Have you ever wanted to look through the judge’s eyes and see what they see during the conformation portion of a USEA Young or Future Event Horse competition? Now is your chance! Using only a photo and information on age and breed, legendary horseman and past FEH/YEH Championship judge Chris Ryan is sharing his insights into young horse conformation in our Conformation Critique article series.
Chris Ryan observed that this 3-year-old Thoroughbred gelding is “well-grown and has good refinement to match his Thoroughbred status. Has a stronger constitution than some which can stand to him. The ‘open stance’ shown here shows him to best effect. A picture paints a thousand words, as we know. It’s a bit like a model looking to impress, or it should be, as that first impression is so important. Go to the Goresbridge Go for Gold event horse sale website – the still photos are expertly taken. It’s useful to have the horse like this one, stood on hard core so we can examine his feet. He’s in his winter coat which can mislead your eye a little.”
“I find this horse’s head-to-neck connection a fraction strong and the neck-to-shoulder set a little low,” Ryan observed. “This can be inclined to put him on the forehand. He has a good shoulder with a good enough angle and good depth. He’s up a little behind as yet and should come up another inch or thereabouts, which will help him. He has a very good back end, second thigh, and hock to propel him forwards and hopefully elevate at jump.”
Looking to this youngster’s legs, Ryan said, “He’s fractionally back of the knee but nothing to worry about. He has good bone and tight joints, and good correct angle to pasterns. His feet might be a little flat and lack a little heel, which is a common trait in the Thoroughbred.”
“He’s showing a lovely rhythm at the trot but he carries himself very heavy on the front end,” Ryan observed of the submitted video. “He’s back in his summer clothes and I can see a raise in his back just behind the saddle. And there’s also a depression in front of his withers. I know on the lunge we like to have them work long and low at times to strengthen the muscle over their loins. I’m trying, in fairness, to imagine how he’d look when trotting in-hand. He needs to readjust his balance to put more weight on his back end, otherwise all that good power from behind just puts him into the ground. He’s obviously going to need to do this as he approaches his fence.”
“I’d like to have this horse more engaged at the walk. He’s well able to show more walk than we see here – he’s barely ambling along. He does look to have a very placid nature, but sometimes these horses can be very different when they really engage and participate!”
Comparing the video of the lunge line to the under saddle video, Ryan said, “The ridden video shows the handler has done a super job. The horse is very calm and retains his lovely rhythm at the trot and is actually a little better balanced on a light contact and under saddle and rider than when lunged. The head on shot shows he is nicely correct and straight, as we thought.”
This 3-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred is Karnak. Karnak raced under the Jockey Club name Pure Quill and is by Munnings and out of Social Amber, by War Front. His owner, Molly Manninen, adopted Karnak through the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.
“I have done quite a bit of groundwork with him including obstacles, tricks, and jumping, am working on moving forward freely under saddle, and am introducing him to trail riding,” Manninen shared. “So far he has not been fazed by anything I’ve throw at him – tarps, puddles, children, dogs, crazy weather, riding bareback, etc.”
Of his personality, Manninen said, “He's the most chill and pokey 3-year-old racehorse you'll ever meet. He's a sweet boy who tries really hard, but he's a bit of an internalizer and a wimp (we have to blanket him if it's chilly at all). I live in a pretty rural area without lots of opportunity to show, but I'm hoping he likes jumping and dressage so that I can work him towards low level eventing.”
Interested in submitting your horse to be critiqued? Send your high-resolution conformation photos to Jessica Duffy at [email protected] for your chance to be featured.
About Chris Ryan
Chris Ryan comes from one of the most storied families in Ireland. Following in his father’s footsteps, Ryan hunted the legendary Scarteen hounds for 28 seasons. The Scarteen hounds have been in the Ryan family for more than 400 years. From racing in his youth, to huntsman, and now judge and commentator, Ryan has become a regular part of eventing life in Ireland and Europe. One of the foundation selectors of the Goresbridge Go for Gold elite event horse sale held every November in Wexford, Ryan has developed a keen eye for young stock, many having gone on to great things in Ireland, England, and Europe. He is best known in the United States for finding McKinlaigh, the horse with whom Gina Miles won the individual silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and producing him from a 3-year-old to a 5-year-old at his first Preliminary level event. International winning and placed horses including Copper Beach, Cooley Rourkes Drift, Cooley SRS, November Night, Prince Mayo, Glencento, Reenmore Duke, Ballymurphy Mark, and many others all came under his eye and passed the test. All this experience is blended with an instinct for what is required and the genetics to operate at the highest level.
Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.
To accompany the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, USEA Educational Partner STRIDER has prepared Digital Resources to Maximize Education & Access for the Eventing Community. In keeping with the USEA’s mission to expand the sport of eventing, this webinar outlines ways in which digital tools can be leveraged to increase access and education across equestrian opportunities. As part of STRIDER’s popular Professional Development Webinar Series, this presentation aims to provide a quick overview of best practices and digital tools used across the equestrian industry to boost growth.
Every horse who participated this year in the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program has a story—a background that involves a breeder who labored over bloodlines, veterinary care, initial training, and so much more. This year’s highest-placing U.S.-bred horse in the 5-year-old division at the Dutta Corp./USEA Young Event Horse Championships, Arden Augustus, is no exception. His breeder and owner, Anita Antenucci of Arden Farms in Upperville, Virginia, started her program nine years ago and said that the Warmblood gelding was a more emotionally driven breeding for her than others due to his connections with Antenucci’s long-time friend Sharon White.
Have you ever wondered why professional riders love bringing their horses through the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) program? USEA Podcast host Nicole Brown chats with two of this year's YEH Champions, Caroline Pamukcu who won the USEA YEH 4-year-old East Coast Championship aboard HSH Afterglow, and Andrea Baxter who won the USEA YEH 5-year-old Championship with Camelot PJ, to discuss this year's Championships and all of the great things that the program has to offer.