The PAX Book

Page 1

Breeding Assisted Cross Program

The PAX book is created and published by : Groupe France Elevage 14, Place Paul German, 14700 Falaise - FRANCE Tel : OO33 231 401 988 The PAX Program is awarded by Hippolia Foundation and CIRALE


This booklet is not yet another book about the beauties and defects of horses. There are many such books, and the latest one, entitled “Le jugement en Concours d’Elevage” (in French, published by the national breeding associations and written by Michel Gaspard and Brice Elvezi) is excellent! This booklet will not tell you what the physical characteristics of a good jumper are: if you go to the Grand Prix paddocks, you will soon realize that from one good jumper to another, these physical characteristics vary!

The purpose of this book is to help the reader – whether he/she is an amateur or a professional – to observe and describe a stallion or a mare as objectively as possible: its static and non-static postures as well as the horse’s behavior when jumping and training. My experience of more than 50 years in the horse trade (including 45 years of breeding horses) has taught me that nothing is ever that simple: it only takes a few concrete examples to challenge the many claims of so-called “experts”.


I am convinced that there are very few morphological characteristics that are incompatible with intensive training and even fewer that will systematically guarantee top performance. It is the interaction between all the different factors which makes high performance more or less possible and predictable. As such, I recommend the following English book “Horse Anatomy for Performance.”

We must learn to look at the horse as a whole and try to understand how physical and behavioral characteristics influence performance. From this more or less extensive understanding, the rider will infer training programs and the farmer cross-breeding programs (and I will never emphasize enough how important it is for the rider and breeder to communicate on this subject). Of course, there is a high degree of uncertainty concerning the horse’s success and luck is often an important factor. Kraque Boom became a European champion thanks to number of things: the judicious choices and working methods of her breeder, the circumstances that led her to Kevin Staut’s stables, the incredible patience, attentive work and deep understanding between the horse and team members – all of which enabled her extraordinary performance in Windsor 2009–, but also thanks to the fault committed by Okidoki on the final round! However, as one of the members of our board of directors once put it: “It’s not because the final outcome is uncertain that you should allow yourself to do a sloppy job along the way!” PAX means “Assistance Programme for Cross-breeding” (in French “Programme d’Aide au Croisement”). Its purpose is to guide the breeder in his choices of stallions: by inviting him to describe as accurately and completely as possible his or her mares, and by choosing the features that you want to change in the next generation, that is to say in the foal. The description phase focuses on morphology, locomotion and the spontaneous way the horse jumps and his breeding and work behavior. This phase cannot be dealt with in one day; the observation should begin early, at a young age, to watch the foal’s behavior within the herd and it should continue until the horse is trained and ridden. It is advisable to wait until the horse has reached its adult size before coming to any conclusions concerning the horse’s morphology and locomotion. Before determining any of the corresponding parameters, it is recommended to have several practice, workout and jumping sessions. Your observations may change over a period of time, especially if the mare transmits to her offspring characteristics that are different from her own (this can be the case, for example, with size).


The reflection phase implies having a specific production objective in mind: the desired characteristics in a foal will differ depending on whether this foal is to be sold at the age of three or trained in-house. You cannot change a full set of characteristics in one go (except if you’re willing to change the mare!) And the PAX program offers the breeder the possibility of choosing up to five criteria he wants to change first. These priority criteria will be taken into account in the selection of stallions carried out by the PAX program. Our choice of 21 locomotion, jumping and behavior criteria was fairly easy to establish. However, we had to restrict the number of our morphological criteria in order to keep the observation of the horse relatively simple and to produce realistic proposals. We selected 23 criteria. Some experts will bemoan the absence of certain features or the simplification of others (mainly around the leg…). We had to make choices, in collaboration with the board of the GFE, and Pr. Denoix the CIRALE; we will probably improve our range of criteria over time. The existing criteria have proven useful as they highlight the compatibilities between our stallions and mares, according to the objectives of the breeder! We based our stallion ratings on the physical characteristics they had transmitted to their offspring when their offspring were numerous enough for these observations to be significant, and we based the ratings on the stallions’ own characteristics when the number of their descendants was not significant. These ratings are based on the advice of experts, starting with the administrators of the GFE, but also veterinarians, competition judges in France and abroad. We currently have fifty stallions, who are amongst the best, judging from their progeny – very promising young horses; they do not all have the same characteristics and are not suitable for all mares. It would be as pretentious of us to give advice to farmers, without seeing their mares, as it is risky for them to rely on formulas and illustrated samples without going further in the characterization of the horses they are about to breed. The ambition of the PAX program is to help rationalize their choices as much as possible! The characteristics of the mare can be evaluated “by the unaided eye” and also by meticulously following the advice given in this guide.


It is not necessary for all the criteria to be measured in order to use PAX. It is complicated and sometimes impossible to do so, for example in the case of mares who have never taken part in competitions. The important thing for the program to work effectively is to use reliable information only. The drawings and illustrations provided in this book can help hesitant farmers attribute grades as objectively as possible. When in doubt on a test, it is best not to put anything at all and this criterion will be “neutralized” in the PAX reasoning. As soon as a minimum of 5 criteria are “entered”, the program can run. In the “tips” provided at the end of this book, it is recommended to run the PAX several times and to gradually increase the number of criteria ... PAX can be used to choose a stallion for a mare, but also, in the case of farmers wanting to use a specific stallion, to determine which of his mares best suits him. Our website offers many photos and videos to help the farmer to “grade” the mare. To this same end, many of the images are copied on the DVD included with this book. This booklet gives an overview of how to evaluate the observed characteristics and, for each characteristics, it briefly reminds us of their influence on the final result. Finally, it is to be noted that PAX is only one tool among many. It does not take into account, in the breeding choice, certain elements such the most important factor of the mixing of blood streams! The breeder’s work requires rigor and humility and it should be enjoyed. This is the belief that has led us to create this little book. It reveals the GFE’s desire to openly support farmers in order to improve efficiency. It is with a great deal of pleasure, professionalism, and in all modesty that we would now like to offer you our PAX program!



Part I


Part II

gaits Part III


Part IV


Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter

1. Geometry 2. Head 3. Neck 4. Shoulder 5. Whiters 6. Upper line 7. Croup 8. Stand Fore legs conformation 9. Stand Hind legs conformation 10. Fetlocks suspension 11. Feet 12. Bones & joints 13. Size 14. Lines

p p p p p p p p p p p p p p

9 15 19 25 31 35 39 43 47 51 55 57 61 63

Chapter 15. Walk Chapter 16. Trot Chapter 17. Galop

p 67 p 69 p 71

Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter

p p p p p p

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

Approach Landing Fore technique Hind technique Elasticity Scope

Chapter 24. Blood Chapter 25. At stud Chapter 26. At work

75 77 79 81 83 85

p 89 p 91 p 93

Part I Figure

Part I



Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter

1. Geometry 2. Head 3. Neck 4. Shoulder 5. Whiters 6. Upper line 7. Croup 8. Stand Fore legs conformation 9. Stand Hind legs conformation 10. Fetlocks Suspension 11. Feet 12. Bones & joints 13. Size 14. Lines

Chapitre1.1. Chapter

La géométrie Geometry

The geometric shape of the silhouette is assessed by stopping the horse balanced on level ground, with fore canon bones vertically positioned. Let’s imagine two vertical lines (Perpendicular to the ground) the first through the tip of the shoulder and the second by the hock when the hind canon bone is vertical. The first horizontal line is the ground and the second will close the quadrilateral and is tangential to the top of the shoulder and the top of the croup (sacroiliac joint).



The shape obtained is usually a more or less elongated rectangle. Its height is measured at the withers and its length from the tip of the shoulder and up along the side directly above the hock when the hind cannon bone is vertical (for a hock «in place», it corresponds roughly to the point of buttock). If the horse has hocks far behind, it has very prominent withers or very embedded, the rectangle may be slightly distorted. The slope of the tangent line at the shoulder and the top of the croup will help to determine if the horse is uphill or downhill.

Figure 1


Part I Figure Figure 2

If withers height is larger than the size at the top of the rump, the figure is uphill. If it is the opposite, it is downhill. The length / height of the quadrilateral will determine if the shape is more «square» or «rectangular».

Characterization If the length / height ratio is below 0.96, we speak of a «square» shape (Fig. 1) until 1.03, it will be «squarish» will become «somewhat rectangular» 1.04 to 1.10 and «rectangular» (fig.2) beyond 1.10. In dogs, the Bulldog is «square» and the dachshund «rectangular». If withers height is higher by more than 3 cm than the height at the top of the croup, the figure is uphill (Figure 3). Will become more or less uphill from 0 to 3 cm, more or less downhill if the top of the croup is greater than 0 to 3 cm than the withers and downhill beyond a 3 cm difference. Our Bulldog is «uphill» and the greyhound is «downhill».


The square or rectangular figure may be approximately evaluated at six to nine months after birth, and more precisely from the age of three years. The up or downhill side needs to wait for growth and can scale up

Chapitre 1.

Figure 3


La géométrie

or down to 5 or 6 years.

Meaning All of the skeletal and muscular chains ranging from elbow through the tip of the shoulder, withers, rump, and croup to the stifle are forming “bows” involved in the vertical and horizontal detent of the horse. The shape of these bows plays a role in the magnitude of the steps (horizontal detent) and the ability to propel himself upward (vertical jump). At equal muscle tone and flexibility, longer this set of bows will be, the more horizontal and vertical leap will be powerful. Like a bow, the more it will be bent, it will be less powerful but least it will be bent, the harder it is to bend. The more it will have its center of gravity backwards (horse uphill), the more it will help push up, but asking more effort to the hindquarters. Conversely, the more it will have a front center of gravity (horse downhill), the more it will ease the effort of the hindquarters, demanding more shoulders effort (the «kick») and lowering the hips to provide the vertical thrust.


Part I Figure

In somewhat caricatured, we can say that a horse rather square and in fact uphill will have a less delicate balance to manage, especially for an amateur rider than a horse made a long downhill. However, this last one will have a better disposition than the first with long strides and a great trajectory, useful for top riders.

