ALEX: There are a few things that are really important in selecting a horse, and probably one of the most important things is conformation. Conformation based on specific breeds. And Steve, if you could, please elaborate on the conformation of a horse.

STEVE: Well the conformation is the overall development and muscle: the frame, the size, the size of their feet, the angle of their feet. You take into consideration all of these aspects, as well as if this horse is made for the particular discipline.

You’re certainly not going to be — if you’re going to try to buy a head horse that’s going to be able to carry around a 220-pound man — you’re probably not going to be in the market for a 14.2, slightly built horse, because it’s just not really suitable physically for that particular application.

But if you are a large man, and you want to buy a heading horse in particular — or a horse that you’re going to rope off of — you want to take into consideration the size. You want a horse 15.2, 15 hands plus, 1250 – 1300 pounds. A lot more size, stature and a lot more muscular development for what they’re going to be used for, because they’re not going to be able to perform the task if they’re a small, slight horse, if they’re turning steers, for instance.

ALEX: Now there are certain conformation issues that could predispose a horse to injury or not having a lasting career with you, is that correct?

STEVE: Oh yeah. If you’ve got a horse that’s really, really upright and maybe turns in, or he’s a little bit pigeon-toed, you’ve got to expect trouble down the road: potentially ankle problems, suspensory problems or foot problems if they get out of balance.

It’s certainly something that needs to be taken into consideration. First off, just looking at the horse, and then obviously the veterinarian would look into this area in more depth with a physical exam and/or radiographs.