Hunted. Hunting. Hunter.

The following ad was sent to us by a concerned reader due to the horse’s unpleasing aesthetics.  Seriously, someone beat that horse with the ugly stick.  I was all ready to make fun of it with comments such as “what the hell are the sellers thinking,” “someone beat that horse with the ugly stick”, “who’s going to pay $3000 for that” and so on and so forth.  But then I started looking into what’s desired in a hunter mount and this horse may not be the worst option ever.

The first thing you want to look for when purchasing a hunter prospect is the way it moves.  Ideally, the hunter horse has kind of flat gaits, with minimal flexion of the joints (opposite of the expressive gaits one would look for in a dressage prospect).  (Check out wiki here for more info, or here is an insightful article from

I give you: Exhibit A

Now, I wouldn’t necessarily say that horse has a nice “long, sweeping stride” but he looks like he’d be pretty damn happy to go ’round the course in a long and low-type frame.

The next thing they look for in a nice little hunter horse, is his jump.  You want the hunter horse to have cute, neatly tucked up knees.  You want them to be efficient in the air – that is to say no “hang time” over the fence. While no jumping shots were provided, this little guy has quite the high point of shoulder, giving him the appearance of a fairly open shoulder angle which would theoretically allow him the freedom of movement to jump properly.

Unfortunately, when you draw in some lines and really examine the angle, it’s not that great.  And honestly, with such a high point of shoulder he’s got quite a bit of almost vertical chest – my expertise isn’t conformation (that’s JG’s area) but I am wondering how that would affect his jump.  Would it hinder his range of motion? Maybe cause him to dangle a leg over the fences?  Or would it not affect him?  Plus, when you look at the whole of him; the short neck, the less-than-ideal neck/shoulder attachment, the unclean throatlatch, the short back (which isn’t always a bad thing) and the weak gaskins…

he’s…well… goddam someone beat that horse with the ugly stick!  I’m sorry, I’m sure he’s got a lovely personality.  He is 3… that can be an awkward age… maybe he’ll grow out of some of those faults!

Whoever priced him at $3,000 was smoking crack.


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Posted on March 20, 2012, in Bad Horse Ads, Conformation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Awww, for $3,000 he could have gotten cleaned up for his pics. A nice new halter, but no brushing? Sheesh

  2. At least he has a chance of growing out of being downhill despite having a high point of shoulder. (then again, our barn has a retired show hunter who apparently did very well…who has to be six inches downhill. I got on him right after riding Bo and the difference was unimaginable. I wanted my Thoroughbred back!)


    Is he a funky shade of bay or did they not actually bother to GROOM him for that ‘conformation’ shot. I’m not sure…can anyone else tell?

  3. Give the booger a chance to grow out of the awkward stage. He may surprise.
    My friends Appendix QH was hideous until she hit 4. She was unbalanced and clumsy and just UGLY… And then she had this growth spurt, filled out in all the right places and my jaw hit the floor when I realized said ugly duckling was a swan and as graceful and agile as a ballerina.

    As for the price tag, they may want to consider switching to a higher end crack if they don’t want to get off it.

  4. The long shoulder and short upper arm actually allows a horse to snap his knees up, it’s not a given but it is easier. You pay for it in the short stride on the flat, as his picture shows.
    I don’t think he looks that bad, a thorough grooming and someone to stand him up better might help get him a more interested buyer.

  5. I’m sorry, but unless this horse poops gold he isn’t worth $3,000. Now for $500-$800 he might be a project worth taking on…

  6. Confirmationally that horse is 3 shades of ugly. Trying to pawn him of as a nice hunter is a bit of a stretch. Hunters should display a long, low movement, but the stride should also be ground covering with minimal effort from the horse. (you don’t want a short, going-now-where-fast type of stride…) In other words, if your horse were to ride in the fields (the purpose of the original hunter horse, he should be able to cover ground efficiently and maintain whatever gait you ask for a period of time- if you are galloping, yes your horse will be breathing hard, but if you are asking for a nice, brisk trot, your horse shouldn’t be huffing and puffing and struggling to keep up or maintain that gait, fitness is a factor here, but confirmation is also a huge factor…if he has to take an extra stride or 2 to keel up with the pack, that 2-3 times more exertion from the horse, a straight shoulder, now matter how long is going to be restrictive in that matter).

    The horse’s poll should be level or slightly above the wither and his head should be on or slightly in front of the vertical with a light contact. A thicker, or unclean throatlatch makes it hard for the horse to get on the vertical because, it blocks his airway. Think about it this way, a thinner more willowy person can bend at the waist and touch the ground and still be able to breath….A person who is thicker around the mid section (not necessarily fat), will have a harder time bending down and still be able to breathe… Horses with a cleaner, thinner, more defined throatlatch have an easier time flexing at the poll onto the vertical, while not restricting airflow as much as a horse that is thicker in the throatlatch.