Discussion As so often in this book, it must be emphasized that the functional significance of a morphological feature is in interaction with other features. It is almost impossible to predict the jumping ability by simply looking at the silhouette. A long silhouette is a «plus» for flexible horse and tonic and becomes a disadvantage if he is stiff! An uphill horse is an advantage if it has a powerful hindquarters and disadvantage otherwise! We see that the work will play a key role in the functionality of the silhouette. We do not work the same way a strongly rectangular horse and an extremely square horse, or an uphill horse like a downhill horse. Apart from the amount of muscle and tone, the flexibility and the natural balance of gaits, the shape and size of the shoulder and croup and jumping technique are the parameters that interfere the most with the silhouette to produce expected results. Note that all figures are found on the Grand prix paddock. From the «square» Jappeloup to the «horizontal» Touch Of Class and a Milton actually uphill to a rather downhill Electra.


Chapitre 1. Geometry: Square - Rectangular

->Carré Square A A-> Length/Height: < 0,96 Longueur / Hauteur: 0,94


Géometrie: Carré - Rectangle La géométrie

->Plutôt RatherCarré Square B B-> Length/Height: 0,961to 1,03 Longueur / Hauteur:

© Pixels Events

->Plutôt RatherRectangle Rectangular CC-> Length/Height: 1,031,05 to 1,10 Longueur / Hauteur:

D -> Rectangular D -> Rectangle Length/Height: > 1,10 Longueur / Hauteur:1,10


Part I Figure

A C -> Descendante Plutôt Montante

Geometry : Uphill - Downhill

© Pixels Events

A -> Uphill Descendante B D -> Plutôt Montante

Géometrie: Descendante - Montante

-> Descendante RatherMontante Uphill CB-> Plutôt A

© Pixels Events

B DC-> Montante -> Plutôt RatherDescendante Downhill

Géometrie: Descendante - Montante

CD-> Plutôt Montante A -> Descendante Downhill


Chapitre21. Chapter

La géométrie Head Observation we propose here to evaluate the head in terms of elegance, that’s totally subjective way. The shape and size of the bridge of nose and the jaw determine the volume and geometry of the head. The size and the introduction of ears, eyes, mouth and nostrils contribute to make more or less smooth, more or less expressive... The head rises of face and profile (the right and the left!). It is interesting to consider when the horse is resting in its box but also outdoors when his attention is attracted by a part of its environment.



Characterization To the extent that this assessment is matter of taste, it is unrealistic to propose a method of characterization. Arab Arabian breeders like the elk nosed heads, triangular, with small ears and protruding eyes. Lusitanians breeders like larger heads with roman nose. If a breeder attaches importance to the head for the commercialization, it must evaluate it according to the tastes of its customers. If he thinks that the observation of the head has a functional significance (it is my point of view!) and that he favors the final use, its criteria for the assessment of a «beautiful head» leave the place for a «good head».

Meaning The first relevant element that comes to mind speaking of head is commercial: the head is one of the first things observed by a potential buyer on a horse. It triggers an impression: if it is favorable, it will hope that the other qualifications reinforce this impression and he will considers the horse with a bit of indulgence. Otherwise, the horse must demonstrate by its other qualities that he deserves some interest despite this common head. It would be simplistic to stick to this aspect of things because from the mouth to the neck, the head has important functional elements: an excessive weight of the head do not help neck lever movements.


Part Part II Figure Figure

Too small mouth does not facilitate comfortable installation of the bit on the bars of the lower jaw. The size of the nostrils and the spacing of the Mandibles are decisive for the entry of air into the lungs... The bone connection between the head and neck, play a role in the bending of the head, the acceptance of instructions by the hand of the rider and the right taking of the bit. Small ears comes often with anxious horses, as well as the sunken eyes in their orbits, perhaps because they complicate the taking of information by the horse in its environment. The look is a little mirror of temperament, the serenity or anxiety, submission... the horses do not speak, but their eyes often speaks for them! (fig.4).

Discussion Finally, in the head, the more important it is the brain inside! It is not visible and it is only in horse training action that its influence can be measured on several behavioral parameters. From JOVIS DE RAVEL to KHADIDJA, DARCO to SANDRO and, in our catalogue, KANNAN to CONTENDRO I, all kinds of heads are compatible with the talent.

Figure 4

Failing to provide a clear link between the head and the performance, we assessed our stallions as such on the simple commercial aesthetic. Breeders who attach little importance to this criterion could not use it in the characterization of their Mare, and it will be unchecked in the analysis. Those who, on the contrary, attach great importance will be able to set it as a priority and taking into account will be strengthened!


Chapitre 1. Head: Common Tête Elegant : Chic - -Commune

La géométrie B -> Rather Elegant B -> Plutôt Chic


A -> Elegant A -> Chic

© Pixels Events

CC -> Plutôt Commune -> Rather Common

DD -> Commune -> Common


Part I Figure

Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7


Chapitre31. Chapter

Observation In the PAX program, the neck is rated in its length and orientation. If the length is very easy to measure objectively, it is not quite the same for orientation.


La géométrie Neck

The good observation of the natural head position is when the horse is at a standstill, balanced and awakening, and that it is subject to no external stimulus (tissue, whip or bit of plastic at the end of the whip...). The natural head position can be observed also when the horse is walking, between the lowest and highest position. The cervical spine, which is decisive to define the orientation of the neck (and its length) is composed of 7 vertebrae which begin in the neck by the atlas and axis. Concave up to the 3rd or 4th vertebra, cervical spine becomes straight or slightly convex to the 7th vertebra to join chest, between the shoulder blades, about a hand above the tip of the shoulder (see the judgment in competition of livestock and fig.5). The straight line joining the base of the 7th cervical vertebra at the base of the atlas forms with the horizontal an angle that will be used to determine the orientation of the neck (fig.6). The length of this segment will be used to determine its size in relation to the rest of the body. Several methods of evaluation of the length of the neck may be offered. We have chosen to keep back the comparison with the length of the thoracolumbar spine, i.e. of the «dorsal segment» that goes from the top of the withers to the croup top (sacroiliac joint) (fig.7)


Part I Figure

Characterization The objective measurement can be done using a folding ruler and a protractor. The horse is at a standstill, with the front canon bones vertical. The dimension is measured between the base of the 7th cervical vertebra (an open hand above the tip of the shoulder in the direction of the withers) and neck (the atlas base) and compared, with the distance between the top of the withers to the top of the Croup (sacroiliac junction). If the length of the neck is greater than 7 cm to the length of the back, the neck will be so-called «long». Between 7 cm and 0 cm, it will be «rather long». It will be «rather short» If the first distance is less of the second of less than 7 cm. It will be «short» if the length of the neck is shorter than the dorsal segment of more than 7 cm. It will be rated «horizontal» if the angle between the axis of the neck and the horizontal is less than 45 ° and «rather horizontal» from 45 to 50 °, «rather vertical» 50 ° to 55 ° and «vertical» if it is above 55 °.

Meaning The neck plays a role of balance in stretching and in lowering at the time of the bascule of the horse above the fence and rising at the time of landing and the recovery of balance. It is driven by a series of muscles which ensure this role of lever. The lowering of the neck in the daily training allows elevation of the back and plays an important role in the construction of an appropriate musculature. Its contraction or his relaxation contributes to complicate or facilitate the interaction between the hand of the rider and the horse’s mouth. Its lateral flexibility is important in the bodybuilding of the back and shoulders and the maintenance of a proper balance on a jumping course. A long well used neck is an asset in his role as beam but it can become a disability if it is rigid and compromises the dialogue with the horse’s mouth. Conversely a short neck will limit its effectiveness to optimize the trajectory of the jump but less ‘ pollute’ the dialogue with the mouth.


Chapitre An upward neckline amplifies1. the role of beam if it is well used but will produce the opposite effect if the rider does not get the horse stretching it over the fences and it will then compromise the proper functioning of the back.

La géométrie

Discussion Colonel DESROCHES, Emeritus rider and an admirer of the anglo-arabes said about the neck, that the way in which the horse uses, it is more important than its length or orientation. We must respect the opinion of this horseman but, so far, avoid extremes.


A downward, neck relieves the back muscles but makes it harder for the rider to get the balance recovery of the horse.

In terms of length, the best is the enemy of good, and in terms of orientation, the median area is preferred. We can see again how the quality of a neckline can be rated regarding its interaction with the other parameters of the morphology and locomotion. A short and horizontal neck makes it very difficult to the correction of the natural balance, especially for horses with a short back, but it becomes less problematic for horses with a good mouth and a good balance. A long and slightly vertical neck makes it difficult to manage the balance of the horse with a long and plunging back, but it can, if the rider gets the horse use it properly, compensate for the disadvantages of a short and rigid back. Other essential interactions between the neck and the other characteristics relate to the form and use of shoulder, the elasticity of the jump and the balance recovery at landing. Given the important role of the neck and the dangers of the extreme positions, it seems reasonable to recommend to seek to breed horses «in the Middle» with regard to the length and orientation of the neck. But, not to discourage anyone, think of Baloubet du Rouet and its vertical neck, Uriel offspings and their short necklines of Hickstead and his rather horizontal neckline and agree that again, nothing is absolutely crippling.


Part I Figure

Neck length: Short - Long

Longueur d’encolure: Courte - Longue

->Courte Short A A->

->Plutôt RatherCourte Short B B->

->Plutôt RatherLongue Long C C->


© Pixels Events

->Longue Long DD->

Neck orientation: Horizontal - Vertical

Orientation d’encolure: Horizontale - Verticale


Horizontal AA ->->Horizontale: α < 45° α < 45°

RatherHorizontale: Horizontal B B->->Plutôt 45° < α< 45°< α 50° <50°

© Pixels Events

RatherVerticale: Vertical C C->->Plutôt 50° < α< 50°< α 55° <55°

Vertical D D->->Verticale: 55° α >>55°


Figure 8

Figure 9


Part Part II Figure Figure

Chapitre4.1. Chapter

Observation The shoulder consists of the sequence of the blade bone (scapula) and arm (humerus), which join at the «tip of the shoulder’: the glen humeral joint. The third point of reference of the shoulder triangle is the elbow corresponding to the end of the ulna (olecranon). The slope of the shoulder is measured by the angle with the vertical axis of the scapula that is the line that goes from the top of the withers to the tip of the shoulder. This inclination is observed with a horse staying on its 4 members, on flat ground and with the front canon bones vertical (fig.8).


La géométrie Shoulder

The size of the shoulder is evaluated, in the same position, by measuring the surface of the triangle having as vertices, the front tip of the scapula, which is guessed below and in front of the Withers, the tip of the shoulder and the tip of the elbow (fig. 9) and comparing it to the surface of the total figure (fig.10). The surface of the total figure is the surface of the quadrangle which was used to assess the geometry (chap. 1). It is equal to the length of the point of the shoulder to the point of the buttock multiplied by the height (average between height at the withers height and the height of the top of the croup).

