Structure in Detail

Subscribe to The American Quarter Horse Journal, Ranch Horse Journal or Performance Horse Journal and get the Structure in Detail e-book for FREE.

When you’re evaluating American Quarter Horse conformation, a horse’s overall balance ranks first in order of importance. But understanding the structural framework – bone, muscle and tendon – making up that overall balance is a must. The two complete each other. 

In Structure in Detail, equine conformation experts Dr. Jerry Black and AQHA judge Tim Finkenbinder show readers how to evaluate a horse’s structure.

While the Structure in Detail e-book focuses on conformation of the Quarter Horse, as Dr. Black says, “What we often do is evaluate characteristics that we’re excited about, and that might be color or type. There are things that are unique among different breeds and certainly among Quarter Horses we have conformational differences depending on discipline.

“But there are commonalities, and good conformation is good conformation.”

Order a Journal subscription and gain instant access to the Structure in Detail e-book: The American Quarter Horse Journal, Ranch Horse Journal or Performance Horse Journal

In this e-book, our two experts walk through specific parts of the horse, illustrating structural correctness and common abnormalities, such as: 

  • The ideal equine front limb
  • Over at the knee or back at the knee
  • Long, sloping pasterns or short, upright pasterns
  • Out at the knee or in at the knee
  • Bench kneed
  • Splints in horses
  • Toed-out horse, toed-in horse and horse that wings when he tracks
  • Camped out or standing under
  • Base wide or base narrow
  • Normal equine hind limb
  • Too steep or too long croup
  • Stifle joint angulation
  • Hock joints with too little angle or too much angle
  • Abnormalities to the hock joint, including bone spavins and bog spavins

Whether you want to be a more informed judge, breeder or owner, the goal of Structure in Detail is to add to your toolbox of resources in training yourself to evaluate horse conformation.

As Dr. Black suggests, one should consider two things when looking at the parts of a horse’s structural conformation: 

“I look for conformation that will promote soundness and durability. I ask, ‘How long is he going to stay sound doing what he does? Is he going to have a fulfilling career and is his conformation not going to hinder him? Or will he have pathological problems from the beginning?’ ”

Order a subscription to one of these magazines and gain immediate access to the Structure in Detail e-book: The American Quarter Horse Journal, Ranch Horse Journal or Performance Horse Journal.

About the Sources

Originally from central Illinois, Tim Finkenbinder has been training and fitting halter horses for more than 25 years and has multiple world champions and All American Quarter Horse Congress successes to his credit. He also serves on the World Conformation Horse Association executive committee and is the vice chair of its judges’ committee. He owns and operates Finkenbinder Ranch in Collinsville, Texas, and has one son, Trent.

A graduate of Colorado State University veterinary school, Dr. Jerry Black co-founded California’s Pioneer Equine Hospital, which he operated for more than 30 years. With wife Melinda, in 1995 he founded Valley Oak Ranch, a cutting and reining breeding farm. A past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Dr. Black serves as chairman of the board of trustees for the American Horse Council and previously completed a six-year term on the National Cutting Horse Association executive board. In 2010, he returned to CSU, where he is director of the Equine Reproduction Laboratory and the Equine Sciences Teaching and Research Center. Avid cutters, the Blacks have one son, Brandon.

Illustrator and veterinarian Dr. Robin Peterson pulls from her large and small animal veterinary experience to lend anatomical detail and correctness to the artistic beauty of her medical illustrations. Based in the Pacific Northwest, she is also in demand as a natural science illustrator and animal portraitist. Her website is www.fernwoodstudio.com.