Thursday, August 21, 2008

Conformation 101

My dander is up. All at once, I am furious and happy. Our dear Mrs Mom has at long last found a horse that has caught her fancy and is working hard to get it shipped from Oregon all the way to the Southland. Now I am sure that those of you who read my blog, also read Mrs Mom's so you are all probably aware of this...and how MM come to find this mare...
This mare was posted on the Fugly Horse of The Day blog and people were ripping the poor girl to shreds. For what? Because she is a mixed breed...Okay, she is a really mixed breed, grade mare...that also happens to be bred. It would seem from the comment section of FUGLY that this mare had every conformation fault possible. The ones I remember are ugly head, horrible neck and long back. Wow...it's a wonder this mare manages to walk around as poorly conformed as they say she is.
I wonder what they would have said about her if they saw this picture instead???
Kinda hard to find all the stuff they said was wrong with her huh? Lets see if we can find any other conformation faults that the other picture didn't show...In this picture she looks like she toes in and is rather high in the hock. Some still might say that she is plain headed.

This trash talking PISSES ME OFF!!!! Wanna know why? Because most of the dipshits from fugly, that are talking trash and spitting out conformation faults on the "purportedly" fugly horses posted on the blog...DON'T KNOW SHIT from shinolla!! But I'm not gonna go in that direction with this post.

Nope, in this post, I am going to list all the positives this mare has going for her. Because that is what judging horses is about. It is about finding the horse that is the most positive example of what a breed standard has to offer. Obviously, I am a stock-horse type of girl and this mare more closely resembles a stock-horse than her bloodlines would suggest. They say she is 1/2 TB, 1/4 Draft(I see Belgian in those big old hips of hers, yes I do) and 1/4 Appaloosa.

Now lets find those positives...
#1-She has all 4 legs. None of her legs are deformed, or carry big scars that could possibly affect her movement. Bonus Points!
#2-She has good bone and flat knees. Oh yes, that was one of the comments...someone said she was behind in the knees. I don't see it. The way she is standing could probably fool someone who doesn't know a lot about structural elements. She has nice big feet. She's a good sized girl-sure wouldn't want to see her standing on tiny little feet. Double bonus points!
#3-I like the set of her hocks in this picture. The way she is standing indicates to me that she is capable of getting up underneath herself and powering off that hind leg. Double bonus points again!
#4-Do you guys see that stifle? OMG-can we say power!! Tie off on a big old cow in the pasture and you do not have to be worried about getting drug around.
#5-Nice wither. Bet she holds a saddle well.
#6-She cinches deep.
#7-Nice, clean throatlatch
#8-This mare is long from eye to muzzle. Gee, do you think the TB had anything to do with that? You know, they really are known for having such nice, short heads-LOL...snort, choke. But, she is not "ugly" headed. She has a nice eye(very important MM) and is refined about the muzzle with large nostrils. And I like her ears. Oh yes, the ears are judged too. Hers may be a tad long(there is that TB again), but they are refined and well-shaped.

Now what do we see in this picture??
#1-There is that powerful stifle again. Sorry, I run barrels and my brother ropes...that particular piece of conformation is very important to us. That big booty is my engine and I do so like to go fast-LOL.
#2-Still a nice wither.
#3-Still cinches deep and has a nice round barrel. And the way her flank ties in looks much nicer.
#4-Still like her ears and now we can see that broad forehead and the nice eyes, set where they should be. She is still long from eye to muzzle, but you can see that her face is refined.

This picture really makes a person think long and hard about that hock set. But if you look at the left hind foot, you can visualize how the leg comes up and sets in. The right hind is deceiving, because it is back behind the vertical. Also, this mare doesn't tie in terribly deep(TB influence) so it makes the right hock look higher than it really is.

Of course, there is one spot that we never see and that is her front-end. I bet MM has seen a picture of it though...so she can tell me if I am wrong. The way that this mare's elbow sticks out in both pictures, sort of indicates to me that she may be somewhat flat chested(hey...I have the same problem myself, surely that can't be a fault?) and lacking in a nice V. Depending on the width between the points of her shoulders, she may or may not be somewhat rough to ride at the lope.

