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THE HORSE'S ATHLETIC ABILTIY



Apparition
Dappled gray Hanoverian gelding
Sculpted by CM Breyer Show jumper by Charlotte Donahue
Twirling Faster Studio

Owned by Andrea Robbins


Conformation Gives Clues to Athletic Ability:


Did you know that you can examine equine conformation traits to evaluate intelligence, temperament, sensitivity and athletic ability? In the same manner you can apply those to evaluate a model horse.   If it is standing you judge on overall conformation.   If it is sculpted in action you can also add the manner in which the legs are sculpted.   Are they straight or are the center of the hooves toes pointed in or out?   Then apply the correct or incorrect structure as if the model were actually frozen in time but traveling for inspection.

Eye:
Start with a horse's head.   He should have a large, dark, "kind" eye to help him see well.   Horses with small "pig" eyes have difficulty seeing.   Horses with "bugged out" eyes with all or part of the white sclera surrounding the eye showing may have a kind attitude, but they tend to be very unpredictable.   When the white of a horse's eye shows, they have a tendency to be spooky and inconsistent.   Except of course, the natural sclera of the Appaloosa and some apron faced horses such as pinto patterns.   These are actually noted for being more docile than other breeds or colorations of horses.

Forehead
A horse whose forehead has a lot of width between the eyes tends to be more intelligent than one who has a narrow forehead.   Look at its structure.   A flat forehead gives a clue that the horse will have a great personality, while a horse with a bulge between his eyes tends to be more stubborn and temperamental.   Do not confuse the "v" bulge of a stock breed stallion with the stubborn or temperamental horse.   That is natural muscling in their foreheads.

Ears
Ears should be set on top of the head and be "sharp" and erect.   They should have distinctive curves and sharpness.   Floppy-eared horses with their ears set too low show a lack of expression.   They indicate a slower and more mellow horse, but one that will rarely give a brilliant performance.   "Pin ears" are the least desirable ear conformation.   This conformation fault is caused when the ears are attached too close to the poll, and these horses tend to be very temperamental.   Some Arabians are known to have pin ears and the trait is accepted to that breed.   Malwari horses have a trait of intensive inward-turning pin ear tips to the point that they often touch the other ear.   These two breed should be not penalized for having pin ears.   Horses also use their ears to "talk" about how they are feeling.   Ears forward means he is alert, surprised, not certain, or happy.   Ears working back and forth softly tell you that he is attentive, accepting, has good concentration and is trying to please.   Ears straight up show you that he is either lazy, bored, or asleep.   Ears facing straight back tell you that he is confused, mad, doubtful, or showing the first signs of resistance.   Ears really laid back are a clear sign he is really unhappy, mad, or aggressive.

Nostrils
The horse's nostrils have to do with giving clues to a horse's temperament, but they are an important conformation factor for performance.   Large nostrils are a desirable trait, and they are typically found on horses with good lung and breathing capacity.   A horse with small nostrils may be limited in taking in enough air and affect his endurance and stamina.

Mouth
Since the horse's mouth holds the bit, it is a key component in how the rider will communicate with the mount.   Look for a horse with thin lips and a short, shallow mouth because horses with these qualities tend to be the most responsive to the rider's rein aids.   Horses with thicker lips and longer mouths tend to be dull and less responsive.

Skin Texture
In real life a horse's skin and hair coat can tell something about his personality.   The thinner skin and finer hair coat a horse has, the more sensitive he will be.   For example, Thoroughbred horses are typically thin-skinned with fine coats.   They also tend to be more sensitive and high strung.   On the other hand, thicker-skinned horses with coarser coats tend to be quieter.   Curly coated horses are known for their calm dispostion.   A model horse judge can apply this knowledge by looking at how the artist added features such as additional hair on fetlock joints, under chin, over use or under use of added forelock, mane and tail.   The use of sculpted hair inside ears, whorls or hair patterns carved in the coat or painters adding etching to paint jobs.

