Monday, July 23, 2007

Good condition, bad horse/Bad condition, good horse

Sorry about the delay on this post but I discovered it was very, very hard to find side conformation pictures of horses in bad condition. Rescues seem to have a fondness for the 3/4 from the front shot and that doesn't work for this blog. My own rescues have all been to conformation what Lindsey Lohan is to sobriety, so I couldn't pull from my own photo collection. :-)

Several people have tried to explain away this blog by saying that I like horses who are in good condition and and the horses I criticize aren't really bad, they're just victims of poor condition/grooming. So today we are going to look at horses in good condition with bad conformation and in bad condition with good conformation. This is a useful lesson if horse shopping is in your future. Look at structure - not condition - and you will bring home a bargain.

The good condition/bad structure pair first.

You can't criticize the owners of this TB mare for not feeding her. She looks great. Maybe even be a bit too heavy. They stood her up square in front, one leg back and did their best to show her off. However, what they have shown off includes an unattractive totally unfeminine head with a pig eye, a short neck, and an unusually muttony pair of withers on a TB (might be better with less weight, but still, that mare's conformation is destined to land a careless rider in the dirt if they don't have their girth tight enough). She is over at the knee. I am still trying to find her shoulder to critique it...there is no definition there. She has a short croup, not terrible, but not ideal. Her tail obscures her hocks but I suspect she's quite straight even if she's not standing that way. She isn't an awful mare, but she's not a breeding quality mare, and unfortunately that's exactly what she's been doing. AND you can buy her with a breeding to either a homozygous black Arabian or a 17.3hh Dutch/TB-Clydesdale stallion. Good grief. Can you imagine a Clydesdale cross on this mare? May as well order the supersized halter and bridle in advance and you might need a sling to hold up the head of the baby until his body grows big enough to support it!

I would love to believe this AQHA stallion was standing on a huge slope, and I do believe he's standing on a bit of a downgrade...but not nearly enough to explain the position of his hip in relation to his shoulder. A classic FrankenHorse, his hind end seems to have been removed from an entirely different horse and attached to his incredibly weak loin. His pasterns are painfully upright and his shoulder is nearly vertical. He's sickle hocked and stands like he's in pain. (I bet his back hurts. Doesn't it look like it would be sore?) He's in good condition - a bit ribby but reasonable for a teenage stallion at the end of breeding season, his coat is beautiful and he's got a gorgeous tail and a cute head. Again, you can't fault these people for their horse care - but you can beat them over the head about the fact that this creature still has his testicles!

Now, the horses I like that are in terrible condition.

This old girl is 30 and she looks every minute of it. However, I would bet money this is a very well bred mare and that she was a hell of a horse in her day. She is very deep through the heart and I will bet she could run like the wind. Although her tail is high, the hip itself is long and powerful in appearance. She has an elegant neck, her front legs are still straight and her pastern angle is ideal. Those back legs look like they have been through a war and she is standing as though they barely hold her up, which I will bet is the case. She is definitely standing "funky" - that is not her hind end conformation but an attempt to keep her hind legs underneath her enough to hold her up. She's very thin and she's swaybacked but at her age that's not even an issue. It looks to me like she is someone's old broodmare (who was good enough to be a broodmare) that someone dropped the ball with. I am pleased to say this mare is in the care of a rescue that is giving her exactly what she needs. With that round bale in front of her, she will be back looking great (for her age) in no time.

Another rescue, this AQHA gelding is very thin but his structure still looks good. That is a textbook perfect shoulder, again we see a nice long hip that just needs 100 lbs. on it, good pasterns, good hock angle, compact frame, slightly upright build, neck set on properly and a cute face with small ears. No, I don't think he's 100% perfectly straight legged but I don't see anything there that would impair normal use.

All this nice boy needed was good feed, deworming and proper care and I am glad to say that he got it. See below.

Bet none of you Quarter Horse fans would kick this one out of your barn. He's a gelding but he's much nicer than many, many pictures I have posted of creatures who are reproducing. By the way, this transformation took one month. And he is over 20 years old, so any of you who truly believe old equals inevitably skinny can stick that moronic belief where the sun don't shine.
I should note that his rescuers are breeders, and the horses on their web site are breeding quality. Their stud is a 26 years old APHA Champion and looks great, still sound, riding and breeding. All of their studs are ridden - by youth riders. They do not have a bunch of rank, nasty, unbroke pukes reproducing like half of these sites I go to. They get two thumbs up from me.

Link of the day - check out this excellent page on Stopping Irresponsible Breeding. (I don't agree with everything she has to say about auction buying but I do think it's a good guide on auction buying for beginners. Her guidelines would keep you out of trouble, but as a knowledgeable person looking for a rescue, you could go against them and get a diamond in the rough.)