind leg too straight. Too small of an angle results in a sickle-hocked conformation.
The cannon bone should be short, wide and flat. Fetlocks are large and wide, free from swelling or windpuffs. The pasterns are of moderate length with an angle of 50-55 degrees.
Look for the following conformation faults and unsoundnesses when viewing the hind legs from the side:​

Sickle hocks:
The hocks are severely angled from the point of the hock to the fetlock. The horse appears to stand under from the hock down. Subjects horse to strain in hocks - causes curb, throughpin, and bog spavin. Sickle hocked horses tend to interfere at the trot. They are often cow-hocked, making for a severe hind leg deficit.​

Camped out:
The hind leg is carried behind the vertical line from buttock to ground. This prevents the horse from getting its legs under itself for collection. Hunters and jumpers will have trouble pushing off over jumps. Often associated with upright pasterns.​

Post legged:
The hock is too straight. Places increased stress on tendons and ligaments. Bog spavin and patella injuries result. The leg is easily injured by heavy work.​

oose rumped:
There is a lack of muscling on the croup. Indicates lack of power and endurance.​

Flat croup:
Associated with low striding action. If too flat, the legs are carried too far back, limiting stride and power​

This is a firm swelling abut 4" below the point of the hock at the back of the leg. This is a strain of the ligament connecting the hind cannon to the hock. Does not cause permanent lameness.​

Bog spavin:
This is a soft swelling located in front and to the inside of the hock. Caused by injury to the hock or upright conformation of the hock. Usually does not cause permanent lameness.​

Capped hock:
This is a swelling on the point of the hock caused by stall kicking or other injury. Usually does not cause permanent lameness.​

Conformation of the hind legs when viewed from the back:

You should be able to draw a straight line through the hocks, cannon bones and fetlocks from the point of the buttock to the ground.
Look for these conformation flaws when viewing the hind legs from the back:

Base wide:
This is not seen as often in the hind legs as it is the front legs. Often associated with cow-hocked conformation.​

Base narrow:
Most of the horse's weight is carried on the outside of the hooves. The hocks bow outward during stride. Horse will interfere.​

Bow legged (Bandy legged):
The hocks rotate outward. Horse moves stiffly due to inflexible hock action. Hindquarters are weak and the horse tires easily.​

Cow hocked:
The hocks are pointed inward - feet pointed outward. Places strain on inside of the leg and causes bone spavin. Hind leg moves upward and outward - not straight ahead. This is weak conformation.​

Dropped hip/
hip down:
This is a serious fault. This usually indicates a fracture or other injury and will result in almost immediate lameness when the horse is put into training.​

22,320 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Lower Legs and Shoulder

The fetlocks/pasterns/hooves:

Dropped Fetlock/**** Footed:

The pastern of the ****-footed horse slopes more than does the anterior surface of the hoof wall, or in other words, the foot and pastern axis is broken at the coronary band. It my occur in either the fore or hind feet, and it causes strain on the flexor tendons, sesamoid bones, and distal sesamoid ligaments.

Club Foot:

Club feet might be one of the most common growth problems in young horses. Affecting youngsters primarily between birth and 6 months of age, the club foot actually is a flexural deformity of the distal interphalangeal joint (coffin joint) caused by a shortening of the musculotendinous unit of the deep digital flexor tendon. As a result, the hoof capsule becomes distorted, the hoof angle approaches 60° or greater, and the horse begins walking on its toe. It is most commonly presented in the front legs, usually affecting one limb but occasionally occurring in both. It usually is an acquired condition, but can be congenital (present at birth).

Long pasterns:

Pasterns that are too long, while providing supple shock absorbency for a smooth ride, may not stand up to hard work.

Short Pasterns:

A short pastern will be strong but the horse’s gaits may be choppier.

The Shoulder:

Steep/Upright shoulder:

The shoulder blade, measured from the top of the withers to the point of shoulder, lies in an upright position, particularly as it follows the scapular spine.
A straight shoulder often accompanies low withers.
Upright shoulders are common and seen in any breed, particularly Quarter Horses. An upright shoulder affects all sport horses.
The horse has shorter muscular attachments that have less ability to contract and lengthen. This shortens the stride length, which requires the horse to take more steps to cover ground, and causes a greater risk of injury to the structures of the front legs and hastens muscular fatigue.
An upright shoulder may cause a rough, inelastic ride due to the high knee action. It increases concussion on front limbs, possibly promoting the development of DJD or navicular disease in hard-working horses. The stress of impact tends to stiffen the muscles of the shoulder, making the horse less supple with a reduced range of motion needed for long stride reach.
An upright shoulder causes the shoulder joint to be open and set low over a short, steep arm bone, making it difficult for horse to elevate its shoulders and fold its angles tightly, which is needed for a good jump and in cutting.
An upright horse shoulder conformation is best for gaited or park showing, parade horses, and activities requiring a quick burst of speed, like roping or Quarter Horse racing.

