It is nice to be appreciated.

Today I received two compliments – one via email and one as a comment on this site and both were unsolicited. I was also informed that another individual recommended one of my books to a noted trainer.

1 – I have learned a great deal from you and your books, and I am no longer navigating the stormy waters of horse purchasing without an excellent compass! Thank you so much for your practical physics and math based approach to functional conformation. Knowledge is power!

2 – I learned from the clinic I took with you that like all living things we are all built with certain strengths and weaknesses. All one has to do is look at the worlds better long distance runners. They are lean and have very long legs, (thighs). It is not usual to see the short dumpy people in these events. Nor is it usual to see those in the racing world doing well in weight lifting. I look forward to taking another clinic with you.

Thank you very much for taking the time to write to me regarding your views. And thank you for recommending my work to others.


To Be or Not To Be Quoted

That is the question.

Every so often I google myself, which, despite sounding rather strange, can be informative for me. It is nice to read unsolicited comments.


I often find that I am quoted incorrectly or that I am used as the proof to someone’s opinion even though that ‘proof’ is inaccurate. I have found that this is particularly evident in various forums.

For instance: I have never declared that sprinters are built downhill, and most certainly have not studied racehorses with that ‘view’ in mind. In fact, I have often asked people to define ‘downhill’ in general (not racing specific) and asked for examples. Of the examples presented to me with a description of ‘butt higher than withers’, all of the mature ones have actually measured higher in the withers than at the croup…at least so far.

Maybe the next time someone points out a horse that is built downhill, you can measure it and see if it really is or whether it is an optical illusion.

One of the goals I hold dear is to be objective and to not mislead. Therefore, I try to avoid falling prey to optical illusions. In my PowerPoints, one of the first things I do is show how optical illusions can fool our eyes. Some of you may recall looking at photos right side up and then up side down. And remember, my first book was entitled Ten Conformation Myths.

As to the comments that I expect all horses to compete at the top level of a particular sport or discipline, all I can say is that one has to set the bar somewhere when trying to help people understand how conformation affects function. One way is to use the world’s best horses in order to demonstrate how they function so well in their sport/discipline and how they differ from horses in other sports/disciplines. They are used as ideals or points for comparison – and perhaps as goals for breeders and/or competitive riders and coaches – not as the only acceptable type.

Do I believe that all horses need to be built to be the best in the world? No, but I do believe that we humans need to understand that just because our horse is by Famous Stallion and from Champion bloodlines through the dam, it may not be built to meet human expectations. By showing how far a horse is from championship form (functional conformation) or from the ideal for a certain sport/discipline (functional conformation) , we should be able to set realistic expectations for that individual and keep it happy and sound within its own comfort zone. That is my sincerest wish for every horse, and it has been for a long time.

Those who have emailed me within the past couple of decades or so may well have noticed the following quote in my replies:

"My goal - as always - has been to do well by the horse. 
That usually is in the best interests of horsemen as well, 
though I know that what I say and do is not always (hardly ever!) 
appreciated in the short run." James Rooney, DVM

A Blip or Two

Sorry to have been so long between posts on this site, but I had to deal with some health irregularities. Happily, they have been remedied and I am now working my way back to the norm…ok…my norm, whatever that is.

In the interim, I’m glad to report that book sales have been moving along with sales to clients in Germany, South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Canada and the United States in the last few months. And I also did some online evaluations – pre-purchase advice, breeding recommendations, etc. – for clients in a few different countries.

The Future

There’s talk of a clinic/seminar near Temecula in Riverside County in California in the coming months, so stay tuned for specific dates. The organizers are thinking sooner rather than later.

If interested in attending as an observer and/or as a participant, please express your interest by the end of February, and please include your discipline(s) of interest.
Contact Cynthia Godby:

The agenda is not yet set, but there is a possibly of a mixed session (various breeds and disciplines) on Saturday and a dressage-specific session on Sunday. So far the audience is likely to include jousters, eventers, barrel racers, dressage riders and trainers.

Who knows? If this one is well received, perhaps we can do another in late October or early November when I am in the general area covering the Breeders’ Cup horse races at Santa Anita.

In the meantime, I will continue to give some thought to the next e-book. I’m leaning towards doing one on Athleticism, Soundness and Longevity that is not breed or discipline specific.

What say you?

