You may have heard the term “conformation” many times as we refer to Charlie or TW. 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.
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 http://www.emeraldracingclub.com 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!