Laid Back/Sloping shoulder:

The horse has an oblique angle of shoulder (measured from the top of the withers to the point of shoulder) with the withers set well behind the elbow. Often accompanies a deep chest and high withers.
A sloping shoulder is common. It mostly affects jumping, racing, cutting, reining, polo, eventing, and dressage.
The horse has a long shoulder blade to which attached muscles effectively contract and so increase the extension and efficiency of stride. It distributes muscular attachments of the shoulder to the body over a large area, decreasing jar and preventing stiffening of the shoulders with impact.
The horse has an elasticity and free swing in its shoulder, enabling extension of stride that is needed in dressage and jumping. A long stride contributes to stamina and assists in maintaining speed.
The longer the bones of the shoulder blade and arm, the easier it is to fold legs in and tuck over fences. The laid back scapula slides back to the horizontal as the horse lifts its front legs, increasing the horse's scope over fences
A sloping shoulder has better shock-absorption and provides a comfortable ride because it sets the withers back so the rider is not over the front legs.
A sloping horse shoulder conformation is advantageous in jumping, dressage, eventing, cutting, polo, driving, racing, and endurance.

22,320 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The neck and head

The Neck:

A nicely arched/turned-over neck:

The crest is convex or arched with proportional development of all muscles. This is an ideal neck.
Common, seen in all breeds and in all sports.
The neck appears as if it is flowing into the back, so it looks good and creates an efficient lever for maneuvering.
The strength of the neck with proportional development of all muscles improves the swing of shoulder, elevates the shoulder and body, and aids the horse in engaging the hindquarters through activation of the back.
Good for any sport

Short Neck:

A neck that is less than 1/3 the length of the horse
Short necks are common, and seen in any breed
A short neck is often quite flexible despite appearing thick and muscular, and the function and range is rarely altered. May be slightly less flexible at the poll, but the horse's maneuverability and agility is generally not affected. It does not shorten stride length, which has more to do with shoulder slope.
The horse may not excel at jumping high obstacles or galloping at high speeds, and may not be as handy at quick directional changes.

Long neck:

A long neck is a neck is one that is much more than 1/3 the length of the horse
Long necks are common, especially in Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds, and Gaited Horses
It may make it hard to balance the horse, and the horse may fatigue more quickly as a result of carrying too much weight on front end.
Lengthy neck muscles are difficult to develop in size and strength
A long-necked horse needs broad withers to support weight of head and neck
It is easier for the horse to fall into bend of an S-curve than to come through the bridle, which causes horse to fall onto inside shoulder, and makes him difficult for the rider to straighten.
The horse is best for jumping and speed sports (without quick changes of direction), or for straight line riding like trail riding.

Large crest-Excessively large/fallen crest:

The horse has an overly large crest that may fall
to one side in extreme cases
Relatively uncommon, although any horse can develop an excessively large crest. It is usually seen in stallions, ponies, Morgans, and draft breeds
It is usually from fat deposits above the nuchal ligament.
An excessively large crest not only looks bad, but it puts more weight on the forehand
Obese horse needs a proper conditioning program

Bull Neck:

The horse has a short, thick, and beefy neck with short upper curve. The attachment to its body is beneath the half-way point down the length of shoulder.
This trait is fairly common, especially in draft breeds, Quarter Horses, and Morgans.
It is generally more difficult to maintain balance if the rider is large and heavy or out of balance, which causes the horse to fall onto forehand. Without a rider, the horse is usually fine.
A bull neck is desirable for draft or carriage horses, so as to provide comfort for the neck collar. The muscles of the neck also generate pulling power.
The horse is best for non-speed sports.

Ewe/ Upside-down Neck:

A neck with internal structure that causes it to bend upward instead of down in the normal arch.
This fault is common and seen in any breed, especially in long-necked horses but mainly in the Arabian Horse and Thoroughbred.
The fault may be caused by a horse who holds his neck high (stargazing). Stargazing makes it difficult for rider to control the horse, who then braces on the bit and is hard-mouthed.
A ewe neck is counter-productive to collection and proper transitions, as the horse only elevates head and doesn’t engage its hind end. The horse's loins and back may become sore.
The sunken crest often fills if horse ridden correctly into bridle. However, the horse's performance will be limited until the proper muscling is developed.