Characterization The shoulder will be so-called «oblique» If the angle between the axis of the scapula and the vertical is equal or higher than 40 °, «rather oblique» between 35 and 40 °, «rather vertical» between 30 and 35 ° and «vertical» if the angle is less than 30 °. This can be done with a compass of Carpenter spotting the two axes, or with two pieces of adhesive tape and a protractor. With a folding ruler, one can measure the three sides of the triangle that form the shoulder and relates its surface to that of the quadrangle that forms the silhouette. This assessment can be done visually, but also precisely by calculating this ratio.


Part I Figure

A ratio of more than 4.6% between these surfaces will characterize a «great» shoulder and it will be «rather large» between 4.2 and 4.6% «rather small» between 3.8 and 4.2% and «small» below 3.8%. For example, for a horse that is 1 m 70 at the withers and 1 m 68 at the top of the Croup and whose length (tip of the shoulder, point of the buttock) is 1 m 75, the shoulder will be «small» below 1183 cm² and «great» beyond 1419 cm².

Figure 10

Meaning It is generally accepted, that an inclined shoulder better predisposes to the natural aptitude to the jump as a straight shoulder. Even though this rule exceptions (Deister, Razzia du Poncel...), it can be considered. The slope of the shoulder will facilitate the movement towards the front of the scapulohumeral join when jumping.


The angle formed at this joint by the shoulder blade and the arm is generally included between 90 and 100 °. Higher it is and the more this

We therefore think that a large, inclined with a rather open front corner shoulder is an advantage. The limit of this reasoning is that the larger is the shoulder, the higher is the weight of the front end and the more is increased the risk of balance issues.


angle is open, the more the arm will be vertical. By closing over the jump, this joint plays an important role in the passage of the fore hand. The longer are this bones, the more effective and powerful the lever arm will be (at equal muscle tone). Unlike humans, the horse has no collarbones connecting the shoulder blades and chest and forelimbs are connected to the trunk by muscles. One may think that the size of the shoulder is a guarantee of solidity of this link, which is particularly important at the time of take-off for jumping.

Discussion It is still a matter of interaction: a developed shoulder is a quality for a jumper up to a point. The shoulders of the quarter-horses, hyper developed muscles due to what they are told, are not compatible with the high jump. Similarly, if the distance between the tips of the shoulders (chest width) was a power token for draft horses, it can be a disadvantage if it brings too much weight on the front-hand. In this matter, a thin and toned shoulder musculature is preferable to a too thick musculature. The quality is better than quantity. It is at work and interacting with other criteria that appreciates the quality of the shoulder. Its level of looseness, that is how the tip of the shoulder comes forward, in particular at walk and canter, can compensate an excessive verticality. The form, the flexibility and the strength of the back may also interact positively or negatively. The downhill silhouette can reinforce the perverse effects of a too large shoulder. An uphill horse is with a good hindquarters may more easily offset the disadvantages of a small shoulder. Between the small shoulder of Landgraf offsprings and the powerful shoulder of the heirs of Ibrahim, this is the breeder own decision to appreciate and choose...


Part I Figure

Shoulder size: Small - Large

épaule taille: Petite - Grande

->Petite Small AA->

-> Plutôt RatherPetite Small BB->

-> Plutôt RatherGrande Large CC->


© Pixels Events

-> Grande Large DD->

épaule orientation: Verticale - Oblique

Shoulder orientation: Vertical - Oblique

B -> Plutôt Verticale

C ->APlutôt Oblique -> Vertical

B -> Vertical D Rather -> Oblique

C -> Rather Oblique

D -> Oblique

© Pixels Events


A -> Verticale


Figure 11


Part I Figure

Chapitre5.1. Chapter

Observation The withers is formed by the 9 first thoracic vertebrae spinous, corresponding to the 9 pairs of ribs attached to the sternum. The ribs form the non-deformable part of the rib cage (fig.11).


La géométrie Withers

Its form is visually assessed by his side more or less salient and more or less prolonged. It starts at the top of the scapula and ends at the apex of the 9th dorsal vertebra at an angle more or less opened with the line of the back.

Characterization We propose a method of assessment, resulting in an appreciation ranging from «short» to «extended», by measuring the distance from the top (4th backbone) at its base (9th backbone) (fig.11). It will be «short» if this distance is less than 12 cm. It will be «rather short» between 12 and 17 cm, «rather long» between 18-22 cm and «extended» beyond 22 cm. This measure has to be modulated by the General visual assessment, depending on the shape and size of the shoulder and the place of the top of the withers compared to the level of the elbow.

Meaning One of the features of the withers is to determine the positioning of the saddle. It is desirable that the position of the rider in the saddle does not move too forward or backwards the center of gravity of the horse which would disrupt its natural balance. This is to better meet this balance that racing jockeys ride with so short Stirrups!


Part I Figure

Furthermore, in stretching forward when neck goes down, the spinous forming Withers contribute to lift the back and relieve the back muscles. The more prominent is the withers, the more this leverage effect will be effective. A long and prominent Withers will be preferable to a withers short and embedded, both to promote the natural balance of the rider horse couple and the work of the rider in the mobilization of the horse’s back. The top of the withers is in principle placed directly above the tip of the elbow. Too ‘forward’ or too ‘backward’ to this axis, will compromise the ideal location of the saddle. The musculature of the withers will play a role in his elevation over the jump and the mechanism of constraints absorption at landing. All things being equal, a naturally muscular Withers is preferable.

Discussion On this subject, this is again a matter of interactions: characteristics that can compensate for a withers too short or embedded are the shape and the dimensions of the back and the natural balance of the gaits. It will be easier to compensate for the disadvantages of a short withers with a long, flexible, rather right back, and with a natural balance linked among other things to a good range of motion of the shoulder. At the other extreme, a horse with a very long withers and a rather short back do «saddle poorly» and load the hindquarters with the weight of the rider; This can affect the quality of the propulsion and the articulation of the back in movement. If the two extremes are to be avoided, however it will be preferable to search a Withers well erupted, muscular and sufficiently long to ensure proper positioning of the saddle over the center of gravity of the horse.


->Court Short A A-> d d< < 1212cm cm


Chapitre 1. Short - Long Withers: Garrot: Court - Prolongé La géométrie

->Plutôt RatherCourt Short B B-> 12 cm < d<<d 17 cm 12cm < 17cm

© Pixels Events

->Plutôt RatherProlongé Long CC-> 17 cm < d cm 18cm <<d 22 < 22cm

->Prolongé Long DD-> d >d22 cm > 22cm


Part I Figure

Figure 12

Figure 13


Chapitre6.1. Chapter

Observation It corresponds to the suite and the end of the dorsal spine from the 9th to the 18th vertebra and to the lumbar spine to the sacroiliac joint, which locates at the tip of the rump.

Upper line

La géométrie Upper line

This part of the spine is covered inter alia by the Back strap muscle which plays an essential role in the curvature, elevation and lowering of the back. The back is judged in its orientation, its length and its width, the horse being stationary, in balance with a neckline in a natural position. The shape of the back is the line that goes from the insertion of the sacrum (tip of the rump) at the base of the withers. Its width is assessed by looking at the horse from the front and from behind.

Characterization The length of the segment that goes from the sacrum to the Withers, or his inclination, which were assessed in the silhouette will not be measured, but its curvature and width. The curvature of this segment will determine if the back is «straight» or «hollow» (fig. 12 and 13). This evaluation is done visualy, it must take into account the age of the horse and its state of work. Aging and loosing muscles, the back is hollow, but during growth, it can also adopt a hollow shape which will lessen in adulthood. The back width is assessed with the size of the plate that can be hold on in a stable equilibrium, at the level of the rear of the saddle. It is «narrow» if it is a saucer and «broad» if it is a dish! This width may evolve to work but it is also related to the conformation of the transverse processes of the thoracolumbar spine on which fits the back musculature.


Part I Figure

Meaning The back provides the link between the front and the hindquarters and it supports the weight of the rider. As the boom of the jumper, he will determine the power of the jump and the shape of the path. As the boom of the jumper, the longer it is the more efficient it is, but harder to use effectively it is. As the boom of the jumper, if it is too flexible, it loses power and if it is too stiff, it requires too much effort for the rest of the body to fold. The width of the back contributes to its power but antagonizes its flexibility. If it is too hollow, it will be more difficult to raise and fold to get a good vertical propulsion but it will facilitate the amplitude of the stride. If it is too rigid and straight, it will be difficult to fold. The back training is an essential element of the role of the rider to prepare the horse to be successful. Sharing with the rider his feeling about the flexibility, strength and the natural mobility of the back is an important element for the breeder to assess this aspect of the natural predisposition of a Mare to produce a jumper.

Discussion It is matter of choice: A good balance between flexibility, power and scope is a must. It is also a matter of temperament at work and ability of the horse to accept and remember working with ÂŤthe back in placeÂť. A slightly downhill back, if it is wide and flexible, is compatible with the high level performance, but it is difficult work properly. A somewhat rigid and right back is easier to use in the right direction, but it does not develop the same trajectory.


C -> Creuse Plutôt Droite A

Chapitre 1. Straight - Hollow Upper line:

© Pixels Events

-> Plutôt Straight D Droite BA-> Creuse

Ligne de dessus: Creuse - Droite

Upper line

La géométrie

-> Creuse RatherDroite Straight CB-> Plutôt A

© Pixels Events

C -> Rather Hollow D -> Plutôt Droite Creuse B

Ligne de dessus: Creuse - Droite

-> Creuse HollowDroite CD-> Plutôt A


Part I Figure

Figure 14

Figure 15

Figure 16


Chapitre7.1. Chapter

La géométrie Croup

Like other features, the rump was observed with a horse at rest on a horizontal surface, front canon bones being vertical. The shape and length of the croup correspond to the position and size of the pelvic bone. They are assessed from the tip of the hip and up to the point of the buttock. The inclination of the Croup is measured by the angle between this line and the horizontal. It can be assessed with a compass of Carpenter or with adhesive tape and a protractor, as the shoulder. Its length is measured with a folding ruler.



