Examples of "Good Shoulders" On A Mini

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Aspiring Cowgirl
Nov 30, 2002
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Spotsy., VA (USA)
I don't have a picture I feel okay about holding out as a good example because I am wanting to be shown examples of what our members think are good shoulders in minis, and bad ones if anyone has that kind of an example.

Just yesterday, someone asked for good and bad examples of how a neck ties in. I had wondered the same, too, and the thread was really a great educational tool. I hope this could maybe be the same! I learned a lot from the other (thanks, Tia / Small Herd!!!).
Ok, I'll play. I'll also show you what LOOKS to be "bad shoulders" on the same horse, because of the angle of the picture and the light, just so you can see that you can't totally rely on one picture.

Here is my B gelding, Magic Mist Color On Fire. A shoulder should be "laid back", ie, not at a steep angle. This allows the horse to reach with his/her front legs and have extension.

Fire has excellent extension.

Now here is Fire again, but for some reason, whether it is the angle of the picture, the glare of light on his body, or his coloring (or all three), his shoulder LOOKS "steep" in this pic. It really isn't, but for some reason it sure does look like it.

I have more pictures of him if that would be helpful. I will see if I have any others that might work for this thread. It would be great if we could show some "bad" shoulders too, for comparison, even if it is like Fire's and is just the one pic that seems to be so.
This is little Sugar very pregnant in fact over due but she has what I would call a steep shoulder. When she trots she moves like a little sewing machine.


Sweet Tarts is better he has a nice extension in his trot

Carbons is the best. She has really good extension and reach and is being trained for roadster this year.

[SIZE=14pt]The pictures are great, but I am dense! Can someone draw lines and arrows to help illustrate what you all are saying and the exact areas we're looking at. I'm not getting it (yet?).[/SIZE]
lyn, I meant to comment on your other thread...I love Carbon! She is a perfect example of how beautiful neck and shoulders go hand in hand -- they just flow into one another. I believe this is what you were talking about with how the neck should tie into the withers?

Magic, Fire amazes me every time I see him -- WOW, what a chest...what pecs!
Obviously this is not a mini......but a well set on neck is a well set on neck. Do you see the clean straight line you can make from the chest to the throat? I can't make lines because I would have to put it back on my website. But there are no bulges.......its a smooth clean VERTICAL line.

And sorry to post pictures of Arabs......but that is what I do and what I have access to on the website.


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More examples of what a "cleanly" set on neck looks like.


[SIZE=13pt]Alright, I'm picking at my horse pictures. Am I "getting it"?[/SIZE]









I'm still not sure though that I'm looking at the right area to evaluate shoulders. If I'm looking "right" then Spirit (appy mare) is my worst example, yet she is also my horse with the most floating extension I've ever seen first hand...
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Okay, I want a 34" version of your bay horse Carol! I think you've posted pictures of him in the past, gorgeous.

Jill, yes you are getting it. But to confuse issues even more you can have a well set on neck and still have a straight shoulder. A good shoulder is well "laid back" (90 Degrees) You can see the definition of the shoulder under the skin...............the straighter the poorer and also a poorer mover.

Sorry........no that bay is a yearling Gelding........not the stallion that I posted before. The bay was National Champion Gelding. I know the stallion you are speaking of though. He is AMAZING and was Unanimous National Champion and going back again this year. It ought to be fun.
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[SIZE=13pt]Is it the point of the chest I should be looking at? (dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb... I am asking about a location on a horse and am not sure where exactly I should look...)[/SIZE]
hehehe, I thought I'd start one like this today and here it is already! I've got to go through some of my conformation books tonight and find some diagrams to copy for you guys, there's some really great stuff.

Ideally, the scapula (shoulder blade) will form a 90 degree angle with the humerus (bone between the scapula and the forearm). The line of the shoulder formed by the scapula itself should be a 45 degree angle. And the higher the point of the shoulder, the easier it is for the horse to bring that humerus forward and give you some true reach through that shoulder. Picture it this way- if the horse has a low point of the shoulder where scapula and humerus meet, the horse has all that humerus bone tucked away almost horizontal. He or she would have to sort of "drop" or "unfold" that bone in order to use it, and there's simply not enough distance between their body and the ground during a stride to allow them to do that. But a horse with a high point of the shoulder already has that humerus at an angle and all they have to do is swing it forward. Voila, reach!

In a riding horse, the angle of the shoulder is also important because you get shock absorption through the shoulder and front pasterns (and those two angles should be identical no matter what that angle is.) The steeper the angle, the more directly that concussion travels up the leg and jars the rider/pounds the horse's joints. Again, you want 45 degrees.

I will post later with pictures of some of our horses. Spyderman and Kody both have excellent shoulders, but my mother's Arab Bo has a very steep angle and the difference is obvious when riding him.

The new carriage driving book I'm reading also has some great information about how the conformation of the shoulder affects a driving horse's ability to move while in draft as well. I'll try to post it all! Complete with little lines and arrows and pointy highlighting thingies.

I think what she means is the angle of the shoulder and how 'deep' it is. Look where the withers are in relation to the front of the chest or the point of the shoulder. The more sloping the angle, versus one that is 'straight up and down' the better movement and reach you should get.

Of the pics below, I would pick the palomino over the ones pictures right above and below it. The one dark one pictured under the appy has a good slope to the shoulder.

And whoever owns those Arabs!! I'll take the bay but that gray is NICE.
[SIZE=14pt]I cant make lines on the pics....dont know how but yes Jill I think you are getting it.[/SIZE]

I agree with Magic that sometimes the pictures change the look of the angles. Sweeties pic makes his shoulder look straighter than I feel it is. Sugars is actually straighter than it even looks because she is standing behind her front feet.

Thanks Suzanne for your coment about Carbon .I feel she is the best example I have right now.

I'm going to keep watching this thread. Still confused! But that's good, because it means I'm forcing myself to think! There's a lot more to good conformation than straight legs / good bite. I can pick somethings easy, like too long in the back... but this thing about how the neck ties in and the slope of the shoulder isn't fitting in my head as quickly. I like the pointer to look from the withers to the point of the chest.

Also, I am getting ready to change the first picture I posted to one more square on to give a more view closer to the pose of the others.
[SIZE=13pt]Okay LIGHT BULB Moment![/SIZE]

When you all are talking about slope, and say straigher is better, what I've been looking at is how "flat" is the chest from in front of the legs to the bottom of the neck.

NOW I think what you are meaning is look a the slope from the withers crossing through the horse to the point of the chest that sticks out? Or to the base of the neck? Either way, until just now really I was looking at the front of the horse only even though it just dawned on me about 5 minutes ago to also consider the distance between the withers and the chest... Now I think you mean consider that distance and the slope of that, and not at all what I was looking at (front of the chest).
I think (I know) I'm still confused... can someone draw a line across the shoulder on a "good" example versus a "not-so-good" example?
Hosscrazy said:
I think (I know) I'm still confused... can someone draw a line across the shoulder on a "good" example versus a "not-so-good" example?

Me too! I am still very lost..
When you all are talking about slope, and say straigher is better
No..........when we are talking about shoulders.........straighter is NOT better.

For lack of being able to draw on a good horse here is what I can find.

Look at the left hand side.........do you see the lines? Then on the right hand side there is an even better drawing without looking at just the skeletal structure. do you see those sort of dashes.........see how the top is so much straighter than the bottom photo? That is what you should be looking for.


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