Swan neck:

The horse has a neck set at a high upward angle, with the upper curve arched, yet a dip remains in front of the withers and the muscles bulge on underside.
This conformation type is common, especially in Saddlebreds, Gaited horses, and Thoroughbreds
A swan neck makes it easy for a horse to lean on the bit and curl behind without lifting its back.
Often cause by incorrect work or false collection.


A long, skinny neck, with poor muscular development on both the top and bottom. Appearance of a straight crest without much substance below.
A knife-neck is relatively uncommon in older horses, although any breed can be affected. It is sometimes seen in young, green horses.
It is usually associated with poor development of back, neck, abdominal and haunch muscles, allowing horse to go in strung-out frame with no collection and on the forehand.
It is often rider-induced, and usually indicates lack of athletic ability.
It can be improved through skillful riding and the careful use of side reins to develop more muscle and stability.
The horse is best for light pleasure riding until its strength is developed

The Head:

Roman Nose:

The horse has a convex profile. Properly proportioned, this type of head also has adequate sinus capacity, particularly suited for sustained bursts of power such as that needed by Draft horses and lighter riding breeds noted for their power.

Moose Nose:

This shows up as a bulge on the lower part of the nose and usually indicates a horse with a strong character, frequently a herd leader.

Dish Face:

The horse has a concave profile or dish beneath the eyes, often further exaggerated by slight bulging of the forehead (jibbah) Contrary to popular belief, a deep dish in and of itself does not restrict airflow, rather, it allows for long periods of aerobic activity, such as Endurance riding.
This type of head is seen in light riding horses such as the Arab Horse.

Pig Eyes:

"Pig-eyed" horses, or those with sunken eyes, see less in front and behind than others. They have often been classified in song and verse as being "mean." Many pig-eyed horses are normal and useful, but one researcher suggests that those growing up in groups of foals may be "picked on" more than others and develop disposition problems. Most riders discriminate against them.

22,320 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The Withers, Back, and Croup

The Withers:

Mutton withers:

The horse has flat and wide withers, from short spines projecting off the 8th-12th vertebrae.
Seen in any breed, most commonly in Ponies, Arabians and American Quarter Horses.
The withers are an important attachment for ligaments and muscles that extend head, neck, shoulder, and back vertebrae, and are also insertion point for muscles that open ribs for breathing. If mutton withered, the horse has less range of motion when extending the head and back muscles, so is less able to elevate its back with its head and neck extended, which affects ability for collection.
Difficult to hold on saddle. If saddle slides forward, it can put weight on the forehand, interfering with balance and restrict the shoulder movement by saddle and rider movement, causing shortened stride, interfering or forging.
The horse is often difficult to fit with a driving harness
Pleasure riding and non-jumping activities are best for the horse

High withers:

The 8th through 12th thoracic vertebrae are long and angle backward to create steep, high withers
Especially seen in Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds, and some Warmbloods
High withers provide a lever for the muscles of the back and neck to work together efficiently. As the head and neck lower to extend, the back and loin muscles correspondingly shorten or lengthen. The backward angle of withers is usually associated with sloping shoulders, which provides good movement of the shoulder blade. This makes it easy for the horse to engage in collection, lengthen, round its back for jumping, or extend its shoulder for improved stride length and speed.
If the withers are too high and narrow, there is a chance that a poorly fit saddle will impinge on withers and slip back too far, creating pain especially with the rider’s weight. Performance and willingness will suffer.

The Back:

Long back:

With the back measured from peak of withers to peak of croup, exceeds 1/3 of horse’s overall body length. Usually associated with long, weak loins.
Especially seen in gaited horses, Saddlebreds, Thoroughbreds, and some Warmbloods.
The horse's ability to engage back depends on its ability to elevate the back and loins, requiring strong back and abdominal muscles. A long back is flexible, but harder for horse to stiffen and straighten spine to develop speed or coil loins to collect and engage the hindquarters to thrust rear limbs forward. This then affects upper level dressage, cutting, reining, barrel racing, and polo: sports that require rapid engagement of the hindquarters. Reduced flexion forces the horse to jump flatter with less bascule.
It is difficult to develop a long back's muscle strength, so a horse is more likely to fatigue under the rider and to sway over time. The abdominal have more difficulty in compensating, so they are also less likely to develop. Loins and hindquarters may swing more than normal, increasing the occurrence of sore muscles which leads to a stiff, rigid ride. Cross-firing or speedy cutting likely at high-speeds from a horse with a long back.
Movement of the back is flatter and quieter, making a more comfortable ride and is easier for horse to change leads.