Characterization The croup will be so-called «horizontal» If the angle that form the axis of the iliac bone with the horizontal (fig. 14) is below 21 ° (fig.15), «rather horizontal» between 21 and 27 °, «rather oblique» between 27 and 33 ° and «oblique» from 33 ° (fig.16). We consider that it is «long» if the length of the basin is greater than 35% of the height of the horse at the top of the croup, «rather long» between 35% and 31%; «Rather short» between 31% and 27% and «short» if the length of the basin is less than 27% of the height at the top of the Croup.

Meaning The rump is a set of levers operated by the muscles of the hindquarters. According to their insertion points, they will pull back the stifle and contribute to vertical propulsion, lower hip, bring the pelvis forward and contribute to hind legs engagement, round the dorso-lumbar region and contribute to horizontal propulsion. It is a mechanism that is well explained in the treaties of Anatomy and whose complexity exceeds the ambitions of this guide, but you should remember several points.


Part I Figure

The longer is the croup, the more the femur will be and more efficient the lever action will be at equal muscle tone. The more inclined is the croup, the more the angle with the femur is open and less effective is the lever action for vertical propulsion. More it is horizontal and less the levers are effective to enable the hind legs engagement. It is generally assumed that a rump long and inclined between 25 and 35 ° is desirable. Furthermore, the more the stifle joint will be forward of the line extending from the point of the hip to the point of the hock, the more the lever will be effective for vertical propulsion.

Discussion Morphological diversity of the croups observed in high-level performers is very important because of the very large interactions between this part of the body and other features of morphology and locomotion. Disadvantages of a croup too inclined will be amplified by hocks behind the point of the buttock when the canon bone is vertical («standing on the rear») but instead offset by a hock at the right place with a good natural hind legs engagement. Disadvantages of a flat Croup can be corrected by a flexible back and a low position of the tip of the hip that facilitates the deployment of the back. Disadvantages of a short rump can be compensated by the tonus of the muscles that make it work. A long Croup requires a powerful and toned muscles to fully play its role of lever. The rump of a horse must have «the assets of its ambitions», i.e. a muscles adapted to the lever arm and the efforts required. There again, the work of the rider will play an essential role for developing the efficiency and tonicity of the natural muscles. Behind the complexity of the interactions of the functioning of the hindquarters, a long, angled, between 25° and 35°, croup, coupled to long femur and tibia are favorable to the quality of the vertical and horizontal propulsion.


Croupe longueur: Courte - Longue Chapitre 1. Croup length: Short - Long

B -> Plutôt Courte La géométrie

© Pixels Events


A -> Courte

C -> APlutôt Longue -> Short

Longue BD ->-> Rather Short

C -> Rather Long

D -> Long


Part I Figure © Pixels Events

Crouporientation: orientation: Horizontal - Oblique Croupe Horizontale - Oblique


A -> Horizontale

B -> Plutôt Horizontale

A -> Horizontal C -> Plutôt Oblique

B ->DRather Horizontal -> Oblique

C -> Rather Oblique

D -> Oblique

Fore legs conformation La géométrie

Observation Profile, review is done at the stand-still, the canon bones being vertical. The alignment of the canon bone from the front of the knee and the arm (metacarpal main-carp-radius) is evaluated.

Fore legs conformation

Chapitre Chapitre 8. 1.

Characterization From the side, it will be hollow if the front of the Carpus forms an acute angle with the axes of the canon bone and the arm, in place if it is a flat angle and “bucked knee” if it is an obtuse angle.

Meaning The forelimb is requested at the time of take-off; it should then bend to allow the forehand to cross over the fence. It is then hardly involved at landing. It supports the entire weight of the body and has to immediately participate in the balance recovery for the next effort. The forelimb, because of the supported constraints, is the seat of many locomotor pathologies that affect or impede athletic performance. It is commonly admitted that these pathologies are on average fewer and less acute in horses with good legs and feet. From the side, the alignment of the canon bone with the arm will be sought, and a horse slightly bucked-kneed will be preferred to an hollow knee


Part I Figure

Discussion If the need for good legs and feet is unquestionable and the impact on health and sporting longevity of bad legs and feet is obvious, the genetic predictability of these defects is uncertain. Orthopedics care of the young foal, made considerable improvement under the pressure of race horses breeders, and between friction, surgical procedures, shock waves and farriery, there are many dramatic corrections performed in the first months of life of a foal. It is very important to emphasize how farriery is an essential part of the management of the horse athlete To use mares with good legs and feet and breed them with similar sires is obviously preferable. It is also useful to have a contact directory including skilled vet and black smith, nothing is lost for a ÂŤcrookedÂť foal if it is properly managed.


© Pixels Events

A -> Creux >

La géométrie

B -> Plutôt Creux )

C -> A Plutôt Brassicourts ( -> Hollow «>»

B -> D Slightly drown/hollow -> Brassicourts < «)»

C -> In Place «(»

D -> Bucked knees «<»

Fore legs conformation

Chapitre 1. Front legs: Hollow - Bucked knees Aplombs Antérieurs: Creux - Brassicourts


Part I Figure

Hind legs conformation La géométrie

Observation The hind legs conformation is evaluated standstill and moving horse from the side and the back. From the side, review is done at standstill, the canon bone being vertical. The alignment between the centerline of the canon bone and the tip of the croup as well as the angle formed between the axis of the canon bone (i.e. vertical if it is well placed) and axis of the thigh is assessed. This last observation allows to measure the opening of the hock. It is interesting to observe the functioning of hind-limb from the side at the three gaits.

hind legs conformation

Chapter Chapitre 9. 1.

Characterization In profile the hock is considered as ‘far’ if the vertical cannon bone line passes to the back of the tip of the buttock and «in place» if it is tangent or passes to the front of the point of the buttock. The hock is considered as “cranked” if the angle between the vertical canon bone and the axis of the thigh is lower than 140 ° and more and more «straight» as and as it approaches the 170 °.

Meaning The hind limb is also subject to significant constraints. The horse is, in principle, rather an animal ‘propulsion powered’ and hind limbs are subject to the constraints of the boost at every Stride of the three gaits and mainly at the time of the boost in the phase of take-off of the jump. The correctness of the hind legs and feet allows a better distribution of the stresses between all the joints.


Part I Figure

In profile, the form of the hock has to be connected to its mode of operation. Boost climb, useful to the three gaits and the takeoff of the jump, is even stronger that Hock is going under the body of the horse at the time of maximum support. If this support, and therefore the effort continues when the hock passes behind the buttock, the back is getting hollow and the boost becomes horizontal so ineffective and even counterproductive. The hock’s width at its base and the strength of its attachment to the thigh, are guarantee of strength and efficiency of its role as shock absorber in hind limb stress. An angled hock must be accompanied by an impeccable natural engagement to not become an obstacle to the work. A rather straight hock will naturally promote the engagement and the vertical boost. However, because it will bear more constraints and will play a lowered role of shock absorber at boost time, it will increase the risk of disease of the distal portion of the limb (lower end). It is important to appreciate the correctness of the hind limb in terms of efficiency and therefore to observe the functioning of the limb to the three gaits.

Discussion As with the forelimb, medicine and farriery can contribute to correct certain defects of the legs and feet in the newborn foal, but also throughout his life. Even more than for the forelimb, the work of the rider will be essential to enable the horse to better use its hind limbs with the the conformation he got form Mother Nature. In terms of efficiency, a preference for the profile may be granted, rather straight Shanks, subject to constraints supplement to which it submits is not compounded by a short and rigid back. The interactions are many and there again, dialogue between the breeder and the jumper is essential to define what is most desirable in individual cases.


© Pixels Events

A -> Coudés

B -> Plutôt Coudés

CA-> Droits -> Plutôt Cranked «>»

B -> D Rather Cranked -> Droits

C -> Rather Straight

D -> Straight «I»

hind legs conformation

Hindpostérieurs: legs: Cranked - Straight Aplombs Coudés - Droits


fetlocks Suspension Observation The fetlock is at the junction of the canon bone and the pastern. It includes the sesamoid bone that articulates with the first phalanx at its base and the main metacarpal (canon) at its summit. The suspension of the fetlock is assessed by the length of the pastern (1st and 2nd phalanx), which is measured between the coronet and the basis of the fetlock, and the angle between the axis of the pastern and the axis of the canon bone. Observation is done at still, the horse placed in balance on a flat floor, members at the same height and canon bones at vertical.

fetlocks Suspension

Chapter 10.

For reasons of efficiency and fix to get a still with the 4 perfectly placed members, it should be noted separately and successively the suspension of the fore and hind fetlock.

Characterization The suspension will be so-called «straight» if the angle between the axis of the pastern and the cannon bone is greater than 150 °, «rather straight» between 145 ° and 150 °, «rather low» between 140 °-145 °, and «attached down» if it is lower than 140 ° (fig. 17). It will be said «attached short» if the length of the pastern is substantially identical to the diameter of the fetlock and even more «attached long» if this length is larger than the diameter of the fetlock (up to 1.5 times).

Figure 17


Part I Figure

Meaning The fetlock is the «marshalling yard» of the constraints to which the limbs are exposed. These are maximum at the jump landing for the forelimb and at the upward boost for hind limbs. To take the measure of the fetlock’s stress and the role of a good suspension, just look at the picture of a hind fetlock in the take-off phase of the jump and the one of a front fetlock in the landing phase...! Constraints affect the foot, particularly as the horse will be straight attached, and tendon network, (mainly the fetlock suspensory) all the more that the horse will be attached lower. As a lever, being «attached long» will increase the constraints impact on the ligaments and tendons if a low attached fetlock and being «short attached» will aggravate those transmitted to the foot by the pastern «straight jointed».

Discussion The hind fetlock is subject to a passive constraint (i.e. linked to the effort that it undergoes) weaker but more frequent that the fore fetlock and it is subject to a stronger ‘active’ constraint (i.e. linked to the effort it produces). The horse can «manage» the active constraints in the case of pain (it decreases the generated effort) but he «suffered» passive constraints and can eventually feel pain. Hind fetlock poorly suspended and long attached will cause suffering linked to the ‘active’ constraints and the horse will diminish its effort to lessen his suffering. This suffering will be accentuated for horses with very straight hocks. Fore fetlocks suspended too vertically (straight jointed) will result in an increase in pain during the «passive» constraints. The flexibility of the entire musculoskeletal system can compensate for the problems associated with a bad suspension of the fetlocks. The rigidity of the top line and gaits will to the contrary accentuate these problems. It is obviously advisable to seek a good fetlock suspension, not too straight or too low. Limbering up and a proper shoeing can delay or mitigate the pain related to the suspension defects of the fetlock.


