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I am a member of an equine artists' forum. Often times members post paintings and drawings of spirited Arabian horses in dramatic poses. I can hardly stomach the look when they show a horse with a face that literally looks like a SEAHORSE! I realize that many consider them beautiful, but to me, they sort of creep me out when they get even in the least bit extreme. Add in the oil around the eyes and nostrils and I am bafffled as to how this is considered beautiful.

On the other extreme, the photos of hyper muscled QH's , taken from a rear angle so that the butt is huge, the front legs so narrow they are knee knocking, the the head, hung low, tiny in that perspective. And, this is attractive???
I just don't get it. I don't.

You all? what equine esthetic appreciated by many do you find yourself at a loss to comprehend?
 

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I don't like any extreme breeding. Add bulldogs and Persian cats to the list...
 

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I’m not sure if it’s esthetics but that big lick business is completely confusing to me. Aside from the abuse that is present, why would they want their horses to move like that in the first place? I mean, dressage might look frivolous but it’s got an actual purpose. Maybe I just don’t know enough about big lick.

Also, Western pleasure - what’s up with that? It looks incredibly difficult to achieve - and the horse ends up cantering slower than a walk. Again, maybe I don’t know enough about it.
 

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There is a certain characteristic in a breed (be it horses,cats or dogs) that people think is attractive or eye catching and wham that characteristic is blown all out of proportion, magnified and bred into these poor animals to the state that they are actually bad for the animal and these poor animals have to live with these exaggerated ideas that people have decreed they must have.
 

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Some horses have tons and tons of mane, tail and/or feathers but poor conformation, and still people think the horse is gorgeous.
Nice hair does not equal a nice horse!


Another trait people think is beautiful is a lot of pink skin, which does not do an outdoor animal any favors.
 

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I appreciate average. Seriously. I don't really admire the "best" of any breed.

I DO appreciate good care. Horse has high maintenance hair and the owner or groom keeps it nice? Yay. Albinos and the owners/ grooms manage that condition well? Yay. Skinny legs? Cow hocked? Straight pasterns? Meh.

I can find faults on almost any horse, including my own. But, if they are well cared for, and have a life suited to their brains and conformation, I'm happy for all involved.
 

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The halter lines for many of these arabs look like someone stepped on their face. They don't have the brains God gave a squirrel and look like they'd blow away in the wind. The picture below looks crazy to me. "Typey" or no, how's that animal going to get air through that squashed face? This is horrible looking.

Horse Sky Liver Working animal Sorrel


This is better but...what even is this confirmation? Still not visually appealing, an I'm an Arab lover.
Horse Liver Grass Plant Mane


But this? Still a smaller head, but no squish face, and the wisdom and gentle intelligence behind those eyes is far preferable to the crackhead eyeballs of the first horse.

Brown Horse Sky Ecoregion Working animal


Hair Horse Head Eye Working animal


Still a dished face here but not cursed looking like the top two. He's pretty from this angle, but the chestnut is lovely. The black one looks like he may be spooking at something though.
 

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As an Arabian breed lover, I agree with the sentiments expressed by TINYLILY and Chie TheRider. Back when I began riding Arabians it was the long neck that was in fad. Some Arabians look like giraffes. I cannot speak for other breeds because I've never ridden other breeds. But when I began riding Arabians, I was astounded by the number of Arabian horse breeders who didn't ride any of the horses they bred. They bred for "hot" horses because that was what the breed was supposed to be. But then they couldn't ride them. Doesn't that demonstrate you're doing something wrong? Just the other day, I met an older lady who said she had been breeding, showing and selling Arabians for several decades. She didn't ride. I have to say that I think the sport of Competitive Trail and Endurance Riding brought some common sense into the breeding of Arabians in the USA. They possibly saved the Arabian breed in this country.
 

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IT is hard to comprehend the appeal of Big Lick movement.. Those who follow it say , "It's tradition". is that a reason, . . . . or an excuse?
"It's tradition" excuses a lot of things, in the sense that it's an excuse not to more deeply examine the reasons behind why something is done. I think that's true of a lot of practices, including why animals are bred to a certain standard, or why things are done a certain way in terms of showing, training, or competition. It's true in EMS, it's true in sports as well (I see it a LOT in hockey/youth hockey).

I agree with @Woodhaven that sometimes desirable characteristics that were functional are identified and then exaggerated to an absurd and dangerous or unhealthy way.

(That said, I don't mind things being stylized in art, as long as it's consistent and in keeping with the rest of the work. Excessive realism can get awfully dull.)
 

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My neighbor used to have a stallion that came off the Hearst Ranch, San Simeon Arabians. He looked a great deal like that chestnut in the above pics.
They used him on their daughters of their older horse, a son of El Hilal. They raised some nice ones, but our area was just not Arabian horse country. Soc looked just like his sire.
 

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As to the "diaper butt", you're describing halter horses. AQHA is so diverse that you can find any "type" you want just by discipline. And no, I don't find halter horses attractive either.
 

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I've seen the same trend in humans too, they become addicted to plastic surgery to change their look to "perfect" but it ends up looking like a caricature rather than anything resembling a real human. I've seen some that I'd have thought the surgeon should have been sued for malpractice but the person seemed happy with their results. Another one that the woman wanted to look like a barbie doll. Huge fail in my opinion. Barbie looked more real than she did and the woman still wasn't satisfied and wanted more done.
 

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I think Arabians are/were beautiful. No idea why anyone would think that making them look like a seahorse was a good idea. It destroys their functionality. Totally agree about the big lick and western pleasure. My biggest issue with the big lick is what they do to the horse to make them do that ridiculous gait it just screams horse in pain to me. What is the point with the western pleasure gaits? Would you really find that way of going a pleasure if you were trying to go on a trail ride?
 

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I don't like extremely long tails that drag on the ground--I like it to stop at the fetlock or a bit higher. And this is coming from a person that loves long manes and tails LOL!

Hair Horse Plant Liver Working animal
 

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I think over breeding is one of the worst things people have done to animals. Probably part of the reason I was always attracted to Mustangs or other horses that have been left alone. If it's really bad for survival it gets weeded out, too silly for their own good goes the same way. Why would anyone want a dainty horse when people keep getting bigger. And why does western shows make horses drag their heads low so they all look like they're ill.
 
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