I will agree that the one picture of this mare makes her look long in the back, but...BUT...A long back, by itself indicates very little. A horse with a nice slope to the shoulder...and by the way, I think this mare's shoulder slope is average, and she should have a nice length of stride. As I was saying, a horse with a nice slope to the shoulder and low set hocks is seldom, if ever, hindered in any way by a longer back. Actually, a longer back, as long as it is strong, can give a horse a tremendous ability to break in the loin and bury his butt in those wonderful reining horse slides, everyone loves to watch. A long back is really only a fault in a halter class or if it is coupled with high set hocks and a straight shoulder.

See faults are relative. A single "fault" is not so much a fault as a possible limiting factor. The best thing to understand about faulting a horse is to know what faults are common and how they affect the movement of the horse, i.e-straight shoulders affect the length of stride on the front end, a high hock set affects a horse's ability to get his hind end up underneath himself for quick stops, roll backs or his "push-off" ability. Some faults commonly come with another fault...straight shoulders and short pasterns.

And never forget...For every limitation someone says a fault can cause...there is a horse out there that will prove that they can overcome it!!

Best of luck to you Mrs Mom, getting your new girl home. If there is anything I can do to help, let me know. I'm off my soapbox and off to bed. Crude, it is going to be a long day of shingling!!

24 comments:

Laura said...

Thanks for posting this - I couldn't agree with you more. I don't have your experienced conformation eye, but I didn't see that this horse was such a train wreck as they made her out to be...

Here's hoping MM can get her home!

fssunnysd said...

She has a cute face, or at very least, a kind expression, which goes a long way toward making any horse more attractive, IMHO.

I also kind of like her back end. She certainly has the look of power. (Although the second picture is definitely more flattering!) But then, I grew up with the bulldoggy style QHs that FHOTD doesn't like. Yes, they are often short-coupled and blocky, but they have their strengths, too. (I also like the round, compact, more substantial looking Arabs rather than the whippy, greyhound-esque ones that seem to be so popular these days.)

Good luck to Mrs. Mom, and congrats to the mare on her upgrade.

ranchette said...

Amen sister!

Mrs Mom said...

LMAO... Ohh BECG--- you rock. Totally. I saw everything that you did, and you put it into words beautifully for me. Thank you.

The first thing that caught me was this filly's eye. (Sorry--- thats the TB in me talking. If they are under 5 yr old, they are fillies and colts. This girl is 3, therefore, a filly...lol) Then her hip, then her bone, then her hind end... and on and on .... Her color? Yep, I like it! Love the mane too ;) (I hate pulling manes. Hers will be long forever.)

She has some "mental" issues, from the sound of things that stem from handling issues somewhere along the way. But first and foremost- remember she is Appy. She is TB. She is draft (either Bravant Belgian, or old style Percheron in that hip set there.) Mix those three- and ALL three of them are thinkers, and all three of them are very self-aware, and you are going to have a horse that is going to take their sweet time deciding Who Shall Handle Them, and How.

But once you form that partnership with a horse like that, there WILL be a bond for LIFE, and they'll move mountains for you if you ask them to.

Yeah- I want her. Watch my blog for ideas from me, on how to help raise the funds to get her from OR, to here!

(No, I am NOT begging donations! Instead, I will have a massive online garage sale, and raise the money the old fashioned way!)

Thanks again BECG, for putting out all the good about this filly!

kdwhorses said...

You go BECG!!! I totally agree. I have never been to this FUGLY site, it is probably a good thing I never go! Anywho~this mare is a nice looking mare. And lawsie me did you see the butt on this girl! That ='s speed & pull! Me and you think the same way! Thanks for putting this up for Mrs. Mom and stating the facts! I hope and pray that she can get this mare, if it is meant to be.
Stay on your soapbox girl~you rock! I get on mine quiet often!

kdwhorses said...

BECG-Now I'm p*ssed I just googled this Fugly site. Oh my hell! I'm fuming now! I knew I shouldn't have gone to it, but couldn't stand it! I wasn't going to leave a comment, but did! It seems all they want to do is bash others to make themselves feel better. And half of them, like you said, don't know sh*t from shinola! UGH! Then they were bashing alittle girl for standing on a horse! WTF??? I stand on ours all the time and so does little cowgirl and we don't wear helmets! I'm sure FUGLY will have a heart attack when they read my comment or god forbid if they ever visited my blog! Because according to them I care nothing for my child when I let her ride without a helmet and let her stand on our horses! Please~these people need to get a life!
Off my soapbox now!