© Pixels Events

A -> Droits

B -> Plutôt Droits

A -> Straight C -> Plutôt Bas Jointés

BD -> -> Rather Bas Straight Jointés

C -> Rather low

D -> Attached down

fetlocks Suspension

Boulets: Droits- -Attached Bas Jointés Fetlocks: Straight down


Chapter 11.


The foot is seen in its form of truncated cone: the angle of the front wall with the vertical; by the height of the heels and the angle of the back of the foot with the vertical. The surface of the sole (in contact with the ground) and the surface of the upper outlet of the cone (the 2nd phalanx area); and finally by the angle between the side walls and the vertical (they are usually flared).



The front wall has generally a smaller angle with the vertical that the rear side. The surface in contact with the ground must be larger than the surface of the upper part of the foot at the level of the coronet. The shape of the foot is observed with a normally shoed horse to halfway between two shoeing.

Characterization An entire book should be written on this single topic! We have chosen to simplify to the extreme by only noting the «size» of the foot, which is heritable. It will be called «small» to «great» on the basis of the ratio of the circumference of the coronet towards the ball and generally towards the general frame. A foot may be «cylindrical» if the cone has a cylinder form... It will be «bot» if the anterior wall approach vertical and «contracted» if the heels are very close. It will be «flat» if heels are close to the ground, «fleeing» if the anterior wall tilts towards the horizontal and «wide» if the sidewalls are flared.

Figure 18


Part I Figure

Meaning The hoof plays the role of constraints absorber, but it is that very little deformable. The desirable shape of the foot should be determined depending on the use. The «big feet» rather large were significant in light draft horses that had to keep their balance on the cobbled roads, as passenger liners on the waves. They are annoying for sport horses, because as they are only slightly deformable, they produce in the outer movements (receptions, bends...) more important constraints to the ligaments that connect the bones of the foot. It is inter alia to encourage the foot deformity and the relief of these constraints in the bends that some trotters are racing unshod. Shoeing of sport horses are often targeted to get or preserve the effect of «rollover» of the foot that can alleviate the ligaments and foot tendons. At the other extreme, very small feet have a limited absorber role and can accelerate or exacerbate locomotion disorders.

Discussion The truth is again in the middle: the foot should be large enough and the Horn flexible to ensure comfort and a shock absorber role but small enough not to accentuate suffered constraints including bending stress. This chapter is once again an opportunity to highlight the essential role of farriery in sport and of an adaptation of the shape of the foot and the shoes to the use. We do not tennis with ski shoes, and vice versa!


Skeletal structure

Observation The skeleton of the horse is composed (among others) of so-called «short bones» as the vertebrae, the bones of the Carpus and Tarsus (knee and Hock) and so-called long bones as those constituting the “radius” (see Chapter 14) canon bones (metacarpals) or even the ribs.

skeletal structure

Chapter 12.

The evaluation of the skeleton in terms of «lightness» or «heaviness» is done regarding the ratio between the size and the section of the long bones. The same exercise addressing short bones will determine if the horse is «weak» or «strong» at the level of the joints

Characterization We have no objective method of characterization to propose to the extent where the diameter of most of long bones is not significant to the naked eye, except those of the guns. It is so by comparing the diameter or circumference of the barrel from the silhouette of the horse that the observer will have the feeling of a horse «heavy» or «light» in the legs. In the same way, it is by visually rating to the size and shape of the knees, hocks and 4 fetlocks, the diameter of the canon bone and the silhouette of the horse that the observer will have an impression of «finesse» or «strength».

Meaning The forms and measures of short and long bones play a role in the strength of the skeleton. The concept of finesse or strength, which is commonly used and that we have taken, is a little improper insofar as it is attributed by the human eye without taking account of bone density, the solidity of the anchor points of the ligaments between all these bones (short bones between themselves, the short with the long (and the long between themselves).


Part I Figure

Fetlock and hocks with protruding relief joints will be pledges of more resistant attachment of ligaments and tendons. The strength of a skeleton appreciates by its ability over the time to allow athletic performance. It assesses, for the older performers, by the State of conservation of their joints at the end of their career. The diameter of the long bones is related to the total weight of the horse and a «heavy» skeleton, giving an impression of solidity, will also request more energy to move it.

Discussion Effort fractures of long bones are extremely rare and there is no evidence that they are correlated with their diameter. Without any exaggeration in lightness, it will be preferred to avoid too heavy skeleton requiring additional efforts to move. The joints must be proportionate to the rest of the skeleton. Large, well designed and protruding joints were once considered ‘power points’ but for one use other than jumping. The strength of joints and skeleton remain desirable qualities; the volume of the joints and the diameter of long bones must be judged «visually», likely to enable performance. It is not certain that the maximum is the best, but until evidence to the contrary, i.e. until science complete our information on this subject, this remains an appreciated feature by buyers, therefore to take into consideration.


Articulation: Fines - Fortes

-> Fines Fine AA->

skeletal structure

Joints: Finesse - Strenght

-> Plutôt Rather Fine BB-> Fines

-> Plutôt Rather Strong CC-> Fortes

Pixels Events

-> Fortes Strong DD->


Part I Figure

Skeleton: Light - Heavy

Ossature: Légère - Lourde

A -> Light A -> Légère

B -> Rather Light B -> Plutôt légère

-> Plutôt Ratherlourde Heavy CC->


© Pixels Events

-> Heavy DD->Lourde

Chapter 13.

This chapter is deliberately short. The size is measured by the distance between the ground and the top of the withers. It is correlated with the magnitude of the stride but not quite significantly so that we can define an ideal size.



Jappeloup and Milton were rivals with almost 15 cm gap size at the withers. The podium of the Beijing Olympic Games consisted of three small horses. Small cheetah has a larger stride than rhinoceros, etc... It is the amplitude of the stride and the ability of the horse to quickly vary the amplitude at the request of the rider which are decisive in this functional aspect of the size. However, for commercial reasons, we might prefer a «minimum size» and this criterion will be taken into account by the PAX program to analyze the compatibility of the proposed crossings points. Dressage and CCE to high-level do not welcome ‘small’ horses. If this criterion is irrelevant in the eyes of the breeder, they simply do not check it on the characterization document and it will be neutralized in the operation of the program.


Figure 19


Part I Figure

Chapter 14.

Observation The radius are 3 elements constituting the levers of the forelimb and hind limb. For the forelimb, it includes the scapula (shoulder), the humerus (arm) and the radius (forearm) that goes from the elbow to the knee. Measured by summing the distances ranging from the top of the shoulder blade to the tip of the shoulder, the tip of the shoulder to the elbow and elbow to the top of the knee (fig. 19).



For hind-limb, it includes the Hipbone (basin), and femur which attaches to the pelvic bone at the level of the trochanter and ends in the front by the patella, and tibia (thigh) that connects the femur and Tarsus (Hock). Measured by summing the distances ranging from point of hip to point of buttock, trochanter to the stifle and the stifle joint at the top of the hock. The trochanter is locates about an open hand in front of the point of the buttock towards the tip of the hip. The angles they form (cf. the shoulder and rump) and their size compared to the rest of the body are evaluated.

Characterization The radius will be «short» or «long» depending on their size relative to the size of the horse measured at the withers and rump and the shape of the figure. A horse will be told with long front radius if the sum of the lengths of the three radius (A + B + C) is greater than or equal to 95% of the size of the horse at the Withers (D), «rather long» between 88 and 95% of the size, «rather short» between 80% and 88%, and «short» if it is less than 80% of this size.


Part I Figure

The same terminology applies to hind limb (A ‘+ B’ + C), but by measuring the size at the top of the Croup (D) (lumbosacral joint). The overall impression note is summing up «forehand» + «hind hand». Warning: the radius are independent of the size at the withers and the extent of the silhouette. ITOT du Chateau is a small horse square silhouette, but with long radius!

Meaning The levers allow shoulder and thigh to play their role in locomotion and propulsion at the time of the jump. The longer they are, the easier they will be easy to operate, thus determining a larger amplitude of strides and a stronger boost at the time of the jump. It seems therefore desirable to favor horses with large radii.

Discussion If they are more efficient, large radii are also more sensitive to ‘misuse’ and they can become a disadvantage in very rigid or poorly balanced horses. They will then participate to amplify the consequences of the lack of balance and the wrong direction of propulsion when jumping. As with most of the other characteristics, there again, the assessment must be made by seeing how the horse, or the horse/rider pair, makes them work.


Lines: Short - Long

Rayons: Courts - Longs


A -> Short A -> Courts

B -> Rather Short B -> Plutôt Courts

-> Rather CC -> Plutôt Long Longs

© Pixels Events

-> Long DD ->Longs


Gaits Part II

Part II

Gaits Chapter 15. Walk Chapter 16. Trot Chapter 17. Canter


Chapter 15.

Observation The walk is a four beats gait in which a fore leg moves, then the posterior of the same side then the other fore leg and the last hind leg. It is judged without over doing by allowing the horse to move at good speed without disrupting its balance. A leg leaves the ground when the other three are in contact; one speaks of walking pace.



Its suppleness is measured by comparing the location of the track of a hind foot compared with the front one on of the same side that it comes to put on the ground. The horse «covers the track» If two footprints overlap. It is «under step» If the footprint of the hind foot arises behind the front one and is «over step» if it goes in front of the fore foot. This can be measured physically with a ruler of Carpenter. The walk amplitude, it is defined by the average distance in between the same two footprints! It can be measured by counting the average number of steps needed to go three or four times a distance in a straight line of at least 30 m.

Characterization To assess the suppleness of the walk, we will watch if the horse is «over step» or «under step», and how far. A over step horse will have a softer walk. It will have the following score, i.e. the second check box, if it is covering the track. It will be rated in the 3rd check box if he over step of less than 10 cm for a horse having an horizontal silhouette and less than 15 cm for a horse having a square silhouette and it will be scored with a lot of suppleness if the over step is more than 10 cm for the «horizontal» and more than 15 cm for the «squares». The walk amplitude must be assessed depending on the height of the horse. The step will be said small if it is shorter than 0.9 times the height at the withers; It should be rated in the following check box if it


Gaits Part II

is between 0.9 times and 1 times the height, it will be in the following check box between 1 and 1.1 times the height and will be «a lot» of amplitude if one step is greater than 1.1 times the height. Measurements shall be carried out with a warmed up horse and be relativized to reflect the age and physical condition of the horses at the time of the observation. A Mare at the end of gestation will of course lose amplitude and elasticity. The proposed ‘standards’ are aimed at a young adult in good physical condition and without excess weight.

