Conformation and Posture


Corny above, Blue below

Kathy Colman Photography came to take some pictures of us for the Thoroughbred Makeover’s website.  (You can check out Blue’s profile and Corny’s profile at these links.)

To me, the brothers look very different.  But reviewing the photos, and really looking hard at them, their conformation is extremely similar.  The slight differences I see are:

  • The underside of Blue’s  neck is a bit shorter than Corny’s
  • Blue’s neck ties in a bit higher than Corny’s
  • Blue’s shoulder is more sloping than Corny’s and his front legs are set a bit more forward
  • Blue’s teeny muzzle is slightly larger than Corny’s weeny muzzle

I really had to look hard to come up with these differences, so why do these horses move very differently from one another?  The answer lies in their posture.  When we were setting Corny up for his photo, we had to work hard to get him to obtain the same stance as Blue.

Corny’s usual stance above, and his contrived stance below
I think these pictures of Corny look more dissimilar than the pictures of Corny and Blue at the beginning of the article (aside from their markings).  Posture makes a big difference!  You can see in the above picture that Corny has a slight ewe neck, you can see the bottom of his neck bulges slightly forward.  This causes his back to drop a little.  When a horse raises their neck and drops their back, that is called hollowing.  It is not the best way for a horse to bare weight, or the most efficient way for the horse to travel.


Ultimately, we don’t want our horses to travel with a hollow outline.  Proper training will teach a horse to bring his back up and stretch his neck longer.  This helps the horse rely more on his large muscles and less on his joints when traveling.  This change can help the horse stay sounder, move better, and be a more comfortable ride.  

Above Corny shows neck constriction, Below he stretches like brother Blue.  My favorite image of neck constriction is E.T.

E.T. and his neck

In the four months that Corny has been with us, we’ve been working in showing him that he doesn’t need to thrust the bottom of his neck forward and constrict it in order to move faster.  He’s starting to get it, and I am excited to see the changes he makes in his posture over the next several months.

About the Author: Ali Kermeen runs her training business in the hills above Silicon Valley.  She loves horses, movies, and raptors. Oh and her family too.  Ali is aiming to take full brothers Olympic Blue and Olympic Maize to the 2017 Thoroughbred Makeover held in October in Kentucky.

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