Conformation faults

Poor conformation faults can affect a horses ability to perform a certain task. The horse may be suitable for one job, but not another. If you were looking for a top show horse prospect, you would need perfect conformation to succeed at this high level.

If you were buying a hunting horse and wanted to hunt for several hours, a horse who gave you a comfortable ride, would be more important to you than the horse that had better conformation but gave you a choppy ride, which might jar your back.

So access the horse’s conformation on what you want it to do.

Severe parrot mouth

The upper teeth are protruding over the lower teeth. This is called a parrot mouth.

If the lower teeth protrude from the upper teeth, it is known as an undershot jaw or sow mouthed.

Both conformation faults affect the ability to bite food such as grass but not the ability to chew.


The term ewe-neck is when the horse has a high head carriage and its top line is concave.

With correct work the top line, will improve.

Some  horses with ewe-necks often have a big bulge of muscle underneath the neck.

This is due to the horse not working correctly.

Narrow chest

A narrow chest gives the impression that both front-legs are coming out of the same hole.

If the horse is too narrow in front, he will move close in front with the likely hood of brushing.

To protect the horse, brushing boots should be used at all times.

A horse that is narrow in front is not everybody’s ride.

When you ride the horse, you get the feeling that there is nothing in front of you.

Split up behind

A horse that is “split up behind” when viewed from the rear, means a poorly developed upper thigh.

Cow hocks

When viewed from behind, if the hocks turn in towards each other and the feet turn out, the horse is said to have cow hocks.

This poor conformation creates a weakness.

Bowed hocks

When viewed from behind if the hocks are wide apart and the toes turn in, it is called bowed hocks.

The foot is also likely to screw as it places it down on the ground.

Sickle hocked

When viewed from the side and there is a more acute angle to the hocks, or the hock and fetlock is slightly in front of the imaginary line, which should be a straight line from the point of buttock to the centre of the hock, cannon bone, fetlock joint and so to the ground.

The horse is said to be sickle hocked.

Straight hocks

A horse with straight hocks is more liable to strain, and a young horse could suffer from a slipped stifle joint, but as the youngster matures, the muscles and ligaments strengthen and usually rectify themselves.

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Conformation faults >> Home

Horses conformation and how to assess.

Correct conformation

Does the horse have suitable conformation for the job you intend it to do?

Foreleg conformation

Conformation - reflective actions