THE HORSE'S ATHLETIC ABILTIY



Acclaim To Fame shown as Hot Rod Lincoln
Seal Bay Tobiano Pinto
Sculpted and Painted by Chris Nandell
Beau Cheveaux Creations


Motion
Real horses are useful only when in motion.   In a very real sense, the horse is an athlete.   Any physical handicap that causes it to be clumsy, use excessive energy to perform a task, be hard riding, lack strength or speed, or wear excessively, decreases its potential usefulness.   Good action is determined largely by set of the feet and legs, slope of the shoulders and pasterns, and shortness of back and coupling relative to length of underline or belly.   The feet and legs of a horse at the walk or trot should move straight ahead parallel to an imaginary center line in the direction of travel.   The feet should rock upward from the heel and break over squarely at the toe and should rise with a snap.   They should be carried forward in a straight arc with the highest point of the arc occurring at the center of travel or when the supporting leg is passed.   They should be set solidly and squarely on the ground with toes pointing straight ahead.   Any deviation from this procedure is a defect of action.   Since we are duplicating real life horses in motion any leg on the table should be level "squared" meaning both heels of the foot "strike" or are level with the table.   It is not too difficult to use an imaginary line of travel and envision what the model's line of travel would be if it were an actual horse in stride.   In most cases any leg conformation default is genetic and must be charged to the sire and/or dam.   For this reason, breeding animals, especially stallions, should be free of major conformation defects.   Judging the gender of moving model horses as appropriate breeding horses can be easily assessed in the following manner.   If the model is a stallion the traits sculpted by the artist should be those that would be beneficial to passing on to any imaginery foals for performance or halter competition.   Mares should be the judged on the same basis.   Geldings, since they cannot be bred, should be judged on the merits of rather the sculpted conformation is ideal for that individual to be a proper imaginary performance prospect.   Foals should be judged on rather the foal, when grown, would mature into a good performance or breed prospect.

Correct and Incorrect Leg Set
Correct leg set implies "a leg under each corner of the body," accompanied by adequate, straight lines as if there were a real straight cannon like a real horse, the line should be short to recreate short cannons; long, correctly sloped pasterns and medium-sized, balanced feet.   A horse that stands correctly will almost always move correctly.   Conversely, one that stands crooked must move likewise.

Front Legs
A plumb line dropped from the point of the shoulder should bisect the knee, cannon, ankle and foot (Figure 1A). One dropped from the arm should bisect the forearm, knee, cannon, and fetlock, and pass behind the heel (Figure 2A). The pasterns should be compatible in length with breed requirements, slope at an angle of 45 degrees, and join the foot without changing this angle.

Figures 1B through 1F and 2B through 2F show common defects of front leg set that affect action.


Figure 1A. Straight legs, good front.
Figure 1B. Splay-footed.
Figure 1C. Pigeon-toed.
Figure 1D. Knock-kneed, narrow front, base wide.
Figure 1E. Base-narrow.
Figure 1F. Bow-kneed.


Figure 2A. Correct, good bone.
Figure 2B. Pastern too straight.
Figure 2C. Pastern too long and flat, angle different than foot, "coon-footed."
Figure 2D. Calf-kneed, short, straight pastern.
Figure 2E. Buck-kneed or over on the knee.
Figure 2F. "Tied in" or fine bone below the knee.

Splayed feet and pigeon toes are quite common and affect action in proportion to their degree.   Knock knees, bowed knees and base-narrow defects are less common but affect action and predispose to unsoundnesses.

Short, straight pasterns increase concussion to the horse and rider, which seriously predispose the horse to unsoundnesses and induce fatigue to horse and rider.

Long, weak pasterns ride easily but affect action and are undesirable for good stops with roping horses.

Calf knees are common and detract from appearance, whereas buck knees are uncommon except with jumpers.

"Tied-in" below the knee or hock indicates inadequate tendon and ligament development for long, trouble-free service.

Hind Legs
Bone structure of the hind leg determines, to a large degree, the set of the feet and legs, and to a lesser degree arrangement and shape of muscling in the hind quarters (Figure 4A). Correct leg set can't be achieved with crooked bones.   Bone structure is genetically determined.

A plumb line dropped from the point of the buttock should bisect the thigh, gaskin, hock, cannon, fetlock, pastern and foot (Figure 3A). Viewed from the side, it should contact the back of the hock, cannon, and fetlock (Figure 4B).

Figures 3B through F and 4C through F show common faults of hind leg set.


Figure 3A. Straight legs.
Figure 3B. Slightly cow-hocked.
Figure 3C. Extremely cow-hocked, splay-footed.
Figure 3D. Bow-legged or bandy-legged or "too wide," pigeon toed.
Figure 3E. Base-narrow or stands close.
Figure 3F. Base-wide or stands wide.


Figure 4A. Correct skeletal structure.
Figure 4B. Correct leg set.
Figure 4C. Sickle-hocked or too much set.
Figure 4D. Post-legged or too straight, "coon-footed."
Figure 4E. Camped under or stands under.
Figure 4F. Defects of this magnitude should not be propagated.

