Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Horse Conformation--Old Western Horseman Mags

The weather has dropped into the 30's at night, and they're predicting a drop into the 20's this weekend.

Here's a picture of the barnyard this morning--30's--but Beautiful.

I've scheduled my first appointment with an English instructor for some "Western" dressage lessons in the barn next door. My first lesson will be this Friday. I'm pretty excited about it since it will give me something to work on during the winter with my horses. Usually (here in Spokane) I do very little with them once it starts to snow. Of course, since I moved here I have lived through the 3rd and 1st snowiest seasons EVER in this city. Maybe, just maybe, that had something to do with it.

I've taken Western Dressage lessons before with another instructor, but had to haul to her barn--something I don't like to do on bad roads. Now, I'll just have to saddle him up and ride over.

I'll be taking lessons, to begin with, on my thirteen year old horse, Cowboy. She wants me to bring his snaffle (though right now he uses a curb) and his normal Western saddle. He's long backed and long necked, so my issues with him are getting him to round up and push himself forward from his hind--maybe that's every horse's issue.

But I'm more or less taking them for me. I have a tendency to get lazy in the saddle--maybe because I've ridden Cowboy for so long I'm just really comfortable. On long rides, when I stop to pay attention to my seat here and there, I realize I'm sitting too far back--more like I'm in a comfy chair than on horseback. I can handle side jumps and fast scoots forward, but the thing that will unseat me is a powerful thrust forward--an unexpected jump over a log or stream. Not that it happens very often, but the once or twice that it did, I realized I need to pay more attention to me--more for when I'm on other horses--like my young filly, Cia.

So, I should probably take her over and work with her as well. This would be a great opportunity. She's only four and I've ridden her the last two summers lightly. She is very willing to do anything, but needs some education on what I'm asking for.

I think she will be an excellent dressage type horse. She has a powerful hind to begin with and moves easily from her back. Her neck and back are also well proportioned for easy collection. She does have front legs that are a bit cow-hocked or splay-footed. Not as bad as in the picture I'm going to show you--but I found this in an old Western Horseman mag that my neighbor gave me. I'll include a few photos--if you click on them, you might even be able to read the print.

Any ideas about horse conformation? My farrier said there is no perfect horse, and if you found one, you wouldn't want to ride it because it would be uncomfortable. Linda Tellington-Jones' book about conformation is very interesting. I think it's good to know the basics so that you know where your horse might have issues.

Here's a picture from the weekend--my husband walking our granddaughter on Old Red.


  1. Don't you just love learning new things, expanding your thoughts and skills like that? On some level, it gives us a richer understanding of the subject, of our passion. I'll bet you'll love those lessons, and the horses will probably like the extra attention it'll give them over the winter too. Good luck!

  2. Oh, I'm so jealous! I want to take lessons too! I also am uncomfortable hauling my trailer once the roads get the least bit icy. Lucky you to have someone within riding distance!

    Have fun, Linda! Love the cat house, by the way! Our "barn" cats come in the house at night, so I guess they're more like house cats than barn cats, though they do hang out there during the day. Our male is a great hunter -- If I could find a way for him to leave the baby quail alone, I'd be happy!

  3. Joanne--I do like taking lessons--with different instructors. Each person has a unique perspective and it's always eye opening for me. I'm really excited for tomorrow.

    Laura--you're not the first person to say you've had a good male hunter, and now I remember back to my parent's cat who was also an awesome hunter--a male as well--so I stand corrected!

  4. Hi Linda - Willow is cow hocked in her hind end. The trainer really noticed it as a yearling when I first got her, but she is a smooth ride and it has never bothered her. Have fun at your lesson - that is something I have only done once, but it didn't go well I didn't understand what he was asking me to do and he wouldn't change the way he was asking (it was frustrating). I will have to try it again some time.

  5. Hi Tina--that's interesting that your horse is cow-hocked and a smoothe ride--good to know. My farrier thought Cia would be smoothe, too. She's still young and not at all collected, so we'll see, but she doesn't seem too bad so far. I'm hoping as her chest develops she'll straighten out some more.

  6. It's already got down to 22 here. The summers are hotter, drier and the winters are colder..horrible!
    Lucky you getting to ride to lessons.


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