Horse Conformation

You may have heard the term “conformation” many times as we refer to Yodeler or Ana. And as we move into the yearling sale, you’ll hear it even more frequently.

“Conformation” simply refers to how the horse is “conformed” or built. Just like us, all horses are built differently. The reason we are so concerned with conformation is that it can ultimately affect performance and efficiency of movement.

Are you pigeon-toed, splayed footed? Walk like a duck? If you have any of these conformation “faults” then you may put stress on your joints and be more prone to injury. The same applies to horses. It’s not to say that a horse with one of these faults can’t be successful or fast, it just may mean that they may be more susceptible to injury because of their structure.

When the “experts” talk about conformation, they are tending to compare to certain ideal standards. They are also looking for proportion and balance. Both lend themselves to performance.

I’ve included some diagrams here as a reference. Forgive the spelling mistakes on the images – I pulled these from elsewhere online.

Leg Conformation 

horse-front-leg horse-rear-leg

This video was produced by Purdue University students to explain conformation and is worth a watch even though it isn’t Thoroughbred specific. Good conformation is applicable for all breeds and disciplines (this video won’t display in your email, so visit to watch it within the blog).

It is perhaps easiest to talk conformation when you are able to make comparisons. For this, see the image below and weigh in on which order you’d place them in based on their conformation!


Have your favorite? Check this link for the expert’s evaluation of these three horses and see if you picked correctly!



1 thought on “Horse Conformation

  1. This is all very interesting! A lot to absorb and I’m now picturing imaginary lines when I look at photos of the horses in the Bloodhorse stallion registry. I haven’t really paid attention to the conformation of Yodeler and Ana. Do we know if they have any specific issues?

    There’s some real nice pedigrees in the sales catalog and I haven’t worked my way through them all yet. I’m wondering if conformation flaws in yearlings continue to adulthood or if some outgrow them (or if some can be corrected by things like braces or special shoeing). I’ve heard all the body “parts” may be growing at different rates in the babies so I’m not sure how to assess their conformation. I’m really looking forward to the sales seminar and the yearling sales!

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