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Common Conformational Defects

The conformation of a horse varies from breed. Within each breed there is a conformation that is matched with the type of work or activities the horse will perform. For instance the Thoroughbred is the main horse used for racing, which is why it is built leaner and is naturally fast. Heavy weight horses such as the Clydesdale or Shire are built for pulling and doing hard labor. They are very strong and can help with more physical type work, such as plowing fields or pulling wagons.

If a horse isn't proportional it can lead to health problems that can be worse than the normal defects a horse may encounter. For example if a horse has a head that is to big and heavy it will put more weight on the horses front end. Horses carry 60 percent of there weight with there front legs and 40 percent with their back legs. If this percent of weight becomes unbalanced then the horse will not be able to function properly. The same thing goes for if the head was too small. The upper and lower jaws should meet evenly at the front of the mouth, if they are uneven this could result in the horse having trouble eating food.

The eyes of a horse should be placed on the sides of the head so the horse can see 360 degrees around. Horses need this kind of vision for survival. They are pray animals, forced to survive in the wild when they are hunted by big animals such as Mountain Lions. Horses rely on sight, sound, smell, and speed. Not so much touch because by the time that sense is used for survival it may be too late. The horses natural instinct when threatened is to run and never look back until they are far away from the area where the predator was.

A horses neck can determines how fast or strong a horse will be, a long neck is associated with speed while a short neck is strength. That's why working horse tend to have stocky short necks rather than slim long necks, race horses have long slim necks.

Horses get all their power from their hindquarters. Its like the engine of a horse. Since all the power from the horse comes from the rear, it should be strong and muscular. When a horse is standing the legs should not stretch out behind or be tucked under the horse. They should virtually make a straight line down from the point of the buttock to the cannon bone and through the hock to the ground.

A horses feet should point directly forward. Their are conformational defects in the feet that make them turn outward or inward. Pigeon toes are feet that point inward and splay-footed is when the feet are turned outward.


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