Every once in a while I like to take conformation photos of Billy to see how we are doing on my gymnastic program. I can evaluate where I need to focus some of my attention to help him develop and mature.
After I take my conformation/posture pictures I then put them in an online photoshop program called PicMonkey. There I add lines that help me be objective when looking at these photos. What does Billy look like now? What is the desired outcome for his posture? I have been doing this since I got him as a yearling so I have a lot to compare to! If you haven’t done this at all, now is as good a time as any to start!! You will see changes in your horse in as little as 6 months time. The trick is to be sure they are good changes.
One thing I look for is balance. This has changed with Billy since I brought him home and I suspect it will continue to change when I start riding him.
Here is Billy as a yearling.
As you can see he fits in a box nicely. But when I break that box into 3’s, the middle section is bigger than the hip and shoulder sections. This shows his back is a touch too long.
Here he is as a two year old.
This picture shows that his hip has gotten bigger, but his back section is still longer than the other two. I suspected that this would really start to change as his wither and shoulders move back and he started to use his hind end more. We did some hill therapy and continued with our canter trot transitions on line.
Here is Billy again, this picture was taken last summer and he was three.
As you can see his is starting to become more balanced and equal! Now I would like to focus on his croup flattening out and getting stronger. This will cause his hind end to tuck under more and give him more power from behind.
Here is a picture of my Andalusian stallion, Destino. This picture was taken when he was a 2 year old.
In this photo you can see that all sections are equal. Shoulders, back and hind end. This is the ideal and something to strive for. He was always balanced.
Some people think that to understand their horse’s weaknesses is to disrespect their horse. They feel that this is bad mouthing their horse and putting their horse down. These people won’t be honest about an evaluation. I feel that the reality is, it’s highly important to understand all your horse’s weaknesses so you can strengthen them and respect what your horse is capable of. If you understand what your horse can do then you can help him excel in those fields!
For instance Billy is not a jumper. He can jump a blue barrel, but he is not capable of jumping the blue barrels standing upright. That is fine with me. My Andalusian could clear a 7 foot fence from a stand still and that became a problem as far as keeping him IN a pen. If he didn’t want to be in there, he would simply jump out. The fact that Billy isn’t a jumper doesn’t phase me. But if my ultimate goal was to do 3 day Eventing it would be of utmost importance that I understand Billy’s down falls and not expect him to head out and jump 5 – 6 foot fences on a cross country course. That would be an ideal way for him to feel like I was doing things to him instead of with him.
Lucky for him I love dressage and that is my strong suit. With the correct handling I believe it will be Billy’s strong suit too. As long as I keep it interesting so he doesn’t feel like I’m drilling him. I have to take into consideration his physical and his emotional well being.