Meaning The symmetry of the walk is desirable and it is at this gait that can be noticed a physical discomfort or musculoskeletal malfunctions. The suppleness of the walk, measured by the over step, is used to determine the ability of the horse to engage its hocks under its body and therefore, at work, to foster the vertical push off. The magnitude of the step is a sign of power and good operation of the levers of the shoulder and thigh. With a less functional meaning, it is also noteworthy that the walk is the first gait observed by judges for conformation. As for the head of the horse it creates a more or less favorable climate for further consideration.

Discussion The walk is a gait allowing to request «stretching» to improve the suppleness and to develop the muscles without unduly soliciting the joints and the cardiovascular system. Suppleness and amplitude are still of importance; like blood, it has no disadvantages to have a lot as long as it is used properly... A «good walk» can compensate some orientation or length defects, by showing that the horse uses properly the levers of the shoulder and rump.


Chapter 16.



Observation The trot is a two beats gait in which a fore limb moves at the same time as the opposite Hind, and vice versa, separated by a time of suspension. It is a symmetrical gait, two legs of a diagonal must leave the ground at the same time and touch it down at the same time. Its suppleness is observed by looking at the opening of the angle of the shoulder, the location of the fore foot from the front of the shoulder and the location of the opposite hind foot under the body at the time where they touch down the ground. The balance of the trot which can be «listen» such as the walk is also rated by the «bounce» quality of the trot, i.e. the duration and the height of the suspension phase between the two diagonal movement. As for the walk, the amplitude is measured between two successive prints of the same foot, at the working trot at the speed that the horse naturally adopts in hand beside the person who hold the line and who should accompany him in this natural speed.

Characterization The trot will be even suppler that the fore foot will be far before the levelness of the point of the shoulder, and that the rear foot will land near the back of the sternum. It will be even more balanced that the suspension phase will be long and that the space between the two prints of the same footing will be great.


Gaits Part II

The visual impression of an observer familiar enough with livestock competitions can be used as a method of characterization of the suppleness and balance. The amplitude is measured as for the walk. The trot will be «small» if the average length of a stride is less than 2 m 60, it will evaluate it in the following checkbox between 2 m 60 and 2 m 80, the following between 2 m 80 and 3 m and it will be rated with «great» amplitude beyond 3 m.

Meaning The Trot observation allows to evaluate the symmetry of the functioning of the 4 legs, and to develop it. It is a gait that especially solicits the Back strap. It alternates phases of contraction when both feet are on the ground and release during the suspension phase. A «bouncy» trot also requests the shoulder muscles and those that attach the shoulder to the chest and that will be solicited in the take-off and landing strides of the jump. This is the bounce of the trot that allows the horse to evolve in the collected gaits for dressage.

Discussion For the jumpers, the symmetry and balance of the trot are better than the magnitude and even the suppleness.


Chapter 17.

Observation The Canter is a three beats gait with a suspension phase as defined in the book «Le jugement en concours d’élevage»:



1. «Compression» phase: galloping left this is the time where the fore left is on the ground and when the horse begins to bend its front legs. Fore left on the ground, the weight on the shoulders, the relieved hindquarter can compress. 2. «Engagement» phase: the horse is in suspension: this is when the horse is going to engage the hind legs under himself, where it will bend the hips. There are hip, back top line and neck flexion (end of the Bending phase). 3. «Boost» phase: one hind leg on the ground, it is when the horse really carries out its propulsion and when then it lands the diagonal legs. The right hind is pushing and stretching begins (beginning of development of the stride). 4. «Development phase of the stride»: right diagonal is moving, haunches back and neck stretching, (end of the development of the stride). The canter suppleness is assessed at the time of the engagement of the hind legs under the weight of the horse. The canter balance is assessed during the boost phase, watching the general movement of the silhouette, and when the next stride begins at the time of the body weight transfer on the fore-hand. The canter development phase allows to evaluate the amplitude of the stride by the distance on the ground in between two successive imprints of the same foot. All these observations are done at “medium canter», i.e. natural canter of a loose relaxed horse.




Part II

The amplitude can be measured as for the walk and trot by counting the average number of strides to browse several times a straight line of at least 30 m. Amplitude will be weak if it does not exceed 3 m 30 and even greater by increments of 30 cm to reach the maximum score from 3 m 90. Suppleness and balance are visually assessed. A horse will be even more «supple» that its hocks go forward under the body during the suspension phase which precedes the boost phase. It will be even more balanced that he will give the feeling of lightness in the compression phase and the boost phase will propel it upward rather than horizontal.

Meaning It can be endless because the canter is the gait used to jump and it involves all of the parts of the body that will be mobilized by the jump phase. The suppler and the more balanced the canter is, the easier it is to vary the stride’s amplitude during the course and the easier it is to get the engagement of the hindquarter for vertical propulsion at the time of the jump. Wider the canter stride will be, broader the trajectory and more it will facilitate the rider’s option to remove a stride between two fences.

Discussion The canter has to be practiced to enable the horse to implement the levers of the shoulder and rump with maximum efficiency. More it will be naturally balanced, more the practice will be facilitated. More it will be supple, more the horse may respond to the instruction of the rider. The wider it will be, the more delicate it will be to handle for the rider, but more it will allow to evolve towards the high level.


Jump Part III

Part III

Jump Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter Chapter


18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

Approach Landing Fore legs jumping technique Hind legs jumping technique Elasticity Scope

Chapter 18.



Observation The ability to find the correct take-off spot is not related to the conformation, but it can be facilitated by the characteristics of locomotion. It is assessed, observing the behavior of the horse in the stride that precede the jump and the take-off stride. It includes: The ability of the horse to pay attention at the effort asked by the rider by turning his gaze and, pointing his ears to the obstacle and by making abstraction of ‘parasites information. Taking account of the gesture of the man with the whip which is in the turn and one who at the take-off spot means a good sense of the approach. The ability of the horse to adjust itself the size of its strides to find the right take-off spot. For this reason the sense of approach is more easily observed with a single fence. The ability of the horse to prepare its take-off stride by stretching up in the previous stride to amplify the downward movement of the thorax at the time when it hits the ground and the upwards movement at the time of the rise of the withers.


Part III


Characterization The presence of these three qualities determines a very good sense of approach, described as «attentive». It will become more and more «indifferent» as the horse will get distracted and unable to implement these mechanisms that will facilitate the jump!

Meaning The sense of approach, as the elasticity of the jump, is clearly a valuable quality for an amateur horse, but it is useful at all levels of the competition and it allows a very high level horse to react faster, or even to anticipate the solicitations of the rider in a series of obstacles.

Discussion The sense of approach is unquestionably a natural predisposition, but it is also a quality that develops with the training. When free jumping, the person in charge of the take-off spot, by voice actions, by the position of the body and the manipulation of the whip, can guide the horse in the implementation of the qualities that make up the sense of approach.


Chapter 19.




The quality of the landing, which predisposes the approach of the next fence, is related to morphology, locomotion and jumping technique criteria. It is evaluated by the number of necessary strides for the horse to recover the balance and availability he had in the stride before the takeoff, in order to produce a new jump. It is linked to the natural ability of the horse to cushion the blow of landing and take back immediately all its faculties. More the bascule will be important and more the body will be in a vertical position at the of the front feet touch the ground, more physical constraints will be important in the fore-hand and more the balance recovery will be disrupted. The more supple and able to engage his hindquarters under its weight is the horse, the more the balance recovery. The more elastic is the trajectory, the more it will manage the physical constraints of landing. In addition it will effectively use his neck in the landing phase, it will be quickly available for the next maneuver (jump, turn...). To properly observe the natural predisposition of the free jumping horse to recover its balance, it is necessary to leave enough space after the obstacle so that he can perform at least 3 strides in a straight line. That is to provide at least 15 to 18 m between the background of the obstacle and the end of the line. The observer must be on the side of the landing-spot of the obstacle and focus its attention on this particular aspect of the jump.


Part III


Characterization The evaluation is done subjectively, by the expert eye, by estimating the number of strides needed for recovery of balance. For those who have a free jumping place with a long straight-line, it is possible to verify the assessment by proposing a two strides double combination with two identical fences.

Meaning The necessity for a rapid equilibrium recovery is a no-brainer. Sequence of distances imposing a variation of amplitude of the stride, need to quickly turn from a jump are the two main reasons that make significant a good predisposition to the fast balance recovery after the jump.

Discussion This quality is related to conformation, locomotion and jumping technique parameters that are heritable. However, it is also a quality that develops through training: cavaletti lines, pols on the ground at the landing... Taking into account the parameters involved in this training, it should not be undertake too fast and too hard, at the risk of penalizing the longevity of the horse. As such, a good natural predisposition to balance recovery is to search and preserve.


Fore legs jumping technique

Observation The fore legs technique is the result of several movements which involve the pectoral muscles that connect the shoulders to the chest, shoulder and arm muscles that will bend the fore-hand levers, as well as the muscles of the neck which will play the role of balance. The first phase of the jump at the level of the fore-hand is the ÂŤhitsÂť that will lower the chest down between the shoulders by transforming the horizontal kinetic energy in vertical force, before to go back under the action of the chest and shoulder muscles to elevate the fore-hand.

Fore legs jumping technique

Chapter 20.

The arm and shoulder muscles will bend the scapulo-humeral levers (shoulder blade-Humerus) and humero-radial to allow the elevation of the point of the shoulder and knees forward movement. The bending of the knee is determined by the muscles that connect it to the radius and bending of the fetlock allows to save even a few inches in height (fig. 20, 21, 22 and 23).

Figure 20


Part III


Characterization The implementation of these mechanisms is objectivized by the observation of the quality of the elevation of the Withers (Hit phase), of the forward movement of the shoulder, the knee and fetlock bending. It is characterized in terms of efficiency through the power of elevation, the speed and the amplitude of the bending of the joints and the involvement of the neck to make the shoulders move forward.

Figures 21, 22, 23 Meaning It will be even easier for a horse to be careful with the front hand that he will have good natural technique and a good speed of execution of the necessary actions to the good clearing of this part of the body.

