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Morgan horse critique...

Name: Feronia, owned by quietann (thanks for the photos and opportunity to critique!)
Breed: Morgan breed:
Age: 12 year old mare
Job: dressage, low-level eventing, and trail riding.

Most recent photo:
From Conformation Critique

This photo was taken a year earlier:
From Conformation Critique

From Conformation Critique

From Conformation Critique

First, going to overall balance, we can see that this mare has a slightly smaller hind-end than shoulder or back area (light blue lines). Ideally her hind end and hip should be larger. Her back is a good medium length which aids in carrying a rider. Her withers are significantly higher than her withers, which is excellent for any sport that requires a light front end. Her withers appear to be well-sprung.

Her shoulder is also a nice medium-length and has an excellent slope to it. This will make her stride long and smooth (see green lines), which is excellent for any sport horse. Her humerus is fairly short and more horizontally sloped, which will shorten up her stride but make her more able to make quicker stops and turns. The horizontal slope will also make it more difficult for her to lift up her knees high to jump — you judge this by looking at the angle between humerus and shoulder. Ideally it should fall in the 105-120 degree range for a good jumper, and as you can see this mare is closer to 90 degrees. The humerus contributes to the appearance of her standing "camped under" — not a fault just something that's easy to spot and usually is caused by the length and angle of this arm bone!

In the first photo she appears to be bucked kneed (also called over-at-the-knee — see arrow). This fault is not as serious as a horse with calf-knees (where they are back at the knee) but will still predispose her to injury in the front of the fetlock, suspensory and sesamoid bones. Non-speed disciplines with more flat work are best for horses with knee deviations. However, while a horse with calf knees should never jump, bucked knees can hold up better under that strain. If you look at the second photo (taken a year earlier) it seems that she is not as severely bucked kneed as first appearances suggest — which is good — but there is still the suggestion that the knee is more over the cannon bone than usual.

She has a powerful but clean throat-latch, typical of the Morgan breed. Her length of neck is appropriate and well-balanced, though the underside of her neck is overdeveloped. Her neck is attached above the point of her shoulder, which will allow her to independently balance with her neck and head — something very useful for jumping disciplines.

Her hind end (denoted by pink lines) shows that the angle of her croup is fairly flat and low, which is sought after in horses used for dressage nowadays, but is also very common in Arabians used for endurance. Her pelvis is rather short, which means that there are fewer attachments for hind-end muscles and therefore less power. The tight area lies between the hip and stifle and should be nearly perpendicular. Here the stifle and thigh appear more triangular than rectangular, showing a short thigh. Note the extremely obtuse angle between stifle and hock — this mare has very straight hind legs without good angle. Straight hind legs will put lots of stress on her hind tendons, hocks and lower bones of the fetlock and feet. It also makes it more difficult for a horse to reach under herself and have a powerful stride which is needed for the upper levels of jumping and dressage disciplines.

This mare is a “lighter” type of the Morgan breed. If you want to check out what is considered the “Morgan ideal” check out the AMHA article on the matter.

With her leg conformation this mare is probably most suitable for flatwork and will do best with slow conditioning in good footing (not too deep to help keep her ligaments and tendons happy).


I've been considering doing a quick video overview of things to look for when judging conformation, and potentially a quick overview of body condition scoring with my own horse now that I have a decent camera and recorder. Is there any interest in seeing something like that? I'm also planning to do a video about non-mechanical blemishes... because my horse is an EXCELLENT example of blemishes as well!

I've had some people interested in me doing a page about different conformational norms among different breeds. I'd love pictures of your "typey" horses if I'm going to do something like this! Also, if you are a fan or expert on a particular breed, I'd love to see some other people posting about them. I, for one, don't know much about gaited horse conformation and how it differs — only that it does! Anyone interested in doing a study on TWH or paso finos, for example?


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 11th, 2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for a very honest and thorough critique. Absolutely a case of a newbie not knowing enough about conformation at the time of purchase; the friend who was helping me horse hunt didn't catch any of this and she really should have. But well, here we are 2+ years later, with a chronic suspensory problem and questions about whether she will ever be sound enough for riding.

Jumping's out of the question -- she was very good at it, but those legs were not going to hold up for it. If she comes sound, we will go back to dressage and trail riding. If not, I have good retirement options for her.

BTW -- I have another Morgan mare on a lease; she's far more typical for the breed and I should send photos.
Jun. 12th, 2010 01:32 am (UTC)
Was she worked pretty hard before you got her? I know she had a heavier rider (or at least that's what I remember) and did some jumping...
I'm sorry about her suspensory issues and hope she heals up and is comfortable for flat work again! Or at the very least, for some trail riding :)
And don't feel bad — you could get a decently conformed horse and still have them be incredibly accident prone and do something ELSE to themselves (like *ahem* MY horse).
Jun. 12th, 2010 03:46 am (UTC)
thanks for asking...
She was not worked hard, but her rider was very heavy (probably at least 250 pounds, and Feronia is about 850 when she's fit...) and yes they did jump, nothing high though. eventing_ponies had her briefly and she jumped up to 3'6" -- very easily and happily I should say.

Feronia has probably another 6 months before I can ride her, maybe more, if I want a SOUND horse as opposed to serviceably sound. She gets hand walked for 30 minutes a day and also gets a few hours in a tiny turnout, which keeps her from going nuts.

Sorry to hear your horse is one, as a friend put it, "you could bubble wrap this horse... and he'd eat the bubble wrap and choke on it..."
Apr. 10th, 2011 08:38 am (UTC)
The aims of acne treatment are to prevent new spots forming, to improve on acne treatment already present, and to prevent scarrings.

Apr. 15th, 2011 04:57 am (UTC)
The aims of acne treatment are to prevent new spots forming, to improve on acne treatment already present, and to prevent scarrings.

Nov. 3rd, 2011 07:58 pm (UTC)
Very intereresting reading. thx

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )