Eventing Nation is excited to introduce Brianna McHorse to study equine conformation in the event horse. Brianna is conducting this study as part of her thesis research, seeking to quantify “good conformation” within each level of competition in real numbers, and see just how much conformation really affects performance. Brianna will be studying photographs and competition records, as well as horses in the flesh, during this study. She’s looking for willing participants, so if you’d like to help out, read more below!
Hello Eventing Nation!
I am an EN reader, eventer in Area VII, and undergraduate researcher with the questionable distinction of having the last name “McHorse” (yes, really, I didn’t make it up, I promise). I need your help with my thesis research, and I think you will find it interesting!
Horse people put a lot of value into conformation, for good reason-—after all, the way the horse is put together can’t help but affect the way it moves and whether it stays sound. But we also know that plenty of other factors influence your horse’s performance, including training, temperament, and the sudden appearance of a horse-eating plastic bag in the dressage arena. So just how much does good conformation matter when you’re picking an eventer? And on that note…what exactly what is good conformation?
My mission is to find quantitative answers to these questions. A long, sloping shoulder is good? Okay, great! I want to know just how long and what angle of slope, and I want to know how predictive shoulder angle is of a horse’s success.
That brings us to my study: I’m comparing the relationships of the horse’s limb bones (shoulder, upper leg, cannon, pastern angle, pelvis angle, and all the rest) to its performance in recognized eventing competition. And this is where you can help!
Initial testing for this study just requires conformation photos of horses with at least 5 USEA-recognized competitions on record. I’m looking for horses of all levels, shapes, and sizes, from seasoned BN campaigners to Olympic veterans, ponies to giants, conformation class winners to individuals easily mistaken for a moose with a mane. Have a horse that fits the bill and want to take a few minutes for science? Send me a picture or two of your horse and its USEA competition name or number. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The most useful pictures are taken from around the horse’s midline, with the horse as close to square as possible.
For the next stage of data collection I’ll need to actually see horses, so expect to see me this summer painting dots on and photographing event horses in Areas VII and VI. Come say hi!