Skip to content

How Would You Rank Conformational Faults - Expanded Poll Question

Posted February 7, 2002
Current USA Equestrian rules state that conformation accounts for 25% of American Saddlebred judging; in-hand classes specify 50%. However, little guidance is given as tot he relative importance of various conformational faults. These defects fall mainly into two categories: functional and aesthetic. Some functional faults will affect the horse's performance, therefore are more easily judged. Aesthetics are more a matter of opinion.

Because rules state that these and any other defects attributable to heredity must be penalized, a strong message is sent to American Saddlebred breeders as to what is or is not acceptable conformation.

Please consider how you would rank these faults from most penalized (1) to least penalized (9). Please email your comments prior to February 18, as we are providing the responses to the American Saddlebred Horse Association prior to their annual convention.

- Ideal: Well-shaped with large, wide-set, expressive eyes; gracefully shaped ears set close together on top of the head and carried alertly; a straight face line with a relatively fine muzzle and large nostrils, and a clean smooth jaw line
- Penalized: Lack of Saddlebred type, coarse or plain head, Roman nose, round jaws, lop ears, wide ears, small eyes

- Ideal: Long, arched and well flexed at the poll with a fine, clean throat latch
- Penalized: Short neck, straight neck, ewe neck, thick throat latch

- Ideal: Deep and sloping
- Penalized: Hollow chest, straight shoulders

- Ideal: Well defined and prominent
- Penalized: Flat withers

- Ideal: Strong and level, with well sprung ribs
- Penalized: Sway back, roached back

- Ideal: Level with a well-carried tail set on high
- Penalized: Crooked tail, low tail, unlevel

- Ideal: The front legs should be well forward, under the shoulder. The line of the hind leg, in a natural stance, should be vertical from the point of the buttock to the back edge of the cannon bone. The forearms and the hindquarters are well-muscled to the knees and hocks. Legs are straight with broad flat bones, sharply defined tendons and sloping pasterns.
- Penalized: Crooked legs, calved knees, over at the knee, bow legs, rough joints, round bones, straight pasterns, base stance too wide or too narrow, sickle hocks, cow hocks

- Ideal: Good and sound, open at the heel, neither toed in or toed out
- Penalized: Splay feet, pigeon toes, contracted heels

- Ideal: The ASB is well proportioned and presents a beautiful overall picture. The animal should be in good flesh, with good muscle tone and a smooth, glossy coat. Masculinity in stallions and femininity in mares are important.
- Penalized: Lack of muscle tone, thinness, obesity, rough coat, overall lack of conditioning

Please email your responses to Saddle Horse Report at [email protected]

Please send your email in prior to February 18, as we are providing the responses to the American Saddlebred Horse Association prior to their convention.

More Stories

  • Latest Issue 3 4 24

    Read More
  • Joint Leadership Council Reinstated

    Leaders of the American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association, American Hackney Horse Society, American Road Horse and Pony Association, and the United Professional Horsemen’s Association met Sunday evening to reinstate the Joint Leadership Council (JLC), comprised of leadership from all four membership organizations. Read More
  • Latest Issue 3 24 HW

    Read More
  • 2024 ASHBA Council and Committee Applications Are Now Live!

    If you are passionate about serving to strengthen the American Saddlebred Horse & Breeders Association (ASHBA) and the future of the American Saddlebred, you may be interested in joining one of ASHBA’s committees! ASHBA is proud to host a full slate of committees that allow all members to get involved. Read More
  • ASHBA Holding Statement Regarding World's Championship Horse Show

    The American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association has seen the Kentucky State Fair Board’s unexpected press release yesterday afternoon, after learning the day before of its plan to drop the United States Equestrian Federation as its governing body for the 2024 World Championship Horse Show. Read More
  • WCHS drops USEF, joins ESC

    Read More
  • WCHS Drops USEF, Joins ESC

    The World’s Championship Horse Show (WCHS) announced today that the Equine Sports Council (ESC) has been selected as the governing body ahead of the 2024 event. In February, the Kentucky State Fair Board unanimously approved the change, recognizing the importance of operating with Saddlebred-competition-tailored rules and standards emphasizing integrity, sportsmanship, and safety for the non-Olympic horse industry. Qualifying requirements for WCHS remain unchanged. Read More
  • Meet the Author Event with Emma Hudelson

    Join the American Saddlebred Museum on Friday, April 5 at 3:00 p.m. for a lecture, book signing and reception with Emma Hudelson author of Sky Watch: Chasing an American Saddlebred Story. This book is not only the tale of a remarkable horse, but of the American Saddlebred breed and the way these horses carried one rider back to herself.  Read More
  • 2024 USEF Saddle Seat Medal Finals Qualifying Season Has Begun

     US Equestrian invites saddle seat equitation athletes in the junior exhibitor and adult amateur ranks to plan their path to the 2024 USEF Saddle Seat Medal Finals. The finals will be held once again at the UPHA American Royal National Horse Show in Kansas City, Mo., in November. Read More
  • Morgan Stallion Sweeps Winners Drawn

    In conjunction with the United Breeders Committee, the New England Morgan Horse Association and New England Regional Morgan Horse Show, have drawn the 2023-2024 Morgan Stallion Sweeps winners. Read More