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University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

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Balance is one of the most important criteria to consider when evaluating conformation. A well balanced horse should have a long neck, a long sloping shoulder, a short strong back, a long underline, a deep heart girth and a long sloping hip.

Muscling is located on the horse's entire body from the knees and hocks up. Areas of muscling to evaluate are the chest or pectoral region, the forearm, shoulder, loin, croup, stifle and gaskin.

Long, smooth and deep tying muscle rather than short, bunchy muscling is most desirable. Don't mistake fat cover for muscling. Muscle will have definition lines whereas fat cover will appear large but will not posses definition.

In order for horses to travel properly and correct they must be sound in their feet and legs. Structural correctness refers to the horse's bone structure in all four legs. When evaluating a horse's legs you should view them from the front, side and hind perspectives.

Quality is often referred to as type and style. Quality is a major selection criteria when evaluating breed and sex character, refinement and the horse's "general appearance." Breed character refers to a horse having distinct characteristics of its breed (ie: an Arabian horse usually has the characteristic dished face). Sex character refers to a horse having feminine or masculine appearances (ie: a mare or filly will generally be smaller in the jaw than that of geldings or stallions). Areas to be evaluated include the head, throat latch, neck, withers, bone, feet, hair coat and general condition.

Although you will not be able to observe each horse's travel at a walk and jog/trot here on these pages, it is still a critical aspect of the horse's overall usefulness and performance potential.

When evaluating travel you should first look for trueness of gait. Directness or trueness refers to the path the foot makes during a stride. A horse standing straight on its front column of bone should travel with one hoof right in front of another forming a straight line.