Short back:

The horse's back measures less than 1/3 of overall length of horse from peak of withers to peak of croup
Can be seen in any breed, especially in American Quarter Horses, Arabians, and some Warmbloods
The back may lack flexibility and become stiff and rigid. If vertebral spines of back are excessively small, the horse may have difficulty bending and later develop spinal arthritis. This adversely affects dressage and jumping performance. If still in back and torso, the stride will become stiff and inelastic. The horse may overreach, forge, or scalp itself if the hind legs do not move straight.
The horse may be handy and agile, able to change direction with ease. Good for polo, roping, cutting, reining. If the horse has good muscling, it is able to support weight of rider with rare occurrence of back pain.
Conformation best used in agility sports

Sway Back:

The span of the back dips noticeably in center, forming a concave contour between the withers and croup. Usually causes high head carriage and stiffness through the back. Associated with a long back.
Often associated with weakness of ligaments of the back. Examples include a broodmare who had multiple foals and the back dips with age, an old horse where age is accompanied with weakening of the ligaments, a horse with poor fitness/conditioning that prevents adequate ligament support of the back muscles, or an overuse injury to the muscles and ligaments from excess work, great loads, or premature work on an immature horse.
Some horses with high croups and straight backs often appear to be swayed.
Often accompanies long loins. If the loins aren’t broad, the ligament structures may weaken, causing the back to drop.
A sway back positions the rider behind the center of gravity, interfering with balance. * The horse is unable to elevate for true collection, which can affect any sport but most notably dressage, jumping, and stock work. The back may get sore from lack of support and the rider’s weight.
The horse is unable to achieve rapid impulsion since the rear is less connected with front end. To achieve speed, the horse must create some rigidity in back and spine, which is not possible with a sway. This causes problems in racing, eventing, Steeplechasing, and polo.
This horse is most suited for pleasure riding and for teaching students.

Roached back:

In the area where the back and loins join the croup (the coupling) there is an upward convex curvature of the spine. Often a result of a short back, or injury or malalignment of the lumbar vertebrae.
Often accompanied by less-developed loin muscles in breadth, substance, and strength. The spine already “fixed” in a curved position, and the attaching muscles are unable to contract properly to round or elevate the back. Thus it is difficult to engage the hindquarters or round the back by elevating loin muscles. Vertebrae often have reduced motion so the horse takes shorter steps behind.
Jumping and dressage esp ecially are affected.
The horse is stiffer through the back and less flexible in an up and down motion as well as side to side.
There may be back pain from vertebral impingement.
There is a less elastic feel beneath rider as the back too rigid. Agility sports (polo, cutting, reining, barrel racing, gymkhana) are more difficult.

Steep Croup or Goose rump:

A steep croup is often linked to shortened stride. Less of a fault for slow-moving horses such as draft breeds than for light riding horses

Flat or Horizontal Croup:

The topline continues in a relatively flat manner to the dock of tail rather than falling off at oblique angle at the hips.
Seen especially in Saddlebreds, Arabians, and Gaited horses
Encourages a long, flowing stride. This helps a horse go faster, especially when a flat croup is sufficiently long to allow a greater range of muscle contraction to move the bony levers of skeleton.

Hunter's Bump:

The horse has an enlargement at the top of the croup, or a malalignment of the croup with the pelvis and lumbar vertebrae, caused by the tearing of a ligament at the top of the croup. One or both sides of L-S joint may be affected.
Fairly common, usually seen in jumping horses and in horses that rack in an inverted frame.
It is a torn ligament caused by excessive hindquarter effort, or from a horse that had the hindquarters slip out underneath or trotted up a very steep hill. Usually does not cause problems once healed, although it is easier to re-injure.
Usually associated with horses with weak loins or a long back that is unable to coil loins properly for collection. Commonly caused by overpacing young horses, a rider allowing a horse to jump while strung out, or by racking (or other gaiting) in a very inverted frame.

22,320 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The Tail Set and Uphill/Downhill build.