    You have pretty much covered his shoulder…..But still on the upper part of the horse, his topline is not as clean or smooth as it could be. His withers protrude quite a bit (and it looks like he’s had some time off and not at his peak fitness level). Withers tie into a nearly no existant back. His coupling is long (which make his back weaker and more prone to back issues as well). The coupling ties into a nice round croup (which is good!). If you divide the body up into 3 sections (the forehand-ending just behind the heartgirth, the trunk- ending just fron of the flanks, and rear everything else behind the flanks), he is like 3 different horses. His head and neck, don’t tie in well or match the trunk of his body. The trunk of his body is pretty thick. The trunk and rear, tie in and match better the the forehand, but they still are a little odd, and don’t necessarily match.

    We haven’t even gotten to the legs and feet….The front pasterns are pretty straight, which means he is more then likely going to be more prone to injury jumping. The heel of the hoof should be under the pastern. You can see with the straight pastern, his hooves are actually in front (draw a line going down the center of the leg and into the ground and you will see how far infront his pasterns are. Ideally on most of the angles of the horse (whether it is his shoulder, his croup, his pasterns, angle of the hooves, etc you want to have a 45 degree angle towards the ground. That is the ideal angling to have the most movement in the joints, and still have the most amount of shock absorbtion from the joints that supply that…..Straight pasterns are prone to injury espescially when jumping, because they can’t handle the shock and force of having all the horse’s (and rider’s) weight on two small tiny little posts…It’s very jarring and creates a lot of excessive concussion that the joints can’t handle, thus breaking down more quickly then a horse with short nicely angled pastern that CAN absorb the concussion more easily….

    Also, I can’t tell with out seeing the hind from the rear, but in the trotting picture it looks like this horse paddles severly in the hind end (see how the right hind seems to stretch inside and under the horse’s body, and the left hind seems to be stretching towards the inside as well, with a slight rotation of the hocks…..and indictation that he is cow-hocked. When looking at a horse from the rear, the hocks should be straight, with adequate and uniform spacing between the hind legs. In cow-hocked horses, when viewed from the rear, the hocks turn in and most often, the horse’s feet also point outward (pigeon-toed), which causes a paddling motion when the horse is striding, most noticeable at the trot. What this means is that there is more stress on the horse’s joints (the surrounding muscles and ligaments have to work extra hard to keep everything where they should be). And when things are constantly stressed like that, where everything is working hard (and we are talking with just flat work- not jumping), the joints and muscles are more prone to injury….

    Don’t know how old this guy is, but with the horrible confirmation, he is going to be predisposed to injuries and things like arthritis, especially if someone tries to do a lot of jumping with him. I will say one thing, especially with horse’s that have less then ideal confirmation, people should think about hiring a photographer, to help show the horse in the best light possible (even with proper confirmation shots, a good trainer will still be able to point out some of the flaws. If there is a video or the trainer sees the horse move, they will be able to tell pretty quickly whether the horse is suitable or not for their purposes). These pictures are horrible, and maybe the horse’s confirmation isn’t nearly as bad as what I am seeing (the trot picture is crap and the “confirmation” shot sucks too, considering he’s not standing square, so to really look and see the angles accurately is difficult. Both shots, are making his flaws stick out like a sore thumb. Pending his age and training, my thinking is he would make a decent beginners hunter mount (walk- trot, maybe a little canter and maybe some very small jumps- like a child’s puddle-jumper). Be to ask him to do much more, with higher jumps, will only cause this horse’s joints to break down quicker and he’ll become a pasture pet more quickly.

    And if I was looking at this horse, I wouldn’t offer more then $1000- $1500- which would be pushing it….

    • Just a quick reply because I’m at work. The horse is 3 – so he won’t have much of a topline and is most likely at the height of his awkward/ugly 3 year old-ness so a few aesthetics can be forgiven… for now! Next, cow hocks aren’t the worst conformational flaw – it completely depends on their severity. A horse that toes out does not necessarily have cow hocks – cow hocks aren’t just about the hocks pointing inwards, it’s about the angle. Ugh sorry, don’t have time to go into detail but Deb Bennett did an amazing article in Equus on this maybe 2 months ago. Might be available on their website?

