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Rowan conformation, what do you think?

1006 Views 10 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  dustyk
After his amazing bodywork session, Rowan has started standing square (sometimes). I got this picture of him yesterday and thought it might be a good one to use to ask what people see in his conformation. It's important to note that he's standing a little downhill -- he's not built downhill. His butt and withers are about the same height. He's 15'2hh or a tad less. He still has a little filling out to do, but I think it's possible to get an idea now of how he's basically built.

I'm also wondering what jumps out at people, looking at him, as a discipline he might be built for. Right now, I'm thinking he would be good on trails, because he's so curious and calm. I mentioned that to the trainer and she said maybe also trail classes. And then I thought working equitation.

This same trainer thought he wouldn't go far with jumping or dressage, even if he was good at them, because judges would be prejudiced against him because he doesn't fit the typical "look" in those sports.

Obviously, I'm going to try to figure out what he might like to do, I'm just wondering if, conformationally, there are any red flags that would prevent him from doing anything in particular. Or if he really seems like he's built for something in particular.


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I think more than what "we" think our horses are built for, it is what the horses brain is able and wanting to do that gives you the chance to excel at some specific part of the riding aspect of horse.

So, he has some things in how he is built that could/might give him a bit of difficulty to overcome if you were to ever ride him to his abilities and limit...
We'll get to those.... What it does seem is you have a horse with a great mind and trusting of can't buy that or make it. The animal is either blessed with it or they aren't....its why trail horses, the really good ones are worth so much money imo.

Head, profile is flat with a nice positioning of eye and shape, shorter profile, not a overly large jowl makes me think he was gelded at a appropriate age not later. He has a plain head, nothing out of the ordinary good or bad.
{please consider "taming" that forelock or banding it to get out of his eye and raising the chance of a eye infection}
Throatlatch.. to me it is not great or well defined could make some "finer" movements of collection and flex harder for him
Neck...still filling in and very little has developed on it to hint at what it can become. It is placed well on a high chest tie-in and also at a higher wither neck juncture...not what you wish to hear but could make a true saddle fit interesting but again, to soon to do any of that thinking.
Shoulder.. for me a bit to straight but has what appears a nice flat bone. I can't decide if the angle will limit his forward reach of that limb some, much or not at in progress and have to see as he begins to truly make muscle what shall be. I think he is going to be front-end heavy with his bone build seen
Wither and back...he has a defined wither, not to long nor to short. Meets the spine with a acceptable "dip". To me he is long backed. He still needs to gain some weight but more he needs to now build muscle to fill in the holes still seen and will not be in time.
Hind-end... Well, to me this is where the horse has it or not. The motor is here in the hind. Rowan has a steep croup, the part between the SI joint and tail head, very angled. His hip girdle is set considerably further back than optimum for movement. I was taught, " to steep weakens the hindquarters' ability to transfer energy forward and it can stress the lumbosacral joint", that is what I refer to as the SI joint.. This is also where you truly want the SI joint in line with the hip, not behind andn the further behind the weaker the hind often is. There is a want for some slope of the croup but not a overabundance either...think you have maxed the angle degree but to me it is the actual set-back hip juncture that can be a issue in some disciplines for a horse to use all of their body optimally. What he will be able to do with ease or more difficulty is to be seen. Withers are actually best if a bit above that croup in build of a horse. It is desirable in some breeds to have a flatter croup and more angled in others, having a nice mix that allows a working animal is what we all want.
Hind-leg... His is actually a very nice placement seen. If you drop a string from his point of buttock down it should just touch along at the hock point and down a straight line to back of fetlock/ankle and drop to the ground straight. TO me, he has a higher hock than maybe some would want. Rowan though to me seems a bit uncomfortable in his stance, a bit of tension I sense. With him still recovering from starvation and muscle waste or just none had, I say no more about angles or such cause they can all change.
I do hesitate knowing he is scarred on that hock that before you start to make decisions on what he become you have professional evaluation done to know he is able to successfully do a discipline you think he can... You only see the remnants but not trauma done and scarring that can impact the horse forever and that is my concern in choice of a vocation for him.

Underside of belly.... He is clean and no bumps or lumps seen in your picture. His sheath is a bit more prominent yet but that too may pull up and shape differently as the horses musculature develops and abdominal muscles and "lifting" of take place.
Front legs... They seem to do the job of supporting his weight. I can not tell from 1 picture if his legs are actually on the corners of his body trunk as they optimally are. His right front lower at the pastern bothers me with how "rounded" it seems. Makes me wonder if he had some trauma to that limb as his other front peeking does not seem to appear as round or thick. As his feet get the professional attention they truly really need his leg set & appearance can be altered a bit too by a quality trim made. I have not decided yet if he is "tied-in" at the knee or not...again that farrier care can alter a stance and change a appearance too....

