EN’s Young Horse Academy with Martin Douzant, Part One: Conformation and Presentation

Looking ahead to the winter off-season, it’s a good time to put in some work on the details of our horses’ training. For some of us, this may mean starting off with an exciting young project. Perhaps you’re finally getting to put in some real work with your homebred, or maybe you’ve just gotten a new horse off the track for restarting. Whatever your circumstances, we’re excited to present a new video series this winter, EN’s Young Horse Academy with Martin Douzant of The Frame Sport Horses.

In this video series, we’ll cover topics ranging from conformation to restarting a horse off the track, giving you some new tools to put into practice this winter and beyond. If you’re planning to do some competition in the Future Event Horse or Young Event Horse events next year, these videos will be helpful.

Martin also offers clinics, which focus heavily on young horse development and elements such as free-jumping. To learn more or to book a clinic, click here.

To kick things off this week, we’re taking a look at basic conformation as well as in-hand presentation.

Conformation for Event Horses

Martin uses some examples of the horses in his program when talking about conformation. Generally speaking, he says, “one of the most important things is that, at the end of the day, the horses for eventing are going to have to run. So the type of the horse is very important. They have to be pretty light and not too heavy.”

Martin speaks about what he looks for in event prospects in terms of conformation. You’ll be able to see much more detail and comparison in the video, but here are a couple of takeaways:

  • Depth of girth is important for breathing capacity – this is something you’ll often see in Thoroughbreds off the track
  • The thickness of the throatlatch is also something Martin takes into account – this will account for suppleness in the bridle and also breathing capacity

Another key takeaway from Martin’s notes on conformation is the positioning of the horse for a conformation photo.

Sellers and photographers, take note: these two images depict the same horse, yet in the photo on the left, Martin describes, the head is lower, making the horse appear more round, compact, and hunter-type. The second picture, on the other hand, repositions the head to be higher, creating a more uphill visual that shifts the balance more to the hind legs. Which photo would catch your eye if you were shopping for an event prospect?

In-Hand Presentation

During an in-hand presentation for Future and Young Event Horse competitions, a judge will first look at the horse standing still, then will observe the horse at the walk. Here are some thoughts on presentation from Martin:

  • Teach your horse to yield small steps and large steps in-hand to be able to re-place their legs for a more correct stance
  • Martin prefers the horses to be square, or slightly open in the front legs and open to the judge’s side with the hind legs
  • Walking away from the judge, straightness is key
  • On the long side, the walk should be big and flowing – similar to a free walk under saddle – with the ears level with or below the wither
  • The head must stay straight at all times

Have a question for Martin? Please send an email to [email protected] and we’ll address it in an upcoming article. This series is presented in collaboration with Mythic Landing Enterprises. Happy young horse-ing!