      from wiki: (
      Cow Hocks/Medial Deviation of the Hocks/Tarsus Valgus

      Hocks deviate toward each other, with the cannon and fetlock to the outside of the hocks when the horse is viewed from the side. Gives the appearance of a half-moon contour from the stifle to hoof. Often accompanied by sickle hocks.
      Fairly common, usually seen in draft breeds.
      Disadvantages to trotting horses, harness racers, jumpers, speed events, and stock horses.
      Many times Arabians, Trakehners, and horses of Arabian descent are thought to have cow hocks. But really the fetlocks are in alignment beneath the hocks, so they’re not true cow hocks.
      A slight inward turning of hocks is not considered a defect and should have no effect.
      A horse with a very round barrel will be forced to turn the stifles more out, giving a cow-hocked appearance
      Medial deviation in true cow hocks causes strain on the inside of the hock joint, predisposing the horse to bone spavin. Abnormal twisting of pastern and cannon predisposes fetlocks to injury.
      More weight is carried on medial part of hoof, so it is more likely to cause bruising, quarter cracks, and corns. The lower legs twist beneath the hocks, causing interfering.
      The horse develops relatively weak thrust, so speed usually suffers.

      It would be very interesting to see a hind pic of this guy. He does look like he’d have a large barrel so that could cause the appearance of cow hocks as he compensates for that, but it’d remain to be seen if/how his way of traveling would affect his musculoskeletal structure.

  7. And he would have to be much more fit, and pretty far a long in his training for me to offer closer towards the $1500. He looks like he has had some time off, so I wouldn’t offer more then $1000. If he hasn’t had much training and is more of a “project” horse, my offer would be much lower or just completely pass him over. The sad thing is the american horse market is inundated and over saturated with crap-bred, conformationally flawed horses.

  8. I think folks need to re-read the fact he has likely NEVER had “time off”.. he is only 3, he is probably not broke, if he is then it was much younger and that might account for “time off”…
    Again unlikely as he is only THREE
    poor thing… yup thank gawd for gelding..
    There is a small auction in the beginning of May, I will try to get pics of the poor fuglies that are brought in there to be sold every year…

  9. Where is the auction in WI?

  10. Susan Mandersson

    The shoulder should be as close to 45 degree angle as possible; I was always told – for smoothness in a saddle horse. (And efficient movement in a dog btw. Fascinating book to read is “The Dog In Action” about dogs conformation written by a judge of horses. Same issues no matter what size.)
    A “well laid back” shoulder; and “well let-down in the hocks”; kind of vague old horseman’s terms.
    Pasterns should be the same angle and not too short, his aren’t short. He’s not bad. Neck is a bit short but he has nice big withers which gives you “horse in front of you”. I like his head, it’s intelligent, and his legs are strong and solid; looks like good bone. Cannon bones look not too long, and strong. Big body, not herring-gutted – but a bit too short and maybe a bit roach-backed? All in all – quarters look good and strong but can’t see if cowhocked. Looks fine to me.
    Any horse can (and should) do dressage, which is just “training”. Those high stepping gaits don’t mean everything, they’re also known as “auction gaits” by high end riders. Power from behind and reach plus a healthy flexible spine are more important.
    People are too ready to classify and label horses, based on looks, when really – any horse can do mostly what you want it to, with decent training. And if you don’t secretly believe you’re going to the Olympics.

  11. He’s a youngster and looks to be one of the “slow to come into his own” types. Nevermind the fact that he’s in his woolies still, ungroomed, and NOTHING was done to flatter him at all.
    He’s standing on unlevel, uneven ground.. and no one seems to have made any attempt to stand him square.
    All these things are making him look “uglier” than he actually is.

    Stepping back and looking at him… he’s really not all that awful. His sickle hocks and his short, thin, poorly attached neck are his worst faults.

    The appearance of the neck can be improved with proper riding and conditioning.. won’t add length but it’ll make him look a lot more balanced.
    The sickle hocks aren’t a deal breaker for me and they’re not of any real severity, but they could potentially limit him athletically.

    With more physical maturity and proper conditioning he’ll probably shape up into a decent looking, round the course, packer.

  12. It’s amazing how often a horse like this will clean up in the show ring, even though it’s conformation says it shouldn’t. He’s got a basket of faults, but what you don’t know is if he has “heart”. Some of the best horses I’ve ever shown looked like 2 different horses sewn together and some of the best conformation and best bred ones, ended up as duds. I wouldn’t count him out from just a few crummy photos from someone who should be photographing potted plants and an inattentive groom who doesn’t seem to own a brush.

  13. My horse was a tiny fugly MESS until he turned 4. I was actually scared I had accidentally purchased a Frankenhorse; he was seriously dorky and sometimes I look at those pictures and cringe. I have to say, though, at least he had a big head and a loooooonnnnnng neck. This poor guy looks like he ordered the wrong size neck altogether! His head is go giant and then that teensy tiny little neck just doesn’t fit. I hope he finds a lovely home where he can pack some 4H kid around a little hunter course. He looks sweet, at least.

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