Discussion Natural gesture of the front end observation can be altered by training techniques to improve it but also, in the other direction, by the problems of balance and confidence which may lead a horse to «lose its Latin”. To do this, it is preferable to evaluate several times the natural ability to jump by multiplying jumps on a small fence (80 cm - 1 m), without adjustment fence, before to «test» this technique on bigger jumps (1 m 20 - 1 m 30 in height and width) with, this time, an adjustment fence.


Hind legs jumping technique Observation As with the front legs, the technique of the hindquarters is the result of several mechanisms. Hocks start to bend under the weight of the body when the shoulders begin to get up (fig.31). The fetlock is fully extended and often comes flush with the ground with a maximum stretch of the suspensory tendons. Hocks then extend at the point where the neck elongates to pull the fore-hand forward and facilitate the back muscles action (fig. 32). It’s the time of the maximum thrust and the levers of the rump open up to get the vertical propulsion. Stretch of the lumbar sacral joint and release of the levers involved in the vertical propulsion will ensure the quality of hovering above the obstacle. Dorsolumbar muscles will contract to (slightly) correct the shape of the jump, neck will play its role of balance and hocks will more or less bend to make a «final touch» to the bascule over the fence (fig.33 and 34).

Hind legs jumping technique

Chapter 21.

Figure 24

Characterization All these mechanisms cause the parabolic shape of the jump, the quality of the elevation of the sacrum, the forwards bascule of the body and the movement of the distal portion of the hind limbs (Hocks and fetlocks) to avoid touching the fence and ensure a good landing. The assessment will start from «flat» for the horses having a vertical boost correct but not followed by a sufficient rocking motion to shelter a fault, to ‘round’ for horses highly involving their hindquarters (lumbosacral region, hocks, ankles...) to ensure the bascule over the fence.


Partie III Saut

Figures 25, 26, 27 Meaning More the stifle will be in natural position forward from centerline of the point of the hip to the Hock, more the opening of the lever will be effective in terms of boost.More Hock will be wide and better it will play its role at the time of the initial push.

Discussion As for the front end technique, observation of the gesture of the hindquarters can be affected by ÂŤtechniquesÂť (polling!) and tricks (tight hind boots) which alter the perception by the horse of its position in space and exaggerate the rocker, the relaxation of the levers of the Croup and the role of hind fetlock. Besides these tricks are of a questionable ethics and that they alter the perception of the natural provisions of the horse (and therefore the conclusions that the breeder can make), they are likely to affect the longevity of the horse by exaggerating the constraints supported by the back at the hover and the Forelegs at landing. An exaggerated bascule can cause problems of recovery of balance after the jump. Precipitation and the instinct of flight can alter the natural gestures of the hind limbs, and to enable it to express themselves, it is essential to get confidence and relaxation of the horse: this is achieved through the respect of a sufficiently long warm-up phase.


At the end, the breeder will do his best to evaluate the natural predispositions by jumping small repeated fences, by varying the take-off place, before moving on to bigger jumps, with an one or two strides combination .

Chapter 22.




For the most part, the trajectory of the jump is determined by the horizontal speed at take-off, the initial striking of the fore-hand and thrust of the hindquarters; It is therefore largely predictable when the hind feet leave the ground, particularly with regard to its Summit. However, the horse still have some resources to change the shape of this current trajectory. It is the set of these resources that determines the elasticity of the jump. They include: The neck which can play a corrective role on the length and trajectory after the jump boots. The back can, by bending and opening up, also correct this shape by closing or opening the parable. The opening of the lumbosacral region may also modify the bascule of the jump. Hocks initial bending and opening in the air, can correct course (everyone remembers seeing a horse «out the feet» of an oxer thanks to this movement). These four ‘additional engines’ capable of altering the shape of the jump determine the quality of elasticity.


Part III


Characterization It is subjective and is measured evaluating the implementation of the means mentioned above, in little extreme, situations, linked to a risky take-off point or an unexpected obstacle shape or size. It will be measured in causing these situations by the change of position of the first fence of the line, or by setting width or height of the main fence after several similar jumps and observing the reaction of the horse.

Meaning Elasticity is an obvious quality for very high level sport but also, and especially, for amateur at medium and high level sport, in which risky or imperfect approaches seek regularly implementing the qualities of elasticity. Do not confuse it with the suppleness even if suppleness is important to implement the elasticity. An «elastic» horse is flexible but a flexible horse will not necessarily be «elastic».

Discussion This quality highly important because it is difficult to obtain through the training and it allows the carefull horses to demonstrate their quality. Its heritability is uncertain, what does not mean that it does not exist, and itself is often common to sibling offspring. It must not provide the horse to produce the necessary effort of propulsion necessary to the proper execution of the jump. Paloubet d’Hallong is a very good example of extreme elasticity.


Chapter 23.



Observation With the jump’s parameters, we enter into the area of interactions between morphological characteristics, the natural characteristics of locomotion and their expression to serve the jumping exercise. The strength is the ability to operate the levers of the shoulder and rump and mobilize the back and neck muscles to propel the horse with a maximum of energy upwards and forwards. The traction power could estimate with the weight of the trailer load; the power of jump is not merely the height or the width of the crossed fence, insofar as it is related also to work, confidence and jump technique. This observation is subjective and the elements of characterization that we propose are visual order.

Characterization Power impression is the resultant of several natural components and related to the training, including blood, shoulder, rump and back conformation, suppleness, muscle tone. It is measured by the ability of the horse to produce the same form of jump regardless of the quality of the approach (distance, balance...) and whatever the height or width of the obstacle (staying in reasonable standards i.e. 1 m 40 maximum height and 1 m 60 maximum width to free jump a three years old).


Part III




It is with its strength that the horse will be able to cross over fences very high or very wide, but also compensate for defects or inaccuracies of location of the take-off stride or balance of the rider upon jumping It is essential to address the very high level and very useful for amateur riders to offset the ÂŤhazardsÂť of a course

Discussion The strength is related to the size of the bones of the shoulder and rump. It is linked to the tone and the power of the muscles that animate them. It is expressed if the horse has self-confidence. Regarding the morphology, the power of the hocks that bend and stretch in the take-off stride to orient the jump and then to articulate in the air to participate in the shape of the trajectory, is very important. We will prefer the hocks not too bent to allow a good vertical push, quite wide at their base and attached strongly to the thigh (tibia) with a robust tendon.

Behaviour Part IV

Partie IV

Behaviour Chapter 24. Blood Chapter 25. At stud Chapter 26. At work


Chapter 24

The blood both measured the ability of the horse to feel a «emotion» of any nature and its ability to transform it into a proper neuromuscular response. It is a heritable feature.



A horse «near the blood» will perceive an external stimulus faster than a horse «missing blood» and faster, it will implement the appropriate response: lift his foot to allow the groom cleaned it, lay ears to intimidate an intruder, making a swing to get away from danger, contract a muscle or bend faster and stronger joint to avoid an obstacle... Blood is like money «cannot have too much so long as good use»! Too much blood can make a horse too sensitive for an amateur rider and too little is incompatible with high-level sport. The blood is not (yet) objectively measured and we propose to the breeder to evaluate ‘the blood impression’. It evaluates daily on the Mare and its production, as the case may be according to appropriate behavior at work, but also in the box and within the herd. It is to be assessed, for parameters of behavior at work, in relation to the State of health and fitness. We do not have the same «blood» following a sleepless night, or at the arrival of a marathon than at the beginning of the evening or at the start of the race... The speed of recovery, the speed a horse will get its condition and its weight of form back after a period of rest are also the evidence of the blood.


Chapter 25.

At Stud

At Stud

We touch here to an unfamiliar area and difficult to transform into precise characterization observations but everyone’s understand its importance. Mentioned above of a «good head». It is also a head (brain) that determines behaviors conducive to learning, memorization and repetition in time of gestures and attitudes favorable to the performance. There are books on behavioral observation but there is little or no publications that allow to make a link between observable behavior parameters and athletic performance. This is why this chapter takes the form of a discussion and that is also why readers are invited to enrich it by their contributions by mail or on the website We look at three aspects of the behavior that the breeder can observe over time by looking the comportment of a given individual within a group and how it interact with humans in common breeding acts (routes box-paddock, meals, vicinity, care, travel and gatherings...) The character subdued or dominant occurs within the herd by looking at the place of the individual in the hierarchy: access to the trough and the collective feeder, reaction to the actions of intimidation of other individuals. A ‘subdued’ will it act the same at training and will it be or easier to school? The question is not settled. On the other hand, it is assumed that hyper-dominant horse should be initiated with consideration to the joys of training.


Behavior Part IV

Placid or emotional temperament can be observed in the field (the opening of the hunting season is a period of choice for this kind of observation, same as the Fireworks, etc...), but it can also be done to the stable. Emotional horse is not the friend of the blacksmith when it spooks at the rasp noise or shoe which strikes the ground, but the «too placid» giving badly his foot or which is «hold me please» is not his friend either. This can be correlated with blood but not totally. There are emotional horses that lack blood which stress makes lose their means instead of make them react and there are placid horses behaving with all the energy and responsiveness necessary timely (it is often one of the qualities of the Kannan and Mr Blue offspring). Finally, curious or indifferent attitude can be observed in the way in which a horse reacts to changes in its environment: arrival of a new horse in the barn; introduction of an individual or a group into a new grass field, installation of a new fence ribbon, introduction of a toy in a box, etc... Curiosity shows an awakening and a sensitivity to external stimuli that can be useful in training, but an excessive curiosity can lead to a lower capacity of constant concentration for 60 to 90 seconds of a course full of «curiosities»! Is unknown, to our knowledge, almost everything about the heritability of this attitude, but it’s a gap that time will fill because it is an informative behavioral parameter! For these three behavioral parameters, the observation is done in duration; It starts at the youngest age, continues during the cycle for breeding and when the eventual return to stud after a sport career.


Chapter 26.

If the objective elements of assessment of the relationship between the training behavior and performance are rare in the literature, it is very easy to perceive their importance. This perception is possible if a dialogue between the rider and the breeder is set up. The first can effectively enable the latter to assess these parameters and taken into account in its choice of crossing and, conversely, the breeder can help the rider by informing on the breeding behavior parameters that can guide its work.