Andrea said...

I had no idea that site excisted!! I have not been over to it and by the sounds of it I don't want to.
When I saw that first picture all I thought was, "Dang who ever took that picture should not ever venture into equine photography." That is a horrible photo. Any horse that had it's picture taken at that angle would look horrible. I should take some of my horses and show them it all depends on the angle.

I liked her in that first photo. I thought BIG bones. I bought my TB mare when everyone thought she was "ugly". But with a little feed and some love she is beautiful. I can't believe people get off saying things like that.

I like that little mare, and that she is only three, holy smokes she is going to get wider!! I love finding horses like that. Ones that nobody will look at because it's ugly, but then six months latter when you are loping circles around them it's pretty funny. WHuauauauauau, insert evil laugh!! LOL :)

Oh, and I love a horse with a big old head. I like them like that. Sure that cute QH head is nice, but I love my big headed TB.

20 meter circle of life said...

You may have started something here my friend!! I want you to do a confirmational expose on the Booster!! I know he is not perfect and am always trying to figure such things out. Are you game???

OnTheBit said...

I thought that everyone out there in horse blog world loved Fugly but me. I refuse to read it. If I want to hear people making rude comments about horses they don't know I will go to a show thank you very much! And I know very little about conformation so it was great to hear you critique (and praise) and be able to go back and look at the picture. I really appreciate you taking the time out to really look and then be able to teach us all by what you see. Thank you for the "lesson"! And I really hope MM gets this filly!

Palomino Girl said...

I have found from experience that that camera-holder makes all the difference in a horse like this!! I can't tell you how many pics I have of my gelding that make his shoulders look narrow, his hip pointy, his back extremely long, etc.

This little mare isn't bad looking. She's a little out of shape, but has a real nice hip, and is pretty proportionate! My mom has taught me to always look for a kind eye, as well. And like my grandpa always said, "Pretty is as pretty does."

Callie said...

Ditto! And I agree with you 100% I checked her out after speaking with Mrs Mom and I figure Fugly must be hard up for material. I thought this mare is pretty good lookin'.

Adventures Of A Horse Crazed Mind said...

Good job!!!! You are so bang on! I dont believe in "backyard breeding" but I know a lot of horses that FHOTD would pick to pieces that can blow the socks off your average well conformed horse! How about Seabiscuit!!!?!?! He was horribly conformed for his job. I am not saying that conformation is not important, but you have to look at the overall picture. I riding reining horses so agreed with a lot of what you pointed out on that mare. Hollywood Dun It was one and half horses long! He used his long back to stamp amazing stops on his get! I have a killer well bred mare that is a wicked reiner that has a front left leg that is turned in and out of line. She has been in hard training for 9 months and hasnt take an off step *knocking on wood*. Smart Little Lena, the greatest cutting horse sire of all time had horribly crooked legs that he passes on to his foals! Not to mention what photos can do to the look of a horse. I once waited months to go see a really nicely bred mare with NRHA earnings that was dirt cheap. She wouldnt sell because the pictures of her showed this nasty looking plain bay mare. When I finally went to see her, I didnt even recognize her as the same horse. She was stunning! and perfectly put together! I missed out on her (learned my lesson about not leaving a deposit) but what a steal because of poor photography. I loved your rant! Good luck Mrs Mom with that cute little mare!

The Knutson's said...

You go girl!!!!!

I visit Fugly regulary, just so I can laugh at what she posts, and the at the responses that she gets. I agree...a lot of the people that respond don't necessarily seem to know what they are talking about...they are just followers.

I too, looked at the other pics of Mrs. Mom's mare, and I agree that she does have some fine qualities :)
Afterall...it's not the poor mare's fault that she is not perfect and that people bred her!

Mikey said...

We all know how I feel about fuglyhorse. Mob mentality going on there, and a lot of people with nothing better to do than trash a horse or person.
I like the mare. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many a good horse was not "perfect" looking, but I think she's not bad at all. Seen (and own) lots worse!

