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 prior FEH/YEH Championship judge Chris Ryan is sharing his insights into young horse conformation in our Conformation Critique article series.
“This individual shows good refinement,” said Chris Ryan as he began his assessment of this 3-year-old Hanoverian/Arabian cross. “You can see the obvious quality at first glance. The horse’s near fore should ideally be placed further forward to show the horse to the best advantage. The way she stands here puts her on the forehand.”
“Now, how much blood has she? In her pedigree and as an individual? There is a description we use – ‘faux blood,’ or ‘false blood’. A horse can look real quality and progress well up through what is now the FEI two-star level, but when they go up to the next level, the FEI three-star, you will see them start to labor in the third and especially fourth quarter of the cross-country. Their stride shortens and their ability to make the time diminishes. Pulling out fresh the next day can also be compromised. They just don’t have enough Thoroughbred blood. I’m not referring to this filly making this point - she looks to have a lot of quality and should have plenty of stamina through her Arabian ancestry.”
Moving to the head and neck, Ryan said, “She has a lovely light connection and intelligence about her head. She’s showing a very good length of rein – imagine you are in the saddle and look what you have in front of you – and well-set neck-to-shoulder.”
“Her body is a little shallow and tubular and quite long in the back, as many fillies can be, and she has a rather flat top line as you often see in the Hanoverian. She will still rise up in her withers which are already well defined. There is quite a lot of air under her as yet!”
"She is also quite long in the cannon and a shade long in the pastern, which will give her good suspension. She’s a little long from her stifle to her hock, putting her hind leg a little behind her. Her limbs are a shade on the light side but are in proportion to her make and shape. Her feet and heel look fine.”
Overall, Ryan said, “A quality filly who will take time to mature. Lacks a little depth and perhaps a little constitution. Should wow the judges!”
This 3-year-old Hanoverian/Arabian filly is LF Sweet Temptation (Gianni Versailles x Figure of Speech), owned by Breanna Wyant. "She is registered half Arabian with Arabian Horse Association," Wyant shared. "She’s out of a Hanoverian mare and by an Arabian stallion. Her sire has thrown many eventing, hunters, and dressage horses while her dam has a history in dressage."
"Tempe" as she is known in the barn was bred by Elizabeth Lawrence at Legacy Farms in North Carolina. Wyant purchased Tempe in June of 2019 and started her under saddle that fall as a late 2-year-old. This summer, Tempe attended her first horse show at the Arabian Horse Association Region 15 Championships. "It was her first breed show and basically her first 'show' ever," Wyant said.
"She came home with Champion in her first Intro Dressage Test B. She also came home as the two-time Reserve Regional Champion in dressage type in-hand. She also earned two competitive top-five regional awards in hunter type in-hand. Her show goals are to be a national level hunter and dressage horse as well as my equitation mount. I’d love to be able to take her to a cross-country school once she is old enough to jump."
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.
At the August USEA Board of Governors meeting, a proposition was brought forth to officially recognize what is commonly referred to as “Starter level” as a USEA division. For many years now, Starter level has been offered as a test at USEA approved events. The decision to recognize the level officially would allow those competing in Starter level divisions to receive recognition on the USEA Leaderboards and to compete at the Starter level at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) in the future. The motion was approved to recognize this level, and the USEA staff have been hard at work preparing all of the rules, guidelines, and standards that will go along with this level’s recognition for the 2024 season.
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