The Tail:

High Tail Set:

Tail comes out of body on a level with the top of the back.
Commonly seen, usually in Arabians, Saddlebreds, Gaited horses, and Morgans
There is no direct performance consequence. Often, although not always, it is associated with a flat croup. A high-set tail contributes to the appearance of a horizontal croup, which may be an aesthetic concern to some.
Gives as animated appearance, which is good for parade, showing, or driving

Low Tail Set:

Tail comes out of the body well down along the haunches. Associated with goose-rumped or steep pelvis.
Seen in any breed, especially in draft breeds
Only aesthetic concern unless directly caused by pelvic conformation.


Uphill Build:

The peak of the withers is higher than the peak of the croup when the horse is square. Uphill build is very advantageous in dressage, eventing, etc as the horse has an easier time engaging the hind end. However true uphill or downhill build depends on the levelness of the spine. Many breeds characteristically have high and prominent withers, such as the TB. In these horses the withers may be higher than the croup giving the impression of an uphill build while the horse's actual spine levelness is downhill.
Common in well-built warmbloods.

Downhill Build:

The peak of the croup is higher than the peak of the withers. This is less desirable than a horse with higher withers.
Seen in any breed but especially in Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, and Quarter Horses.
Young horses are usually built this way.
More weight is placed on the forehand, reducing the front-end agility. Muscles must work harder to lift the forehand, leading to muscular fatigue. It is difficult to raise the forehand at the base of a jump for liftoff. At speed, more work of loins, back & front end is needed to lift the forelimbs.
Increases concussion on the front legs, so the horse is at greater risk of front-end lameness. Greater jar on the rider.
Tends to throw the saddle & rider toward the shoulders, leading to chaffing, pressure around withers, & restricted shoulder movement.

If anyone can think of any others, by all means share. :D

3,113 Posts
Hoof shape and hoof/pastern axis. These can be both a product of poor conformation and a cause as well. Having incorrect angles can affect the entire look of a horses conformation, not to mention cause strain and discomfort with movement.

Normal hoof pastern axis:

The foot is trimmed appropriately and the hoof angle is correct for the individual horse when the dorsal hoof wall and the dorsal surface of the pastern region are parallel. This is known as the hoof pastern axis. In order to confirm this hoof-pastern axis visually, the horse must stand squarely on all four feet with the cannon bones positioned vertically on a hard, level surface. The terms low hoof angle and high hoof angle can be used simply to describe a non-parallel relationship between the dorsal hoof wall and the dorsal pastern region. The correct hoof-pastern alignment may be hard to achieve when the toe of the foot is either too long or too short and the heels are either too high or too low. Therefore, trimming the foot plays a key role in achieving and maintaining a normal hoof-pastern axis. A brief discussion of what constitutes an abnormal hoof-pastern axis and its detrimental implications may help demonstrate the importance of correcting any abnormalities that exist.

Broken back hoof pastern axis(aka "long toe/ low heel"):

This type of foot configuration is commonly caused by the long-toe/under run-heel. If the toe is allowed to grow excessively long, the heels grow forward and hence, lower. This causes the pastern to move forward, creating a broken-back pastern axis. A low hoof angle causes coffin joint extension (constant strain on that joint), increased strain on the deep digital flexor tendon and promotes toe-first landing which causes friction in the navicular bursa and delays the speed of break over. There is experimental evidence that a low hoof angle will compromise circulation in the heel area of the foot. Obviously, these detrimental effects are proportional to the severity of the low hoof angle. It was believed for many years (especially by racetrack trainers) that lowering the heel would increase the length of stride. This has been proven to be a fallacy.

Footwear Drawing Shoe Illustration

Broken forward hoof pastern axis(aka "club foot"):

On the other hand, high hoof angles, where the angle of the dorsal hoof wall is higher than the angle of the dorsal pastern, create a broken-forward pastern axis (Figure 4). An extremely high hoof angle is often classified as a “club foot.” Some horses with extremely upright pasterns may be falsely identified as having a club foot. A high hoof angle causes coffin joint flexion, increases strain on the suspensory ligaments, promotes heel-first landing and increases pressure in the heel. Some injuries associated with a high hoof angle are coffin joint inflammation due to abnormal loading of this joint, pedal osteitis and suspensory desmitis due to the increased strain on the suspensory ligament. Hoof trimming or preparation is the most important aspect of horseshoeing. An objective of proper hoof trimming is to reduce unnecessary forces exerted on the toe, heels or joints within or above the foot. This can be accomplished by making the dorsal surface of the foot parallel with the dorsal surface of the pastern region. Adjusting the hoof angle so that the dorsal surface of the hoof parallels the dorsal surface of the pastern region will decrease the effects of high or low hoof angles along with the abnormal physiology they create.
Illustration Drawing Line art Black-and-white

629 Posts
For the most part those are nicely documented.

Of note though:

That isn't a long back, nor is the description given on how to determine back length, correct.

