Conformation is a frequently misunderstood topic.  All too often, when people (even livestock breeders) think of conformation, they think of the cosmetic aspect, the eye appeal, of an animal.

The American Quarter Horse Association published a free PDF download on this topic from a different perspective: Conformation: The Relationship of Form to Function by Marvin Beeman, DVM.

As you would expect from a veterinarian, Dr. Beeman’s emphasis is on the way a horse’s physical build and appearance affects the way it moves and performs.

In part one, after a handy explanation of what conformation should mean, he goes on to break down the individual components of conformation and their significance:

  • Balance.
  • Head shape.
  • Ears.
  • Shoulder angles.
  • Legs and hooves.
  • Back length.

This part of the download is more hypothetical, using line drawings to illustrate the point.

In part two, Beeman reveals the proof of what he explained in the first part.  This section of the PDF is liberally illustrated with photos and X-rays of real horses, exhibiting both good and bad conformation.

If you want to understand conformation, this download is an outstanding presentation.  And it’s free!