jennifer

Question about downhill horse conformation

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am starting yet another post on downhill horses. I am still very much a novice horse owner and still trying to learn, and I have a question.

A woman I know who is a pretty good horsewoman asked me to download some pictures for her from her last training (her computer wasn’t cooperating). She had spent a month learning to work cows on a ranch in Texas.

Looking at the pictures I noticed that almost all of the horses there looked downhill as I have interpreted the definition, including the stallion Smart Little Lena. I may not know much, but I recognized the name as one of names that is considered quite desirable on a pedigree in the qh world.

These horses didn’t have high stepping trots, but they could go low to ground and twist and turn beautifully.

This got me to thinking that horses may not be that different than dogs. We breed them for specific jobs. As great as Standard Poodles are at hunting fowl, if you have gophers and rats, a Jack Russell Terrier is a better choice; Dalmatians who were breed to run alongside carriages are great pets for the person training as a marathon runner, but not good stuck in the house. Each breed has its purpose and the conformation, haircoat and other breed attributes match the need.

Was it coincidence that the horses that showed the best ability to work cows and bred specifically for that purpose were also downhill or is there a benefit to this physical attribute that makes them better at working cows like the poodle’s haircoat that insulates the joints from the cold water or the short legs of the dachshund that allows him to go down a hole after his prey?

Jennifer

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What breed of horses does that horsewoman have? A horse who is conformationally built down hill is not good regardless of what their job is whether is be a cutting horse or a western pleasure show horse. A horse built downhill only predisposes a horse to many problems such as splints,navicular,OCD,hock problems,stifle problems,back problems etc. A horse built downhill can't physically get it's hind end up underneith them to carry themselves. With cutting horses,they basically sit down on their hind ends and work low off the front,but they have to be able to stop and hold they're hind end up underneith them in order to cut a cow and stay low up front. Most western pleasure quarter horses today are built pretty level,but appear to have that downhill conformation due to be trained to go with a lower headset. If they are young horses and still growing,being "butt high" is a normal part of a horse's growth stage,until they are done growing.

Edited by CeilingUnlimited

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Downhill horses can sprint, which is exactly what cow horses have to do. They need to go from zero to a milion miles an hour, even if only for the second it takes to stop a cow from going the wrong way. Thoroughbreds are also built downhill, though not as much as quarter horses, and quarter horses are faster over a quarter-mile than thoroughbreds. Presumably if being downhill impeded speed, it would have been bred out of thoroughbreds and racing quarter horses, as speed counts for more than anything when it comes to racing (well, yeah).

Well-trained, downhill horses with good conformation (and yes, that includes being downhill) know how to get their hocks beneath them to lift their shoulders up to move a cow, as a good uphill dressage horse does, though for different ends.

I don't know the mechanics of why being downhill makes them able to sprint the way they do, but it seems to count. Like anything, of course, too much downhill is not a good thing. Much in the way a short back is better than a long back, provided it's not too short. But downhill seems to count. A lot.

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