Looked at a QH today that is only 3, built very downhill right now. Has a very downhill lope, but he also only has about 30 rides on him & they haven’t started asking him to pick up his front & get on his hindquarters. Right now he’s at the “just go forward & don’t kill anyone” stage.

I don’t have enough experience with the real youngsters as far as watching them grow & getting a feel for when they might even out. He is currently about 16.1h at the withers, & 16.3 at the hip. all around bred.
Can anyone give me any idea if there is any hope for this horse to still even out?

Look at his parents and grandparents. Frankly, people have been breeding downhill stock horses for quite a while. Even the big ones that they are making to specialize in English riding at the quarter horse shows. I would not count on him evening out.


Three in November is 3 1/2, if he is still that much downhill I doubt he will even out. He may look more even when his withers spring but his front legs will still be short.

I’m going to be the third one to say that if he’s noticeably downhill now, he’ll probably always be that way, at least to some extent. Plus, while I wouldn’t expect a youngster with 30 rides to be finished under saddle, it’s not like he’s only had a half-dozen rides in a round pen. If he feels downhill at the lope/canter now, chances are he’s always going to feel that way to some degree. Over time, you can improve it somewhat, but due to his conformation I suspect that’s how he wants to travel.

Ooh boy, ain’t this the truth! I’ve ridden and shown several, and they are not my cup of tea.

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What are your goals for this horse?
What type of riding do you want to do?
What is his breeding? What type is riding are his papers meant for? (I know you said “all-around” but a few names would be helpful!)

Ditto to comments of the others but sometimes you just don’t know. Three can still be a very akward age and especially if he is that tall, he might really have some catching up to do in the front end yet.

I had a horse long ago (Beau) and he ended up finishing out about 16.1 hands. He was downhill for a while too but leveled out. And he actually had a weird little growth spurt closer to the END of his 4 year old year. So you just never know.

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I would look at his hind leg and how he uses it to make a determination about if he will always feel downhill. Some of these horses that are bred for western pleasure have an extremely straight hind leg, complete with very straight short pasterns and they do not articulate the joints in the hind leg at all. I would not anticipate that a horse that moves like this to be able to move in an uphill frame without major issues. They have been bred this way on purpose so don’t think you can change them.


I wish they wouldn’t breed downhill horses. I see it as a major fault. Now they are breeding for horses with extremely straight hind legs. I am retiring my paint mare and it’s been difficult to find anything that looks like an English horse. Everything I’ve seen is short/stocky or downhill. Most look like slow moving western pleasure horses unfortunately. I prefer the appendix look. A level topline is ideal. They should be level by 3 years old, definitely by 3.5 years. I don’t find riding a downhill horse that comfortable, and it can make saddle fit difficult.


Here is the goal. These horses are champions in their divisions.

That’s quite downhill. Yikes.


That’s the goal? I’d hate to see what downhill looks like. If that’s what judges are rewarding it’s no wonder people are breeding them downhill


Wow. That’s why these horses founder. If these are not downhill, what does downhill look like? This is terrible.

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I’ve ridden my friend’s very very nice all-around QH (WP and HUS). It was the strangest feeling, like I was going to slide down his neck.

Side note: My young horse will go around and around the arena like this on her own accord. Must give a good back stretch, or the sand smells good. :slight_smile:

Butt high build is part of the QH heritage - a higher croup is desirable in a sprinter, and that is what Quarter (mile) horses were originally bred to be: sprinters.

The hunter under saddle horses pictured probably bring their head up in the first phase of lope - they have to pump their neck to stay so slow. It used to be a fault to pass people in the rail phases so trainers had to make sure their horses could go as slow as needed. I used to exercise a couple very nice hunter under saddle western horses. They do not feel downhill despite appearances as they really use their core. It is just a unique feeling as you are on top of a mountain…nothing in front of you.

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The lurching at the lope is painful to watch, made worse because they all seem to do it sideways with the haunches in. Is there a reason for that?

I don’t agree, I could definitely feel the downhill build of the horse. It felt better but similar on his more finished HUS horse. The head being down isn’t the issue as I am used to riding my horses on a stretchy rein for many portions of a ride.

They do not step as deeply under (see the horse not tracking up at the trot) which doesn’t help their case - they can’t get the lift needed when their hind end is trailing.

The angle of the pics doesn’t do either horse any favors-- both are angled down so the horses look even more downhill (referencing the fence/wall in each background).

That said, yeah. Whole different world.

Here’s what I’ve been told in lessons and when I bluntly ask trainers, “Uhm, why?”

One reason is that by pushing the haunches in, you’re also angling the horse’s line of vision a little toward the rail. In this way, the rider is using the rail as a visual impediment to slow the horse. The other reason is that by pushing the haunches in, it (allegedly) causes the horse to use more of a sweeping, flatter motion with their inside shoulder and front leg, as they’re almost stepping across their track. This is especially obvious if you watch a western pleasure class from behind as the horses negotiate the corners.

As a disclaimer, I do not show my horse in western pleasure, unless I’m aiming for the all-around high point at a show. Then I’m happy to get a fifth or sixth place. I know some people love showing in pleasure, and they buy horses specifically bred and schooled to be stars in that one division. But it’s not my thing.


It is called being canted. It creates a false collection. Very common in breed shows where passing is seen as a bad thing. It also helps get, and hold a canter lead on a stiff horse.

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Yes, the trot above is not correct. It is likely not even truly two beat as the hind leg looks like it will land before the front. This is not that uncommonly seen in dressage either - it is not about being downhill, but more about being in a false frame - behind the bridle (yes ,I know his nose is poked out, but he is not stretching into contact). The hind end is allowed to trail to create a longer step in front…again, like we see in many other disciplines

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Nothing about it looks collected to me, even “false collection.” I presume then they horses aren’t penalized by the judge for not being straight?