Saddle Mountain Rider said...

I agree with those who question the camera angle, however, there is no doubting the way you have critiqued her conformation. This 3 year old filly has every right to prove herself and i hope that someone as knowledgeable as Mrs. Mom can give her a chance.
When did the "Fugly Horse" people lose that childhood opinion that we all had at one time that "all horses are beautiful?"

Cheryl said...

THANK YOU! I love your comments about the horse. Sometimes I think the "mob personality" takes hold over there as they all plunge off the cliff.

GNH said...

To be frank, conformation is bull***. Anyone who knows anything about genetics understands this. What one giveth, one must take away. What I mean is the way genetics works if you emphasize some trait like a characteristic that would be considered good "conformation" then some other trait is likely to suffer, like disposition. Think about it. Met any math or engineering geeks lately? Most of them aren't very good in social situations. In a horse, its hard to simultaneously breed good looks and a calm disposition. If you are breeding generally you're going to have to select for one or the other. Back in the day when people relied on horses for transportation and work, such BS as conformation didn't matter as much as say a horse that didn't spook or buck you off. So this poor horse in the picture might have one hell of a personality and be a better ride than some wacked out Arabian that looks pretty.

Jamie said...

Everybody/thing has their/it's faults. I'm sure what she has in "faults" she makes up for in personality.

Leah Fry said...

Thank you for another view of thi8s horse. It is obvious I have much to learn about conformation.

Pony Girl said...

Great post and summary, BEC. I love that mare's color and my first thought was "bad photo" not "ugly horse." I visited Fugly once a year ago and have not been back. It's too negative. Even though my horse is has good conformation, I have bad photos of him that would would probably qualify him to be ripped apart on that site!
Can't wait to catch up on Mrs. Mom's story on the filly, I've been so busy and way behind on blog reads this week!

Train Wreck said...

"Shinola!" LMAO!!! Girlfriend you are too funny!! It's too bad we can't find those highschool photos of the "horse graders!" I mean if you are going to judge a horse by a photo, let's be fair!! Get more than one photo! Find out more about the horse. Lawza Daisy if I was put in a catalog with only a photo to sell me? Sad lonely day!!
Great post! I agree totally!
Ps stop by my page for a little something...love ya!

Paige said...

Good for Mrs Mom.

The Fugly mob is absurd--and the number one reason I cannot tolerate it is demonstrated in the discussion of this horse. You flat cannot possibly see or know all she claims to in one photo of a horse. She is forever ripping up horses claiming they have bad legs, etc, when it is clear to anyone without an agenda that the horse is just standing funny. And how she extrapolates that into the other crap she comes up with floors me.

Even worse is her minions who think she is spouting the gospel. You can tell the few that have any idea what they are talking about and they are few and far between.

It is also interesting to see some of the comments on there written by people I know in real life who better hope Fugly never knocks on their door, as they will be featured right up there with the ones they are whining about.

Yep, gets my goat, it does

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Paige-I always figured that about some of those fugly commentors. That makes me laugh to know that my suspicions were correct.

I get angry because of the lack of common sense and the lemming reaction. LOL-I have never claimed to be anything but what I am-A back yard breeder of foundation horses. We have barbed wire, seldom worm, never give shots and have 10y/o's that aren't broke to ride. I am everything that fugly rants against and yet...we have nice horses, seldom get a wire cut, never have horses dying of colic or disease, don't have starving horses and do not dump horses at auction. My daughter and I can take any horse we chose, work with them for a little while and go to a horse show or barrel racing and win or place consistently. I have pulled horses out of loose pens at auctions, fixed em' up and sold them for a nice profit to people who really enjoy them.
Nice fences and a good vet cannot and will never make you a good horsemen, trainer or rider. If these people put as much effort into actually using their horses the way we do, they would have a lot less time to bitch about how poorly everyone else does things.

Thanks for the comment!!

Paige said...

I absolutely agree with you--there is a difference between putting your horse to work and making him something useful and visiting him at the 700 a month boarding barn that has pretty PVC fences.

Two different kind of people.

Although right now, I wish I could put mine all in the boarding barn and say sayonara--I had a rough nite getting through to BOTH horses I rode tonight. I am frustrated. But tomorrow is another day