And a downhill build is not determined by comparing croup height to wither height.

A steep croup is not the same as a goose rump.

An upright shoulder does not in and of itself pose the issues stated. The front end is far more complicated in its construction than that and it is the humerus bone that plays the largest role in front end range of motion/way of going etc... One will actually find many GP jumpers with a more upright shoulder.

12,825 Posts
Thank you smrobs for putting all kinds of good info in one place.

For the most part those are nicely documented.

Of note though:

That isn't a long back, nor is the description given on how to determine back length, correct.

And a downhill build is not determined by comparing croup height to wither height.

A steep croup is not the same as a goose rump.
If you do not agree please explain why, not just that you do not agree. And give examples.

23,909 Posts
Great thread and great job! To the Admins: it worse to be "Sticky".

3,113 Posts
Thank you smrobs for putting all kinds of good info in one place.

If you do not agree please explain why, not just that you do not agree. And give examples.
Agreed, if you are going to disagree at least explain why, otherwise it just comes across as petulant and unnecessary. Plus what she posted is common conception of conformation whether it is scientifically correct or not, that is what most people consider each thing to be.

You are correct about the downhill, but only partially. It is indeed seen as higher croup than wither but ALSO the proportions of the hind legs to the fronts are to be taken into consideration as well as the levelness of the spine itself(i.e. if the croup is higher than the wither but the spine is level, the horse is just croup high(called downhill anyway 99% of the time so it does not really matter) as opposed to the spine actually higher at the croup than at the wither).

629 Posts
If you do not agree please explain why, not just that you do not agree. And give examples.
Back length is determined my measuring from highest point of wither to ls joint and then dividing that length by the body length, which is determined by the measurement from point of shoulder to point of buttock. A result greater than 50% is a long back...45% is considered 'ideal' for a riding horse. Less than 45% is a short back.

Levelness of build is determined by drawing a line from ls joint to the lower cervical curve.

A steep croup (pelvis) is just that, steep. A goose like a goose's rump. (picture a goose)

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Agreed, if you are going to disagree at least explain why, otherwise it just comes across as petulant and unnecessary. Plus what she posted is common conception of conformation whether it is scientifically correct or not, that is what most people consider each thing to be.
Be sure to uphold all others to same criteria in future.

Irrelevant what is 'common conception of conformation''s incorrect. If you'd like to continue to embrace that incorrectness, knock yourself out. People used to think the world was flat.

You are correct about the downhill, but only partially.
No, actually I am completely correct.

3,113 Posts
Be sure to uphold all others to same criteria in future.

Irrelevant what is 'common conception of conformation''s incorrect. If you'd like to continue to embrace that incorrectness, knock yourself out. People used to think the world was flat.

No, actually I am completely correct.
Mercedes, form quite a few other posts I have seen of you lately I feel I have no reason whatsoever to continue with you on this, you seem to be convinced you know everything there is to know about whichever topics you chose to comment on and who am I to tell you differently, right? I am just purely curious as to why almost every single post I have found from you is negative or condescending?

Thanks for explaining why you disagreed with those specific terms Smrobs posted.

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Mercedes, form quite a few other posts I have seen of you lately I feel I have no reason whatsoever to continue with you on this, you seem to be convinced you know everything there is to know about whichever topics you chose to comment on and who am I to tell you differently, right? I am just purely curious as to why almost every single post I have found from you is negative or condescending?
If you feel no reason to continue, then why do you continue?

I only talk about those things I am well-versed in. It would be stupid for me to talk about cricket, as I know nothing about cricket other than I understand a match can go on for days, and if the ball hits you, it hurts.

To be negative and condescending would require me to invest emotional energy into nameless, faceless people I don't know. And I don't do that.

If you go back and check, I haven't called anyone names, I haven't even said that what they posted was negative or condescending, or the whole host of other things I've been accused of.

Just as in this thread, it was YOU who started by going off topic, getting on the bandwagon, saying that what I did was petulant and unnecessary. I could have said the same about you, but I didn't.
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