|While front end conformation determines more how a horse will
perform a gait than which gait he will do well, rear end conformation gives
a good clue as to which gait a horse will do as well as how he will do
In general, horses with lumbo sacral junctions located directly over the hip bone, long hips (more than 30 % of their bodies) and pelvises that do not have a steep slope or a flat one ( approximately 20 degrees), hip sockets placed toward the center of the pelvis, femurs and tibia/fibulas at about the same length, and are inclined to more diagonal gaits with a long, powerful pushing stride behind. Horses with lumbo sacral junctions placed to the rear of the hip bone, short hips ( less than 1/4 of their body length), steep pelvic angles (more than 45 degrees) or overly horizontal ones, hip sockets placed toward the rear of the pelvis, short femurs and long tibia/fibulas are less likely to be able to round their backs and step strongly under themselves, and so are inclined to more lateral gaits, often with a shorter, higher step in back.
Many of the traits of hind end conformation that are common in gaited
horses can contribute to unsoundness if they are exaggerated or the horse
is used for purposes that are not appropriate to his conformation.
For example, a horse with a long stifle to hock measurement, whose hock
lies behind the point of his buttocks when the hind cannon is vertical
(said to be “camped out”) will take a long step in back with that
hind leg and may have a good deal of overreach in his gait because of it.
This sort of hind leg is appropriate for long overreaching steps in a straight
line on flat ground — however, it is not appropriate for quick turns, sliding
stops or other maneuvers that are best done with downward flex from the
lumbo sacral junction and the hock bearing weight under the mass of the
body of the horse. It is also not the best construction for climbing steep
hills or coming down them — again because the hock does bear weight
well under the mass of the body.
Index of Conformation Analysis
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