At Work

At Work

The first element of performance at work is courage: one with which the horse approached a training session or a simple walk. One with whom he agrees to reproduce an exercise that went wrong, one with which he accepts «bodybuilding sessions» which are imposed. A courageous horse is «pain tolerant» and agrees to work in suffering. Courage, is also the attitude with which the horse faces new situations (it is, as such, linked to the temperament and attitude at the stud). It takes courage to jump for the first time a new obstacle, to mount in a dimly lit van, etc... Courage (whose absence is characterized by ‘shyness’) is a predisposition that can be transmitted by the sire and which may also be the common point between individuals of a same mother line. It is inheritable and useful for the rider. Courage spreads but it is developed also in the relationship of trust which must settle with the rider. Attention: if it is cultivated, it can also get lost... it is then so hard to take back! The second parameter is the carefulness. There are sires that produce more «environmentally friendly» than others. It is a characteristic that can be quantified for sires with a large number of descendants, through their score at breeding shows, and on the basis of their horse show records.


Comportement Partie IV

Carefulness is, with force, one of the two essential qualities for success at a good level of competition. Insofar as this does not affect his courage, a horse cannot be «too careful.» On the other hand, a ‘viscerally’ careful horse is easier to discourage than a careless horse: he will prefer to stop rather than get hurt. A careful horse will be easier than a careless horse to evolve in his jumping technique, and more able to take the best advantage of its morphological characteristics, locomotion and over fences natural gesture. Carefulness is a natural predisposition that the rider’s work must highlight and preserve. Carefulness can also be obtained by using tricks (see above) but, beyond considerations of ethics, this is still on a provisional basis and at the expense of the physical integrity of the horse. In this small book, we do look at this ‘inheritable’ side of the characteristics, which the only one to steer the breeder in its choices and the rider in his work. Performances obtained in too «artificial» way in breeding shows and young horses horse shows are not useful information and could even be considered for potential breeding stock as a «cheating on essential qualities. Finally, the criterion «intelligence» appears as useful to choose a cross breeding. Intelligence is not here as a Faculty of analysis and deductions unlike other animal species, but as a capacity to produce and to reproduce an appropriate response to a request from the entourage. An ‘intelligent’ horse gives his other 3 feet to his groom spontaneously after having been asked to give the first, he is able to rectify an error in a training exercise (cavaletti line, lead change, etc...) and especially not to reproduce it a few sessions later. He very quickly became able to reproduce without solicitation or almost, a movement he learned: rock is weight on the hindquarters in a straight line, bending in a turn... Not only an ‘intelligent’ horse is a more pleasant companion on a daily basis but it is, as all things equal, an athlete more effective and more efficient. Intelligence is unquestionably ‘heritable’, although it is still poorly known and it is a quality to look for, even if in excess, it can become counterproductive if it is not accompanied by sufficient courage


The behavioral parameters allow to better understand how the horse uses its morphological characteristics, locomotion and over fence natural gesture to perform the exercise or work that is asked. All mechanisms of interaction and compensation between those characteristics, which some have been highlighted in this book, are implemented through complex ÂŤbehavioral softwareÂť. Experience allows the rider and horseman to understand them but science should in the future help us to decode them. In the meantime, and empirically, the marriage of the behavioral characteristics to get a proper attitude at work, is one of the aspects of the choice of mating that the breeder must take into account with the highest interest!

At Work

Conclusion about behavioral parameters


Conclusion Cattle and pig breeders commonly use programs of the same type as the PAX to guide their choice of genetics. The conformation of the udder has a meaning on milk production and speed of Treaty, the shape of the basin on the ease of calving and yield of meat, etc... These are areas in which the relationship between morphological characteristics and performance is better known and quantified than for equine species, but there is no reason preventing us to make progress in this direction. The heritability of these characteristics is important and should be well calculated because it is pointless to look at characters few or not inheritable. We selected and proposed 44 «observation points» trying to define a method of characterization and setting the functional reasons that make us think that these points have an interest to make a decision of mating. We are convinced that we must continue in this direction while being well aware of the limitations of a too «mathematical» reasoning in a field in which the essence has yet to discover. Two full brothers may be very different from one another and the characteristics of a foal will only very rarely all be halfway from those of their parents.


However, we cannot produce the foal «of our dreams» if we do not define how heshould look like! In the afterword of this little book, we propose some «tips and tricks» for the best possible use of the PAX program in the current state of our knowledge. This work reflects our commitment to offer our services in the greater transparency and to put all our observations and our knowledge available to our customers. If it encourages and helps you to look your mares a little more in detail, if it encourages and helps you to define the foal you want to raise a little better, then PAX will have played its role. If it makes the community of breeders to give itself the means to better understand and better define the meaning of morphological, locomotor and behavioral characteristics and better define their heritability, PAX will have exceeded our expectations! To achieve a maximum effect of the PAX it is interesting to use it several times. The breeder should strive to learn as much as possible the criteria of gaits and jumping to get an effective use of PAX.


Tips & tricks

AFTERWORK – Tips for using the PAX 1. Heritability statistics allow to assert that a descendant morphological characteristics will be most probably between his parents as below one or the over another: in a very simplified way, it can be said that a Mare with the «slightly inclined» shoulder crossed with a horse with one shoulder «very inclined» have more chance to produce a horse with an ‘inclined’ shoulder than a horse with a very straight shoulder. As a mater in fact, it is difficult to predict, for a particular situation, if it will be closer to his father that his mother and two or three own brothers, if they probably have characteristics between those of their parents, they may be very different from the other. It is easy to understand that the characteristics of the descendant will be easier to predict if those of the father and the mother will be close. 30°C water mixed with water at 40°C, regardless of the proportions of the mixture, will give a temperature between 30°C and 40°C so that it is more difficult to predict the temperature of a bowl of boiling water mixed with ice cubes! In practice, if we want to «fix» a feature in a breeding farm (or a stud-book) it is better to move gradually towards «similar» animals mating. The more «dissimilar» animals will be crossed, the more the results will be up and down, and the more it will take time to «fix» the corresponding feature.


Even for a «fixed» feature, the hazards of combinations of genes can conduct to obtain a descendant to very far from the characteristics of his parents. This one will be tricky to use for breeding. 2. To achieve a maximum effect of the PAX program, it is interesting to use it several times: for a given Mare, first fill 5 to 10 of the highest specifications, or those to which the breeder attaches the greatest importance. The program will offer a list of the more compatible stallions with a maximum of 10 names. Then, fill in 5 to 10 additional features which the assessment by the breeder is easy. The software will again propose a dozen stallions which a common number with the 1st list and a few ones. It is possible to process into 3 or 4 steps to run the software with all the features available. It is also possible to change the «priority» characteristics… The stallions that appear in all these successive lists are probably the most indicated for the Mare in question. 3. The PAX can work with the entire GFE stallions catalogue but you can also refine the search with options :

- to one or several stallions choosed in the list - to the stallions available only in fresh semen

- to the stallions who have a lower breeding price...

4. Be careful not to limit your choice at the morphological compatibility. This booklet highlights the interaction between morphology, locomotion and natural jumping ability. The breeder should strive to match as much as possible the criteria of gaits and jumping for an efficient use of the PAX! 5. To choose what Mare of livestock is matching to a given stallion, simply operate the program in the same way (in stages) for all the mares, by restricting the points of compatibility to the single stallion in question (see operating instructions). The 2 or 3 Mares presenting the largest number of points of


compatibility, after a detailed analysis of the mode to get the final score of points, will be those among them to choose the one that will match the stallion in question. 6. To ensure maximum objectivity in the characterization of mares, in addition to possible dialogue with the rider, it is interesting to do a team work at 2 or 3 people to exchange views and gain objectivity. This can be done between or with the head of your insemination center or still asking the visit of a person qualified by the GFE. 7. Before drawing conclusions from lists of stallions proposed by the PAX, it is useful to to look at in detail the compatibility by criterion, to examine those bringing points and those pulling out. You can reach the same number of «points of compatibility» with very consistent criteria (pluses) accumulated with little consistent criteria (negatives) or with a set of criteria «rather consistent» without negative criteria: the risk is not the same. 8. At the end of the day, the PAX is a precise and mathematical tool, but its use must be tempered by the eye, common sense and instincts that are essential qualities for a breeder.



10 GFE Stallion examples Annex Annex Annex Annex Annex Annex Annex Annex Annex Annex

1. Air Jordan Z 2. Corofino I 3. Gemini CL 4. Lauterbach 5. Orlando 6. Pezetas Du Rouet 7. President 8. Quintus 9. Ulhan Du Temple 10. Up To You

Characterization Grid Annex 11.

How to objectivize the Characterization


Annex 12.

Air Jordan Z

Annex 1

Corofino I

Annex 2

Gemini CL

Annex 3


Annex 4


Annex 5

Pezetas Du Rouet

Annex 6


Annex 7


Annex 8

Ulhan Du Temple

Annex 9

Up To You

Annex 10

Annex 11

Figure Lenght/height ratio

< 0.96 0.96 to 1.03 1.03 to 1.10 > 1.10

Square Rather Square Rather Rectangular Rectangular


Difference Withers height & croup’s top height

> 3 cm 3 to 0 cm 0 to -3 cm Over - 3 cm

Up Hill Rather uphill Rather downhill Downhill


Difference neck length & top line length

Over - 7 cm - 7 to 0 cm 0 to 7 cm Over 7 cm

Short Rather short Rather long Long


Angle neck axis angle and horizontal plan

< 45° 45° to 50° 50° to 55° > 55°

Horizontal Rather Horizontal Rather vertical Vertical


Angle shoulder blade axis and vertical plan

< 30° 30° to 35° 35° to 40° > 40°

Vertical Rather Vertical Rather Oblique Oblique


Shoulder area/ figure surface ((scapula X arm)/2)/ (average withers and sacrum height X length mesured §1)

< 3.8% 3.8% to 4.2% 4.2% to 4.6% > 4.6%

Small Rather Small Rather Large Large




Withers Distance T4 (withers top) & T9 (withers basis)

< 12 cm 12 to 17 cm 17 to 22 cm > 22 cm

Short Rather short Rather long Long


Angle Pelvis axis & horizontal angle

< 21° 21° to 27° 27° to 33° > 33°

Horizontal Rather Horizontale Rather Oblique Oblique


Pelvis length / sacrum size ratio

< 27% 27% to 31% 31% to 35% > 35%

Short Rather short Rather long Long


(Sum shoulder blade+ arm + < 80% fore arm + Hip + femur+ Tibia)/ 80% to 88% (Sum withers height + sacrum 88% to 95% height) > 95%

Short Rather short Rather long Long



Annex 12


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