Almost all horses display cow hocks to a degree.   Some horse owners prefer that hocks point slightly toward each other with the feet pointing slightly outward.   This is insurance against wide hocks or bandy legs.

Noticeable cow hocks are undesirable both from the standpoint of action and appearance.

Bandy legs or wide hocks seriously deter collected action and predispose to unsoundness.

Sickle hocks are quite common and are serious because of the stress placed on the hocks in performance and the many unsoundnesses that are associated with them.

View a stallion with sickle hocks with concern.

Boggy hocks usually are seen with post-legs.

THE HORSE'S ATHLETIC ABILTIY



Friesian Stallion shown as Intricate
Black Tobiano Pinto
Sculpted and Painted by Chris Nandell
Shows the correct action of front legs in a trot
Beau Cheveaux Creations




Friesian Stallion shown as Intricate
Black Tobiano Pinto
Sculpted and Painted by Chris Nandell
Shows the correct action of rear legs in a trot
Beau Cheveaux Creations




Friesian Stallion shown as Intricate
Black Tobiano Pinto
Sculpted and Painted by Chris Nandell
Shows the correct action from the side profile of a trot
Beau Cheveaux Creations


Correct Action


The feet and legs of a horse at the walk or trot should move straight ahead parallel to an imaginary center line in the direction of travel.   The feet should rock upward from the heel and break over squarely at the toe and should rise with a snap.   They should be carried forward in a straight arc with the highest point of the arc occurring at the center of travel or when the supporting leg is passed. They should be set solidly and squarely on the ground with toes pointing straight ahead.   Any deviation from this procedure is a defect of action. See Figures 5 and 6.


Figure 5. Straight, true action.


Figure 6. Correct, true arc, balanced feet.

Some Common Incorrect Actions


  • Winding or rope walking. A tendency to swing the striding leg around and place it in front of the supporting leg (Figure 7).


Figure 7. Winding or rope walking.

  • Dishing or winging in. The striding foot swings inward in motion, then outward again at completion of stride (Figure 8).


Figure 8. Interfering or dishing or winging in.

  • Interfering. Striking the supporting leg, usually near the fetlock with the foot of the striding leg (Figure 8).
  • Paddling. An outward deviation in the fore foot and lower leg at flexion (Figure 9).


Figure 9. Paddling or winging.

  • Winging. Exaggerated paddling, most noticeable in high-going horses.
  • Forging. Striking the heel or undersurface of the shoe of a forefoot with the toe of a hind foot.
  • Rolling. Excessive lateral shoulder motion as with wide-fronted horses.
  • Pointing. A low, long stride.
  • Dwelling. A perceptible pause in the flight of the foot before it reaches the ground.
  • Trappy. A quick, high, short, jolting stride.
  • Pounding. Heavy contact, sometimes resulting from a heavy stride.

Specific Effect of Incorrect Legs in Action


  • Pigeon toes tend to cause paddling or winging.
  • Splayed feet encourage dishing or winging in and may result in severe interfering and permanent injury.
  • Long, weak pasterns and shallow heels cause an irregular stride and may predispose to ringbone (Figure 10).


Figure 10. Incorrect arc, long toes, flat heels.

  • Short, straight pasterns and shoulders and deep heels are accompanied by a stilted, trappy stride and a tendency toward stiffness and sidebones (Figure 11).


Figure 11. Incorrect arc, short toes, high heels.

  • Long forearms, short cannons and sloping pasterns are conducive to long, springy, true strides and limbs that wear well (Figures 5 and 6).
  • Calf knees increase concussion and encourage a pounding gait.
  • Buck knees cause unstableness. When accompanied by long toes, they tend to cause stumbling.
  • Knock knees predispose to interfering.
  • Bow knees usually cause undue weight on the outside of the front feet, which tends to hasten sidebones.
  • Sickle hocks seldom accompany balanced conformation and motion. They must bear a disproportionate share of weight; therefore, spavins and curbs tend to develop.
  • Post legs are less common than sickle hocks but are equally serious. They seldom ride easy, are prone to crampy, boggy hocks and tend to cause low, skimming strides.
  • Bandy legs usually are unsteady or "limber hocked" and predispose to most unsoundnesses of the hock.

Straight underpinning does not guarantee a good performing horse, but it increases the probability of good performance.




Palomino Danish Warmblood Gelding
CM Breyer Keltic Salinero by Deborah Brown
Nicki Collins


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artist resins sculpted and or painted by them for sale.