Dressage Prospect Conformation Critique

Hello all!

I am looking at a few horses as prospects for dressage potential. I am looking at mainly doing dressage, with a potential for cross training into eventing. Any major conformation faults? Which would be your choice?
#1 - 2 y/o warmblood/tb - string tests to 16.2/16.3
#2 - 2 y/o warmblood - likely will be 16.0
#3 - 2 y/o warmblood - string tests to 16.2
#4 - 4 y/o warmblood - 16.0


They are all attractive horses and have good points and bad points. Two year olds can be somewhat fugly but these all look pretty mature and past the fugly stage. Bear in mind most two year warmbloods will bulk up a good bit as they mature. More useful would be seeing them move and see how they use their body.

As far as eventing goes - the farther up the ranks you go the more essential it is that the horse has a good gallop which usually means more TB blood. Jumping ability is proven to be pretty heritable so looking at the pedigree will tell you a lot about that. Some dressage bloodlines are dual purpose but not all.


Good to know. #1 + #3 have the most TB. :slight_smile:

i like #2 except right now, he’s downhill (stifle to elbow, not topline). He has a nice short back and a full hip. I like his legs, like his kinda short cannons (in front). Like his big boned hock joints. Though both 1 and 2 are a bit over in their fronts. too much forechest…but both of them have better shoulder angles than 3 and 4 do. Wish they didn’t have his head cranked around and i wish a front and a hind leg were vertical…i suspect things might be off when they don’t have two legs vertical, or at the very least one. Number one has too fine a leg bone for my liking.
Number 3 is my second choice.
Number 4, to me, lacks harmony between front and back ends…may be the short croup?

1 Like

I also like #2 the best. Good angle to shoulder and croup, back not to long, generous hip for future muscling.
I liked 4 the least. Shoulder is too steep and neck is tied in too low on the chest.

1 Like

They are all “good enough”, to very nice.

#1 and 2 are the nicest, as those have the best pillar of support - how far in front of the withers the front legs emerge. More is better, to a point. The closer they are to the withers, the physically heavier the front end.

My least fave is #4. It’s an ok pillar of support, but the loin is a bit long and flat, which affects the ability to coil the hind end. The hind end is light (shallow), especially relative to the shoulder and it’s not just that s/he has 4yo muscling, the hind.

My favorite is #1.


Do you mean your least favorite is #4?

YES! Yikes LOL I edited my comment. Thanks for that catch!

For some context,
#1 - cheapest
#2 - most expensive
#3 - middle priced
#4 - middle priced (but has been backed - just heavy and very fussy in the mouth)

#4 - seems to have a lot of shoulder compared to the hind end. I just can’t put my finger on it, but, very kind mare and had a nice start on her
#2 - seemed to be the most sensitive mare, but hasn’t had much training

My eye is drawn to #1 the best. I like her type, expression, and pillar of support. #2 is a close second in that I see a lot to like there, and I like that horse’s expression the most. I agree with JB in everything they said and think these four are plenty nice. It is just up to how they move, and personal preference.


I like #1 the best. It is the least flattering angle, possibly trying to hide a butt high phase, but at this age butt high wouldn’t bother me.

However, seeing them in motion would have an effect on how I feel. #4 has coupling I dislike, when it should be the best of the 4 due to age if all else were equal. Her neck ties in low into her shoulders, and her neck doesn’t have muscling indicating she’d want to lift in front. I wouldn’t want to take her over solid things based on this one photo.
They’re actually all a bit straight in the hocks, but that doesn’t bother me as long as you give them time to develop strength behind to support the stifles. Horses 3 and 4 (again, in the photos, and it could be photo issues) also seem straighter in the stifles, and that does concern me. The first two look like they’d be lighter in front, but again - seeing them in motion can make a big difference.

1 Like

Based on these photos alone, I would choose number two. Runner up would be #1. I like #2 face and expression much better.


My order of choice would be as you have them and based on these photos alone. Good luck in choosing! I just bought a new horse with similar conformation to #1, and I love him! :grin:

1 Like


Order is: 3; 1; 2; 4

Super short videos everyone…

1 Like

I still like #2! He’s cute!

ETA I like #1’s canter better

#1 looks better in his video than still photo


I’d rank them in the order you have the pictures… looking at movement, I’d still rank #1 a bit higher than 2. I’d like to see more video of both, specifically more trot from 1, and more canter from 2. I think 1 uses their body better in the canter.


I agree that I like them in the order of their photos. The videos of 3 and 4 bear out my thoughts on their hind ends- their hocks come up toward their buttocks rather than under. 1 doesn’t have as good a video as 2, but I like the movement a bit better - I see more inherent athleticism.

#1 is lovely but imo a bit light on bone. Depending on how much eventing you want to do, that’s a factor.

#4 has a less than ideal front end/neck shoulder configuration. Her video bears that out.

I like #2 the best.


#1 presents a lovely picture at first glance – but I would be wary of those long pasterns, relatively long cannon bones and, as @eightpondfarm pointed out, the set of the front legs.