Upcoming Clinic in Alberta


November 21/22 @ Birch Bay Ranch
Day 1 –Conformation and Function PowerPoint plus Hands-on Session
Day 2 – Riding Your Horse for How it is Built
Register with Shirley: (780) 662-4747 or

It has been a while…

I could list several excuses, but the truth is that I simply lacked the motivation to post much of anything on this site. That is something that came to a head – or saturation point – after the WEG experience last year. Other happenings within the horse industry as well as with some of the magazines in which I am published did nothing to improve the situation.

But any lack of motivation is on me. It is up to me to get over it or move in other directions. I have done some of the latter as of late.
Watching the ParaPan Am Games on TV reminded me that mindset plays a huge roll in what one can accomplish and what one can overcome with a willingness to adapt.
Recently, I have been watching the IAAF championships in track and field with an eye towards the bone structures most suited for the various sports. There are correlations between the mechanics of certain human sports and the mechanics of various equine sports. Therefore, I consider the time spent as research and not purely enjoyment.
Usain Bolt is a prime example. No doubt he is an ideal sprinter given his record, but, at one time, he was considered too tall to be a sprinter and was steered towards middle distance running. Aside from his height, he is, to my eye, built exactly like a sprinter when it comes to bone structure and proportions.
This serves as a lesson regarding how we determine in which direction to send a horse. I seem to recall that Gifted at nearly 18 hands was considered to be too tall for dressage and that Touch of Class at just over 15 hands was considered too small for jumping. Hickstead had several knocks against him, including his height, but he won Olympic gold anyway.
So…guarding against making inaccurate assumptions should be important, right? I hope that is the case with the recent Young Horse competitions, but I find the lack of objective measures to still be a hurdle to accurately predicting future excellence and, more importantly, long term soundness. I think using more objective measures would benefit the horses, the breeders and the buyers. In addition, the Young Horse programs would benefit through an increase in more precise predictions.
It is important to remember that maintaining the status quo is usually a human decision. Nothing stays stagnant in nature. Some people have positions to protect, some have egos to guard and so on, but if you think using objective measures is a better idea, it is up to you (singly and cooperatively) to affect the required changes.

A Change of Plans

Life happens and plans change. In the horse world one has to be flexible.

Contrary to the original intention of covering the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas and then the Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event and the Kentucky Cup, I will be covering the Las Vegas competitions only.

The Kentucky portion of the spring trip has now been cancelled.

Due to family health issues, Cathy will not be accompanying me; therefore, I will pass on the Kentucky events since I was there last year and can write my pedigree articles without attending the competitions.

Hopefully I will be in Kentucky for the Breeders’ Cup races and the Keeneland Mixed Sale in the fall.

Major Road Trip in April

autumn road (Small)It is official:

I will be at the World Cup Finals and maybe the Arabian Breeders Cup in Las Vegas.
And yes, I will also be covering Rolex Kentucky and the Kentucky Reining Cup.

That amounts to no less than four disciplines – dressage, jumping, eventing, reining – through the final three weeks of April. And, since we’ll be in Kentucky, maybe some breeding farms for Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds or whatever.

Distances? A minimum of 5,400 miles or 8,700 km for the journey. I envision at least two oil changes for the car.

Cathy, the other owner of Hero’s Tribute, will be joining me to help with the workload and the driving. That will be a welcomed relief, but I wonder what sort of trouble we can get into.

If any of you are going to attend these competitions, maybe we can get together at some point. It is always great to meet in person and talk horse.

Since we will be driving to the venues, there will also be some flexibility regarding farm visits for those folks who live along the routes.

Tentative routes:
I-15 South from Alberta to Las Vegas
I-40 East from Arizona to Amarillo
(I-70 through St. Louis if the weather is bad along I-40)
Various possibilities from Amarillo to Lexington
Various possibilities from Lexington to Alberta

What do you think?

It has been an idea I’ve had for a while now and something I hope to start later this year. What is this idea: a site for online equine courses.

Yes, I will post some courses that equate with my clinics and seminars on functional conformation, but I was thinking that there are many more possibilities.

There could be short courses and/or long courses, basic knowledge courses and/or specialized courses, and courses on a variety of topics. There could be courses for novices, courses for breeders, courses for riders, courses on various disciplines or sports, and courses based on interviews with top people in the industry, etc.

Are there any other topics – aside from conformation and pedigree – that appeal to anyone? I was thinking of contacting other contributors so that the website (domain already purchased) could be more of a full-service experience. I do not need to be the only author on the site. Some courses could possibly be written by other authors.

What areas within the industry do you think should be addressed? Would short courses on issues of basic horsemanship be of use? How to know when to call the vet? How to assess the job your farrier did?


Please let me know what would be of interest to you. I will appreciate all suggestions.
Thank you in advance!