Horse Conformation & Points of the Horse

Horse Conforrmation & Points of the Horse

The conformation of your horse refers to the correctness of its bone structure, musculature and its body proportions in relation to each other.

Undesirable horse conformation can limit your horses ability to perform specific tasks.

Although there are several common faults, your horses conformation is usually judged by what you intend to use it for.

So form-to-function is one of the first things considered when judging conformation.

Horse ConformationA horse with poor conformation for a Grand Prix show jumper could have excellent conformation for a World Champion dressage horse, or to be a champion endurance horse.

The Good Points & Bad Points of Horse Conformation :

Points on horse conformation are quite a detailed subject if they are to be of any use to you and should be studied separately.

The Points of the Horse

Points of the horse
  • The Back: this is the area where the saddle sits. It begins at the base of the withers and extends to the last thoracic vertebrae
  • The Barrel: the main body area of the horse, enclosing the rib cage and the major internal organs
  • Cannon Bone: The area between the knee or hock and the fetlock joint
  • Chestnut: a small calloused are on the inside of each leg
  • Chin Groove: the part of the horse’s head behind the lower lip and chin.
  • Coronet Band: a ring of soft tissue just above the hoof
  • The Crest: the top part of the neck under the mane
  • The Croup: the top of the hindquarters, from the hip to the dock
  • The Dock: base of the tail where it connects to hindquarters
  • The Elbow: Front leg joint where the belly meets the leg
  • The Ergot: a calloused area on the back of the fetlock
  • The Fetlock: a horses ankle joint. The tuft of hair between the cannon bone and pastern bone
  • The Flank: Where the hind legs and the barrel of the horse meet
  • The Forearm: the area of the front leg between the knee and elbow
  • The Forelock: where the mane hangs between the ears onto the forehead
  • The Frog: the dark wedge-shaped area on the underside of the hoof
  • The Gaskin: the large muscle on the hind leg, above the hock & below the stifle
  • The Girth: the area behind the elbow of the horse, where the girth is fastened
  • The Hindquarters: the large muscular area of the hind legs above the stifle
  • The Hock: the large joint on the hind leg equivalent of the human ankle and heel
  • The Hoof: the horses foot (see: Horse Hoof Care and Horse Foot Conformation)
  • The Jugular Groove: the indentation on the lower part of the neck just above the windpipe
  • The Knee: the large joint in the front legs above the cannon bone
  • The Loin: the area behind the saddle, from last rib to the croup
  • The Mane: long hair growing from the crest of the neck
  • The Muzzle: the chin, mouth and nostrils of the horse
  • The Pastern Joint: between the coronet and the fetlock
  • The Poll: joint at the beginning of the horse’s neck immediately behind the ears
  • Splint Bones: found on the legs either side of the cannon bone (see lameness)
  • The Shoulder: from the withers to the point of shoulder
  • The Stifle: between femur and tibia equivalent to the human knee
  • The Tail: the dock and hair growing from it
  • The Throatlatch: where the windpipe meets the head on the underside of the jaw
  • Withers: the highest point just above the top of the shoulder blades. Horse height is measured at the withers

It’s important to remember that every horse has good and bad points in its conformation. No horse is perfect and many horses (including Olympic calibre horses) excel even with their conformation faults.