Well in a perfect world we’d love all horses to be built perfectly correct and ride smooth also be top breeding quality but that’s not real life. I know you’re thinking right now “you’re so wrong my horse is perfect and does it all!”… well Karen I’m happy you’re so in love with your horse as you should be! A good horse is hard to find but most have one thing about them that makes them one career or the other. I’m going to cover those traits, the benefits of an imperfect horse and why we shouldn’t be so hard on judging them. There’s always a career that best suits every horse. It’s usually us, as riders who don’t listen to what they would be best suited for and put them in a job they can only do 80% the best of their ability because their heart just isn’t in it. Horses will tell you what they would excel in just be patient.
The flawed horse is my utmost favorite! These horses are “rejects” from big halter and show barns. They are discarded and undervalued in general because they aren’t perfect. I own two youngsters that a a result of this and they are the best youngsters I’ve ever had! They are easy to train, love to work, bred well, out of and by multiple world champion parents, pretty and the smoothest rides ever! The only thing wrong is they don’t have perfect legs. Both are cow hocked and my gelding “paddles” with one front leg. So what? Yes they won’t win anything in halter but they are pleasure show horse’s. Conformation doesn’t matter in riding careers! Moral of this story is too many people put too much weight in horse’s builds when purchasing anymore. If it’s perfectly built, that horse isn’t going to be the best athlete or the smoothest ride. Sometimes confirmation flaws make the horse smoother and much more enjoyable to ride. The correct horse’s are best suited for breeding and halter. The slightly imperfect horse’s are best suited for riding careers.
When looking at a horse don’t judge it on the stigma “if it’s not confotamionally correct it’s not a good horse”… how many of us are not perfect? Yes I went there! Look at yourself, be as critical on yourself as you are on these horses you criticize. Now after you’ve realized you’re out of shape, eat too much fast food, stressed, tired, have a pin in your ankle from an old sports injury, a ruptured disc in your back and can’t walk far due to bad knees… lets take another look at this horse that just has a slightly turned out front foot.
It’s all in perspective! The horse with a slightly turned out foot may not be great for high impact sports like jumping 5ft fences but he would rock it as a trail horse or open show horse right? Just like saying I’m not going to put you in a race and make a lot of money if I bet on you with all your issues but it doesn’t mean you’re not successful and a great mom. This horse may not be the horse you would breed because of the funky foot but he could be your best friend if you let him.
The pros of conformity faults are always a fun one for me to explain to folks. They come into this conversation thinking only horse’s with straight, correct legs are worth buying. Any horse with a fault is trash. That’s what close minded does to a person. They think that way but never realize the beauties of these faults and how they actually make the horse more enjoyable to ride!
Short backs v.s long backed horse’s- short backs are correct and strong. But nothing about that is smooth unless you like jack hammers… long backs make for a smooth ride and your horse won’t pull their shoes off by over reaching with the hind legs. It’s also easier to fit a saddle to a long backed horse in my opinion.
Straight legs v.s cow hocked horse’s- straight is visually appealing and considered correct but you go into a big reining barn you’ll see nothing but cow hocked horse’s because they absorb the shock better and stop harder than straight legged horses.
Correct hock angle v.s slightly sickle hocked- sickle hocks are more angled than usual but they are very smooth and they absorb more concussion of the gaits making for a smooth ride you can go all day!
So take in consideration your flaws and how you’ve adapted and overcame them you’re doing just fine. Stop being so critical on these slightly imperfect horse’s. They aren’t useless you just need to help them find what they are made for. I love my “rejects” I wouldn’t trade them for a correct horse ever!