Driving Conformation

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~Amanda~

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I'm looking to learn more about driving conformation, specifically in terms of miniature horses.

Most sites I can find that detail 'proper' conformation are geared toward riding: hunters, jumpers, cutting, etc.

I haven't had much luck finding out what makes ideal conformation for a hardness/driving horse.

So, can the experts help me out?


Pictures would be wonderful as well if anyone wants to show their successful driving horses!
 

Reignmaker Miniatures

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I don't claim to be an expert but here are some of the things I look for in a driving horse. I want a good hip (the power to push that vehicle under harness comes from there) and good rear leg angles. I want a free moving horse with a good stride length. I want a short back and a deep chest area and well laid back shoulders which will help with that stride length and freedom of movement. The neck needs to come out high up on the chest, in essence there must be space for the breast collar on the chest, some minis especially have such a low neck/chest connection that there is nowhere to put that collar that won't cut off the horses air supply and interfere with their movement. I like a decent length to the neck, and a slender throat latch. A thick throat latch will interfere with the horse's ability to collect because it will not allow the horse to carry its head in the correct position (understand that when a horse collects its entire body becomes like a coiled spring so the neck and head are part of that equation) Pretty much everything I have described would make a good performance horse in any category. Think dressage and you have the structure I want for a driving horse. Of course none of that means if your horse is not ideal it can't be a driving horse, it just means it will be limited in its scope just as surely as most horses can run but only a very will be contenders on the track. The absolute most important thing I look for in a driving horse is its mind. That is something that no amount of perfection in structure can compete with. If the horse is imperfect physically but has a love for driving it will out perform the better conformed horse that doesn't enjoy the work every time.
 

disneyhorse

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Something to also take into consideration is the TYPE of driving horse you want. What helps a Park harness mini trot might not be the same conformation you'd want in a dressage ADS type of mini...

However, a horse with "solid" conformation (straight legs, longer neck, etc) will hold up to performance demands regardless of its angles.

I would echo looking into desired conformation of a dressage horse though. Upright horses with a powerful rear will get you further in most driving disciplines.

Andrea
 

targetsmom

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I once asked a trainer about what to look for in a driving horse and his answer was "temperament". We have a lovely gelding with the comformation described above, but he is NOT ever going to get hooked by us. He is too spooky plus he is claustrophobic and can't handle something like shafts against his sides. I agree with Reignmaker on what I look for in a driving horse, especially the length of stride.

My ideal driving horse conformation/movement: Photo by Getitia Methany



Our gelding who has OK conformation, but not the mind to go with it!

 
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Minimor

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This is my ideal conformation for a driving horse, no matter if it is a Mini, pony, or full size horse:



Long hip, long, well laid back shoulder, good legs, neck that is well set on with nice fine throatlatch—when I see this conformation I know the horse can move well!
 
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Sandee

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Good advice. However, conformation isn't everything. My mare isn't the best example of conformation but she has a lot of HEART. She will go anywhere, do anything we ask of her. Does she always win - no but it's a joy to drive her and completely safe. She is truly an all around peformance horse as she does jumping, obstacle and driving ( any of the levels from the "head down" western to the roadster class).

The second boy is so odd looking that I almost passed on buying him. However, the trainer was a bit more far sighted than I was and this guy has HOF in Park Harness Over in just 2 years and last season nearly swept all the Park Nationals classes. This year he has also been trained and used for leadline. Sometimes ya never know what they'll do.

Mandy2010.jpg2011_AMHR_Magic_Sandy.jpg
 

susanne

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This is my ideal conformation for a driving horse, no matter if it is a Mini, pony, or full size horse:



Long hip, long, well laid back shoulder, good legs, neck that is well set on with nice fine throatlatch—when I see this conformation I know the horse can move well!
I need my smelling salts! This horse illustrates my ideal, too.

.
 

MiLo Minis

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I wrote an article on what I look for in a driving horse. It is on my website in the educational pages if you are interested to read it : www.maplemountainminis.com
 

Jill

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When it comes to MINIS, I do think it's not par for par in terms of full size horse confirmation. We do not ask the same duty of our mini driving horses as our full size horses who may drive, ride, jump of course while carrying weight... In my book, you want a strong hip and a good chest. When it comes to your desire for knee action, there are some leg confirmation characteristics that will contribute to knee action, high or flat (different confirmation). Depending on what you want... I think a little over at the knee gives beautiful higher knee action. Toeing out is not a negative if you don't also plan to halter. Flat knee formation leads to more extension... so your desired class (breed shows) or discipline, IMO, is a factor when it comes to what you should look for in your driving horse.
 
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Minimor

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I disagree about knee conformation affecting height of action. Action comes from the shoulder--you don't need over at the knee to have higher action!
 

MiLo Minis

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I agree with Holly - knee action comes from the structure of the shoulder and elbow connection. Over at the knee is going to break down relatively quickly and would be a definite undesireable for me for any discipline.
 

disneyhorse

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Yep minimor... High action comes from the shoulder... And can be enhanced by the length of leg parts (forearm vs cannon bones, as well as length and slope of the pasterns) and has nothing to do with being over at the knee.
 

ruffian

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I agree that Temperament and attitude contribute highly to the performance of a driving horse. I had a rather ugly little horse that would trot his heart out and made National Top Ten. Long backed, big kneed, toed out front and back. But he would throw those feet like there was no tomorrow. On the flip side I saw a World Grand Champion stallion - on the very small side - that moved like a shetland. He shouldn't have been able to move that way given his halter conformation but he sure could
 

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