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Reining Horse Conformation Analysis: Part 4By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · December 23, 2010

Photo and Analysis Courtesy Lisa Coulter. See “Reining Horse Conformation Analysis” for the first part of this series.

This horse has the best topline of any of the horses evaluated thus far in the series. He is higher in the wither than the hip and looks agile.

The topline is the first thing my eye goes to on a horse, as a strong topline is the foundation for strength and ability, but you must consider that most stock-type reining horses will not develop their toplines until they are past the age of three. They will continue to go up and down in their wither and hip as they grow. You may not see the true topline until they are mature, so I can never fully evaluate a horse's topline as a young prospect.

He has a beautiful long graceful neck that ties in well.

He has massive joints and big bones, though he has long pasterns. His hocks appear to set out but it could be the angle of the picture. He also has a short, steep hip.

He is not as muscled in his gaskin and shoulder as other horses in this series. All degrees of muscling are found in reining horses, and I really have little preference between well- or slight-muscled horses. Sometimes a thick, well-muscled horse can be cumbersome; they often have the strength but lack the grace. Slight-muscled horses generally are lankier and therefore lack some strength from being long-coupled. If a horse is so muscle-bound in his chest and shoulders that he has trouble turning, then I consider that. If he is too slight in his hip, gaskin, and/or loin muscling that he lacks the strength to stop, then I consider that as well.

However, generally I like a horse to be medium-muscled with balance being the most important characteristic.

His head is pretty, and he has a flashy look with his color.

Lisa Coulter is the No. 1 ranked reining rider in FEI standings. She bases her training at a ranch in Pilot Point, Texas, as she travels back and forth between British Columbia and Texas doing business and competing. Look for future conformation analyses from Lisa and other Elite Riders sponsored by Kentucky Equine Research

Read the other entries in this series:

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