Gaited Horses
Conformation Analysis Forum
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The shape or contour of the body or body structures.

Conformation is what makes horses better able to perform in a certain fashion. 
Aspects of conformation include:
  • straight legs or crooked legs
  • the length of the bones
  • the angles of the joints
  • the proportions and overall  balance of the horse
  • desired muscling
  • length of neck and back
  • straightness of the top line and croup
To judge a horses conformation you need to view the horse from each side and evaluate the horse at a standstill and while in motion (walk and gait).
The fore and hind legs should be evaluated for:
  • straightness
  • correct angles
  • slope
  • muscling
  • proportion
The pelvis and croup are evaluated for:
  • symmetry
  • length
  • straightness
The head and neck are evaluated for:
  • normal balance 
  • appropriate length
  • curvature
  • the teeth and bite

Conformation faults in the horses legs can cause inherent weakness in the legs and predispose the horse to lameness or injury. There are also conformational flaws which do not necessarily hinder performance or result in lameness, but are unsightly.
The hope of this forum is to provide information to the Gaited Horse Enthusiast to evaluate the build and structure of their gaited horses as it applies to gait. 
There are many factors that contribute to a horses gaiting ability undersaddle.

  • Conformation
  • Genetics
  • Training
  • Conditioning
  • Rider influence.
It is important to understand "Form to Function" when annualizing the conformation of a horse to determine how his structure will enhance or detract from his ability to perform a specific gait. Not every horse should be built the same, there should be differences in leg types for horses which perform various gaits. But no matter what the use, correct leg conformation remains the same. Correct legs produce stable movement, with the horse staying balanced in all gaits. It s also important to understand that conformation is only ONE of the contributing factors in gait. A horse that is built to be predisposition to foxtrot may indeed perform another gait altogether, especially if his genetics, training, conditioning and rider influence are all aiming him toward another gait. 

It is our hope that by presenting the analysis' people can develop and eye as to how gait is affected by  a specific factor in the structure and this will lead to a better understanding of how to develop the natural gaits of our horses. It is important to breed for the strong points of structure that each breed needs to support their signature gait. 

Our Analysis are performed without the individual who is assessing the photos knowing what breed the horse is. They are sent the same photos you see at the top of each page, with no additional information. They are limited in their critiquing by the inability to view the horse from all angles or in motion. In order to get the best analysis, it is important that the horse is standing square, and that all hooves can be clearly seen. Make sure that the light is on the side of the horse that you are photographing, as shadows can make analysis difficult.

Feedback From Users
This was so informative, and well written.  Thank you for this.  I learned a great deal. 
Terri Vick-Phillips 
This forum is excellent. I learn more each time I read them.
The hindquarter conformation analysis was good.  I learned a lot from the skeletal drawings
I am finding these articles to be extremely interesting and informative.  I especially like the illustrations and how they tie in with the text.  Please keep them coming.
This forum is wonderfully illustrated and described.  I am newer to the gaited world.  After reading and re-reading these detailed descriptions, I am able to understand and evaluate my horses (and others) so much better! 
Susan Hartje
I was looking at a new horse today and your forum helped a lot. Thanks, it really helped me to take a closer look at my own horses.
Mary D.
HI---I really like this type of study.  It's so nice to have different body types shown and examined as to how each type might or might not gait well.  I'll try to send in photos also.  Keep the show going, I know that alot of people are benefiting from it!!!! 
Flo Paget
As a trainer myself, I have thoroughly enjoyed this particular series. I feel it is very informative and I've learned alot from the analyses that will help me better evaluate horses that I am training as well as assisting clients in evaluating the abilities of their own horses when getting lessons, especially on gaiting. Keep up the good work and I look forward to future installments in this forum.
Michele C. Wayland
I think that Liz Graves and Lee Zeigler have done a wonderful job with their explanation on conformation and gait.  As a breeder, I learned things that I should have ALREADY known!  <G>
Thanks for including their knowledge!  It was very helpful.
Kris Quaintance
This is great!!  I want to go out and compare my horses and take pictures to send in.  Both authors explain well and it is very educational. 
This forum is wonderful. There is a lot of misinformation about gaited horses and this forum on conformation is a great step forward.
Phil& Nancy
I think this analysis is very helpful.  We breed and sell Rocky Mountain horses and appreciate the input on this site.  The two conformation analyses are beneficial in analyzing gaits (why they can or cannot gait and why they gait the way they do).  It is especially helpful when purchasing horses also. Thank you for time and effort put into this analysis.
I love it.  Keep them coming.  It's a great learning tool and very interesting.  I find this site to be the most helpful and informative site for a gaited horse owner on the entire world wide web.  Keep up the good work.  It's a real treat to see new stuff appearing on a regular basis too.  Someone is doing a really great job of keeping it fresh and
Sherri Hueser



Front End Conformation
Rear End Conformation
1) An Analysis by Lee Ziegler
Reach, high action, and "scope" of motion are determined by the length and angulation of  the shoulder and humerus,  and the overall balance of the horse is affected by the length and attachment of the neck. 
2) A Analysis by Liz Graves
How to understand wht the length of the humerus will translate into in the movement of the horse. Why understanding front-end conformation should be an important consideration in evaluating any horse before asking it to start working. 
3) A Analysis by Liz Graves
How neck sets , length of neck and attachment of head to neck affect the movement of a horse.
4)An Analysis of babies 
   by Lee Ziegler
Some things do not change much from babyhood to adult horse. 
5) An Analysis by Liz Graves
Tracking, Hoof Angles and Breakover are covered in depth. 
1) An Analysis by Liz Graves 
Evaluating for the strong and weak points in the hindquarters structure, to be able understand how to correctly engage the hindquarters for maximum  efficiency of gaits without undue stress. 

2) An Analysis by Lee Ziegler
Things to look at in rear end conformation that will will determine the ability or lack thereof of the horse to round his back (lower his hindquarters from the lumbo sacral junction).  They will also determine the type of step he takes in back —   long or, short, powerful and pushing or high and “hocky”. 
Whole Horse Conformation Analysis
1) An Analysis by Liz Graves
(Mangalarga Marchador)
2) An Analysis by Lee Ziegler (Icelandics)

Quizzes Online
Conformation Quiz

Ray  Miller Quiz 

Results of the Quiz's from May 28th through May 31st 2001

Quiz on horse care

Second Quiz on Horse Care

Hoof Test

Foot Test

Foreleg Test

We would like to have feedback on this forum!

Please let us know; did you like it, hate it, learned something, agree with analysis, disagree?


We need Photos to CONTINUE this forum!

The horse must be standing in a square position (with vertical fore and hind cannons). 

We are mostly just concerned with the ability to SEE the conformation on the animal.

We will be cropping the photo to JUST the part being addressed, so if you have any you would like to share, please do!

It makes it rather hard to identify the individual animal. ( WHICH was the intent) Folks are rather squeamish about having their animals "Picked apart" on a public forum.

BUT with this format, folks can LEARN and still have no negatives about one particular individual online!


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