When I described, to Sunny, my best horse, she was able to give me some language about what that horse was likely to look like. It doesn’t mean that every horse who looks that way is going to necessarily have the feel I like but just that they are more likely to.
Having a language to describe the horse with the highest probability of being what you want and then being able to look at a horse and identify those characteristics gives you the opportunity to narrow down your shopping list and reduce your chances of making a purchase you regret later.
(BTW, Corky Linfoot said something very similar in his PoloSkilz video, The Steps In Buying a Horse.)
Some of the terminology I was familiar with, like “short back”, for example, or small (duh!). But one term Sunny used, I had heard but didn’t really know what it meant. That term was “low in the hock”.When buying a horse, the hock is important because the angle and conformation of its hind legs will, to a large extent, determine its speed, power, and stride.
Typically, when you look at a horse from the side, on flat ground, and draw a line from the knees, parallel to the ground, back to the hocks, the line will intersect just at or below the point of the hocks. Similarly, in this case, you will notice the hock is roughly midway between the ground and the stifle.
If that line intersects significantly above or below that point then the horse is said to be either high or low in the hocks.
In doing some research on hocks, I found that, also, when viewed from the side, if you dropped an imaginary line from the point of their butt down to the ground, that line should just cut through the back of their hocks and run down the back of their cannon bones on its way to the ground.
Some people, myself included, prefer a horse with a shorter hock set, which means it has a shorter cannon bone in relationship to the rest of the hind leg. The reason being this often gives the horse more power for pushing, rollbacks and and quick turns because it can “get its hocks under it”. That horse will appear a little bit “squatty”.Others will prefer a higher set hock. This conformation allows for a long, powerful stride, making it faster and able to cover more ground. This horse is often said to be “camped out” and “downhill”.
There is obviously a lot more to it, but this is one aspect of choosing a horse that is built to perform in a style that is most suitable to you.
I am curious if you know what characteristics are common to the horses you love to play? If you do, share them in the comments. If you don’t, try the exercise Sunny gave me. Understanding why you like what you like is tremendously helpful.
And again, if you didn’t get a chance to hear Sunny’s webinar on The Secret to Buying Great Horses You Love To Play, be sure to check that out on PoloSkilz.com.
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So that is what I learned today… how about you? What did you learn today? Share it with us by leaving it in the comments …