A commen, and usually correct theory in the horse world. If you want a fast horse you want a lighter boned creature, if you want a pulling horse you want a big powerful beast, dressage riders look for a horse built to carry weight behind, and if you want your horse to stay sound over those gruelling 3-day event courses you will avoid those who toe out or in drastically. Commen sense and many experts tell us to consider the horse’s build in relation to the job we expect him/her to do.
Makes all sense to me.
But sometimes we meet those bizarre exceptions, they may have stayed sound for years despite looking like every conformation fault rolled up into one horse. Or maybe they look like a chunky monkey who could barely trot, but turn a barrel with the best of them.
Take this mare for example:
Yes, she is in terrible condition (she is on a feedlot, sadly) but what struck me right after her poor condition is her front legs. Pasterns as upright as posts.
Yet she is 26, has worked all her life and is still sound. Despite her obvious conformation fault. Now I just wish I could give this poor old lady a home….sigh….but that is off todays topic.
A lot of experts would have written her off when she was young as not likely to stay sound, but she did. She was a ranch horse. I guess we can make the argument that if she was a jumper she might have broken down, but that is something we’ll never know.
In my (way) younger years I rode a buckskin gelding, all of 15 hh and mostly tank, huge hammerhead, thick neck, big shoulder. Short stubby pony legs, but horse bodied coupled with light hindquarters. No halter ribbons for that guy LOL! Looking at him you would never guess he could pound his way to a jump almost 100% on his forehand and pop over 4′ with ease! And that was with no schooling, he was a dude horse.
Back then I did not know enough to try to shift some of his weight to his hindquarters, it was point the horse at the fence and jump. But really, even with the best dressage rider on him I bet that would take some work and only be moderately successful.
Despite his form he functioned better than many well built horses over a fence.
I still take conformation into account, and never think that is a bad idea. Breeding for a sport is also commonly practiced, and also not a bad thing at all. But then I think of Ringo.
Ringo lived at a farm that also took track layups and horses in training. He was another living example of every conformation fault in one horse, poor ugly guy. He also had a personality to match-and made me think there is something to that small eye coupled with a roman nose theory. I suppose nowdays he’d be called a “Pintaloosa” as he was pinto with bum spots and no mane to speak of.
Long story short-my friend and I were riding, she was on a racehorse (she worked there)while I rode the infamous nasty Ringo. Talk got to having a race so we hit the training track and I jacked up my stirrups to match hers (ah the stupidity of being 17), and off we went.
That ugly horse’s speed was suprising, he ran like the devil was after him with no urging from me, he wanted to run, with all the heart of a Thorobred! He put that racehorse to shame, it was all I could do to pull him up. He didn’t even throw in an explosive buck-something he was known for. Willy-nilly breeding, conformation faults, short stride and all that was likely the fastest horse I have ever sat on, OTTB’s included!
But if you stood him up beside the racehorse and asked for bets? No one sane would pick him.
I enjoy these exception-to-the-rule horses. Have you met/owned one? What was he good at that no one would ever guess?