• Clare Long

'Marishness' ; Basic Conformation ; and The Parts of the Horse every horse person should know

(From the archives: Clarity Dressage original YouTube channel: Posted 1/13/2015)

Featuring Clare and "Prima Ballerina"

(Wording from video):

I wanted to talk to you all about conformation, so you have a

better idea about how to see a horse's conformation. Its a good idea to have the basic idea about conformation.

Different conformational faults, or strengths, definitely make a difference for some disciplines, and how you will want to ride your horse and approach their career. This is Prima, I named her Prima Ballerina, and she can be a little bit persnickity. Did you see her kind of want to nip at me a little bit? Mares and 'marish ness' behavior:

She can be a little bit, what we call "Marish." Definitely a little persnickity, a little moody, a little opinionated, and see her expression,

she kind of wants to challenge me. That's pretty typical of these guys, not that there is anything wrong with mares, it's just good to know that most mares, in general, tend to be that way. I'm not talking all mares, some mares are solid, and quiet and not moody, and sweet and easy and wonderful, but most mares can be a little, what we call, 'marish'. You'll see, she gets a little 'that way' with me and I have to remind her that I'm the boss, and you do that just be being assertive.


Conformationally, this mare is really quite sound. She looks really quite good. Her weight is good, (you see you can't see ribs, that's your basic rule of thumb, right?), and she's pretty well muscled. The ultimate outline for a horse is a square. You are looking for a square. The square is the optimum situation. So, you can visualize it, it runs from here, across the bottom, up the back of their legs, and across the back again. You can see that this mare is a pretty darn nice square. Can you visualize that? It is looks like a tall rectangle, it just means that your horse is longer legged than they are backed, and if its a laying down rectangle, than you know its a longer back, with shorter legs. Some people like a longer back on their horses, some people like a shorter back. Some disciplines are better for longer or shorter backs, etc. Her basic conformation is good. Does she have a gorgeous head, no. Is it a pretty head, yes. It's a typical warmblood head, its not gorgeous, but it is also not ugly. She has a big eye. She has actually a very nice neck, you are looking for the shape of the neck. You are looking for the crest, and she's developing crest muscle,

she actually has quite a nice neck. For a performance horse, you want them relatively refined in the throatlatch, so its easy for them to 'round off', and she actually does have quite a nice throatlatch. Her ears are a little on the long side, but that is typical of warmbloods. She has nice limbs, and what we call, a nice amount of 'bone', the amount of bone she has to support her body, front and back legs. She is what we call 'straight' in the front limbs, she doesn't toe out or toe in,

and shes not base narrow. Behind, shes actually very sound as well. Shes a little straight in the hocks, but it doesn't show up when she's working. Parts of the horse:

Things to review- The topline: the entire line that runs over the top of the horse. You want the topline to be strong in a Performance horse, the most important thing is that the topline is strong, and you develop that. This is the poll, (the part between the ears), the crest, the wither, her back, her loin, (the part that connects her back with her hind end), her haunch (her hind end), and the top of her hind end is called her croup. The top of the tail is called the dock of the tail. So this is where you want to build muscle and fullness, over her crest, her back muscles, her loin muscle, (very important for performance horses to keep strong), and the top of her croup. That whole area is called her topline, and you want a performance horse to have a nice, strong topline. We work really hard to develop the topline properly, for our performance horses. That's all I want to talk about with her right now. See you later!