What we can not tell is if the horse is narrow stance or wide or "normal". Cannot tell where his leg is placed to his body trunk...
We can not see if his hind legs are straight, tipped in or out at the hock and whether they again are set to the corner of his body or underneath making a narrow stance and prone for interference or other issues.
We can not comment on hooves since they have not done anything but self-trim and so far you have not made brought forth a farrier to start trimming and it is past time to do so. Explain to the farrier and go slowly, you don't have to do 4 feet in one what he can tolerate, but....ask those barn workers if they have worked with Rowans feet and do they think he is able to stand, support for a compassionate chill farrier to start their return to good hoof heath. Those workers will tell you. You, again are a pushover and "he can't do that" cause you don't demand but timidly yet.... this horse is able to do a lot more than you think!

Rowans coat begins to gleam from good, consistent food available and fed. He is being brushed and the natural oils in his coat are coming to the surface and seen. Elbow-grease and time show what you've spent working on him.
Now for me, his mane deters from his appearance greatly.
That limp hanging, split end and faded hunk of mane is no improvement to his appearance but a detriment, same as that forelock just hanging in his eyes.
Do not shorten it to 4" like a fancy show horse, but do remove the faded, the split ends, the lank and no-life of that mane and indeed he will again appear a different horse. The fact you were given a horse to bring home in this condition tells of how compromised he was that no one took the time to care more about his appearance seen. "Rescues" still need to entice people to want to take on a horse and when all they have to go on is looks....they don't often leave looking so unkempt to have mats and such dead length is what I've seen by me.

AC, there is a reason this horse was dumped and left to die by his appearance you got him and coming from a vets office as he did he was far worse and serious intervention needed or he was dead.
Someone dumped this animal and neglected his care of food fed....he was thrown-away.
In time you will find a reason if you keep him and the more you make threads and comments on him the more you are keeping him, he is not returning nor going to another. Its time to be honest with yourself.
He so far is a nice horse.
I see him as a nice trail horse with inquisitive attitude and not reactive and fearful....he thinks first.
To me its to soon to even think about under-saddle possibilities of equitation classes or anything in actuality.
This horse may hate a show-ring environment, absolutely hate it or he could love it and thrive in it....time will tell.
I think you must capitalize on his mind and calm demeanor and where those traits take you cause that is what he is and is happy sharing.

Till you get someone astride who knows what they are doing, a real trainer.... you also are not going to know if this horse has gaited in his natural repertoire either. That is a possibility since your area also has many gaited horses.
Time, you are still ahead of where you want to be...but gaining ground.
Till pictures of that hock though are done, till a evaluation of those front legs by a vet who specializes in build, lameness issues and is all a giant guess to what and where you proceed or do you have another lawn ornament as it could also be.
You have not mentioned having Rowan able to be out and truly run with the other horses where knowledgeable eyes can see and evaluate just by sight is where questions should be at this point. Are there seen issues, are there favoritism by him....:unsure:
Working in a round-pen to me shows nothing, but stresses a body that does not need it with scars and hints of issue is added stress bothers me to tax a body like his.

When you get a bit more basics on this horse, truly find a real trainer and take Rowan to them for 90 days so he will be done with all the introductions he needs, the holes you have because you truly don't know how-to are filled in and his education to being a riding horse takes shape. 90 days will give you a good base to work from....and as that end of time nears it will be your turn to get astride and learn how so you both speak and read from the same page, chapter and book.

I found you a easy tutorial of what you look for and why in evaluating a horses topline.... a beginners look at.

If nothing else you take from this long written post...
Rowan is a nice horse with good mind and decent body.
He has some issues but for most would not be earth-shattering and a no-go for any of us.

Preserve that mind and willingness he gives you and go real easy in that round pen with him as it gets very boring very fast to animals they mentally shut-down and is stress on a body added.
Do do something with that mane and forelock. It truly deters from his appearance and his eyes are at risk of infection from constantly having that hair rubbing across them. Its not pretty as you seem to think when you recognize the danger to eye-site it brings when dirt & debris is continually wiped across a cornea....
That is my opinion, but if this horse were in my care, the faded, dead and split would be gone. Leave the length but band it or loose braid it to get it out of his eyes. His mane would be brought to the length of the underside of his neck cause right now it makes him look thinner and still malnourished as it hangs to me.
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