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When you describe good conformation, what do you look for? Do you look for equal thirds or a well-laid back shoulder? How about an ‘inverted V’ in the horse’s chest? This book looks at ten common conformation myths and compares them to photos of top equine athletes in all disciplines. The results may surprise you.
Ten Conformation Myths is sold as a PDF e-book and includes over 190 images (photos, illustrations and charts) and 102 pages of text. Plus, as a bonus, you’ll receive a second PDF file containing all the images shown in the book in large format for easier viewing. Photos are marked to illustrate the points made in the text.
Table of Contents
Myth #1 – Evaluating Conformation Starting at the Front
Myth #2 – The Rear Plumb Line
Myth #3 – Length of Back
Myth #4 – Stifle Placement
Myth #5 – Equal Thirds for a Balanced Horse
Myth #6 – Same Stride Length Front and Back
Myth #7 – Shoulder Angle
Myth #8 – Straight Front Legs for Soundness
Myth #9 – Point of Shoulder
Myth #10 – Elbows
Writing about conformation as it applies to function is a very difficult thing because each part of a horse is not only linked to other parts, one part can affect the function of others. It is also a visual subject, which is why there are so many photos in this book. And on top of that, in the written form, things tend to be adopted as absolutes, but there are few absolutes when it comes to the conformation of a performance horse.
Good conformation means different things to different people, but to me it meansstructurally suitable for the job – built to function.
Function is not something that is all that foreign to us. We apply our knowledge of it without thinking in all sorts of ways. For instance, we understand the principles of a teeter-totter. Add or subtract a little weight from one end or the other and it affects the balance. Move the fulcrum, or balance point, even slightly, and once again you have affected the balance. You can affect the balance of a teeter-totter in 3 basic ways – adding weight, subtracting weight or changing the balance point – but you can also do these things in a variety of combinations. The possibilities are nearly endless.
The various effects are determined by the degrees of change. Add a lot of weight to one end of the teeter-totter and the result is dramatic compared to the effect of adding just a little weight.
You can also make changes and have the same balance. You can add weight to both ends or you could change the weight at one end then move the fulcrum and still maintain balance.
If you find yourself on an unbalanced teeter-totter, you can automatically compensate in order to correct the balance without even thinking. That is not something you were born knowing; it is something you learned, but now, it’s second nature.
We look at monster trucks and know that we wouldn’t want to drive one for several hours on a winding highway. We look at a sports car and know that it should be a joy to drive on that same road. We can also tell which one is functionally constructed for speed. Again, that’s acquired knowledge.
We spot a horse and say, he’ll be a good jumper, hunter, reiner, dressage mount, racehorse, or whatever, but we may not have acquired the knowledge to be accurate in our predictions. We don’t always pay close attention to how horses are functionally constructed and how they actually function.
Most horse people can judge straight legs and prominent withers, but from there it starts to fall apart. They usually look at muscling instead of the bone structure. You can change a horse’s muscling through training, but you can never change his skeleton.
Once you find a horse with suitable structure for your purpose, then you can assist by developing the muscles. A horse with the wrong structure for a job may improve slightly with muscling, but he will never reach anywhere near the top of that sport, while horses with the right structure can do that job fairly well even with limited training.
A slight difference in the length of a bone or a degree or two of difference in an angle can evoke dramatic changes in a horse’s ability. For example, imagine how much heavier on the forehand a horse can become if nothing else changes except the point of shoulder is a mere finger width lower. For example, the horses in these photos differ greatly in how heavy they are on the forehand.
Developing your eye for the functional aspects of conformation – what lets a horse jump well, what helps hold collection, what makes him efficient – is something we can all do and something we can apply to our breeding choices, our selection of prospects and our training methods.
I believe that if you can identify the skeletal features that make a horse suited or not suited to a particular job, you have a valuable tool at your disposal…and our horses will be happier doing what comes easily.
(Equine Canada Level II Coach & English Horsemanship Instructor at Olds College)
“I have encouraged coaches, riders and trainers to purchase this book ever since I saw a pre-release copy. When they ask why, my response is that it will help you select horses based on function instead of myth. I also recommend they attend a clinic.”
William H. L. (Bill) desBarres
(Councillor Breeds & Industry Division Equine Canada)
“The book, Ten Conformation Myths by Judy Wardrope, and the relative revelations for equine form to function will be an asset to the horse industry for years to come. I can comfortably recommend that any horse person can gain from the information, and performance horse people should avail themselves of a clinic by Judy at their earliest possible convenience.”
(owner and breeder of Warmbloods and Sport Ponies)
“After having been to a few of Judy’s clinics and presentations, this book really adds to what I have learned and substantiates it. It contains practical information in regards to form to function, not just conformation. As a breeder, I need to look at the function of my mares and choose a stallion wisely to compliment the mare. Performance is different from conformation classes, and we breeders, riders, trainers, etc. need to really help our horses excel in what they are built for and not what we would like them to do. There is a difference, and this book puts that into perspective from ‘hind to fore’ with lots of informational pictures that help demonstrate the myths we’ve followed.”
Equine Journalist, Public Relations Consultant, Level I EC Certified Coach
“For anyone who has attended one of Judy Wardrope’s “Improving Your Eye
for Functional Conformation” clinics, this book will prove to be an invaluable
resource, reminder and frequently used reference. Anyone who hasn’t attended
the clinic yet – should – before they even consider buying or breeding another horse!”
To see what others thought of e-books by Judy Wardrope go to http://www.jwequine.com/books-by-judy-wardrope/survey-results-2/