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conformation
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Jacquie
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Nr. Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 158
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 Posted: Mon Jan 21st, 2008 12:34 pm
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Hi Dr. Deb

 
I have now rapidly read the three conformation books, having received them last week.  I really have enjoyed them and I have never seen anything so detailed and precise on the subject of equine conformation. I have anatomy books to work from for my sculpting, but they are nothing like as detailed as these. I will be wanting to re-read them again and again, as my initial gallop through them has only allowed me to just begin to grasp and digest the subject.

I have an American/English translation query or three -

1. I am wondering if 'coon footed' could be what is referred in England as long and over sloping pasterns?  We don't have coons here so I am not sure what their feet look like!

2. I am unsure what precisely it is that causes a horse to be described as 'hammer headed'. Is it simply a big and common sort of head?

3. Am I correct in thinking that 'Cat hams' are over long and overangled hind legs combined with what we in England would call goose rumped - which is a sloping croup and low set tail.


I am so confused now as to how to assess a horses shape and feel very unsure of my ability to identify equine 'defects'. I think I am simply overwhelmed by the sudden influx of new information!

I can recognise a good horse when I see one, but to pull out the specific details of a horses conformation - and understand the effect on the bio-mechanics that these skeletal types cause (apart from the very obvious ones) is beyond my current abilities.

I have tried really hard to assess my own horses, and I find that am too confused to be sure of my deductions. It makes such a difference how the horse is posed and how it is photographed too. I have removed a picture I originally posted here for that reason - I felt it was not a good enough representation of the horse to use to assess him fairly.

I find that as soon as the horse moves, it is a million times easier to asess the animal. Movement gives away so much more.

 

Jacquie




 


Last edited on Mon Jan 21st, 2008 03:32 pm by Jacquie

Kay
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Joined: Sun Nov 25th, 2007
Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin USA
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 Posted: Mon Jan 21st, 2008 03:59 pm
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Good Morning Jackie -

Thank you for starting this particular thread.  I am wading through the conformation books also.  I have had little actual education in conformation and I am very interested in the responses to your questions.  I am going out to the barn lately with a tape measure in hand and looking at horses with a much different eye. 

I've learned more the past couple of months through both the forum and the bookstore than I've learned about horses for years.  I'm so glad this is available; and really appreciate the sincere efforts of Dr. Deb and others involved with this website.  I can't read and absorb fast enough....

 

Kay

flyingfox
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 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2008 11:00 pm
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Hi

I am not trying to be funny, but I really would like to know what you in the USA mean in the conformation books by

'coon footed',

'hammer headed'

and 'cat hams'.

Can anyone enlighten me?  - this is a simple matter of US/UK translation I am sure.

 
thanks


Jacquie

Jacquie
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Nr. Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 158
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 Posted: Thu Jan 31st, 2008 11:02 pm
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Oops - I forgot my username and used my horse name, - which is also my email address - sorry!

Jacquie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Fri Feb 1st, 2008 09:00 am
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Sorry, Jacquie, I would have gotten back to you sooner on this but have been very busy this past week and really haven't been able to reply too much to anybody. Anyway, here's what you requested:

(1) "Coon footed" means low in the pasterns, having pasterns that are carried at a near-horizontal angle. This also often involves them being rather long; it would be rare to see a horse with short pasterns and a near-horizontal pastern angle. And yes, raccoons do have long feet (though they have fingers to their little paws, almost like a monkey, and they can turn their hind feet backwards so as to be able to go down a tree trunk as well as up one -- rather unlike horses).

(2) "Hammer headed" -- the reference is not to the size of the head, nor either its commonness, but the fact that the head sits on the end of the neck as the head of a hammer sits on the handle, i.e., at 90 degrees, without discernible diminution of the diameter of the neck just behind the head. This area, from a line taken from the poll to the angle of the jaw, and measuring back from that line to the caudal aspect of the 2nd neck vertebra, is the "turnover" or in Arabic, the mitbah. In better horses it is not only "refined", i.e. smaller in diameter, but has a subtle upward arch to it. The hammer-headed horse also lacks this arch. It's also true that horses with common-type heads and somewhat disproportionately big heads are more likely to also be hammer-headed; but that is only because all three features are typical of underbred horses. They are really separate factors, and can occur separately.

(3) Yes, "cat hams" are as you describe, i.e. the rear end of the horse is built like that of a skinny, bedraggled alley-cat, and that's the reference.

Isn't it interesting and amusing how many of our horsemanship terms, even for parts of the body, come from such countrified language, with rather colorful comparisons. Hope this helps -- Dr. Deb

Jacquie
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Joined: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007
Location: Nr. Frome, Somerset, United Kingdom
Posts: 158
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 Posted: Fri Feb 1st, 2008 07:50 pm
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Hi Dr. Deb

thank  you again. I am in my quiet period of the year, so time passes at a different rate for me than it does for you!

I love all the funny descriptions for horse conformation and action.

I am not sure if the US has these descriptions, but heres some great ones that we have:

we have jug headed horses and herring gutted horses and when horses trot they can plait or dish and go bridle lame. 

There are sickle hocks and cow hocks and goose rumped horses and horses can be tied in below the knee, back at the knee and over at the knee.

The front legs can come out of the same hole and the neck can be thick through the jowl. 

We have only skewbalds and piebalds, no paints - and no further description of the amount of white an black or brown. We have only a dun and not a buckskin and some horses are roarers and whistlers.

hope you enjoyed this

Jacquie


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