Horses are judged according to their conformation and performance.
This usually occurs during horse show, but also extends into
our daily selection criteria. By understanding how to adequately
identify positive conformation traits, a horseman or horsewoman
can more accurately select horses for purchase, performance
and breeding stock.
Some people are professional horse judges. These individuals
have expertise in evaluating and ranking horses according to
specific criteria determined by a breed association or other
governing organization. Horse show judges generally spend years
studying and perfecting equine evaluation. Many horse show judges
gain experience by judging horses as youth or college students
at horse judging contests.
A horse judging contest provides an opportunity for individuals
and teams to develop and practice their horse judging skills
in a competitive setting. Contestants judge a series of classes
(as many as 12 classes per contest) consisting of four horses
each. Contestants then rank or place each class and take notes
so they can later give oral reasons (an explanation of why they
ranked a class a particular way.) Each contestant may be asked
to give as many as four sets of oral reasons, each to an individual
person, one on one. A contestant's rank or placing of classes
is then compared to an official placing determined by a panel
of judges. Each class is worth 50 points. Oral reasons are also
scored with a possible 50 points being assigned by the official
||Conformation and performance are two categories of horse
judging. Judging a horse's conformation deals with analyzing
individuals of a horse as well as the horse as a whole.
Judging conformation is similar to judging a beauty contest.
Other classes concentrate on how the horse performs under
a saddle. These classes are
|referred to as performance classes. The following
exercises will concentrate on judging a horse's conformation.
Judging conformation is easy once you understand the basics
of Balance, Muscling, Structural Correctness,
Quality and Travel. Taking all these factors into consideration
when evaluating horses will assist you in making the most informed
decision in the conformational selection process.