Jul 21, 2023

Conformation Critique with Chris Ryan: Redemption Storm

Photo courtesy of Ashley Steele

Have you ever wanted to look through the judge’s eyes and see what they see when evaluating a horse's conformation? Now is your chance! Using only a photo, video, and information on age and breed, legendary horseman and past USEA Young Event Horse Championship judge Chris Ryan is sharing his insights into equine conformation in our Conformation Critique article series.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Steele

First Impression

I love homebred horses. In our Irish Event Programs, national and international, the breeder and breeding is listed. As a commentator, I always commend the breeder. Without the breeder putting the right horses on the ground, we are lost. Breeding is a real labor of love and involves a long wait. I love to see those homebreds getting into the best of hands and this 2-year-old, Redemption Storm, is beautifully handled and produced.

She is a lovely quality bodied filly with great limbs. She possesses a big ear, which normally accompanies a good temperament. The best racehorse I handled and rode out was a chestnut mare who was European Champion older horse back in 1983, winning two Group 1 stakes races, two Group 2s, and a Group 3 and she broke the track record at Royal Ascot. I bought a lovely chestnut filly foal last year. I have no issues with chestnut fillies!


This filly has quite strong connections, head-to-neck and neck-to-shoulder, but is in no way coarse. She has a great shoulder with good slope. Her neck is set a fraction low, but she has lovely, raised withers and good depth and slope of quarters. Some fillies can be longer in the back than geldings and can have them a little weak behind the saddle; that is not the case here. Redemption Storm has lovely short cannons and good pastern angles. Plus a good length of second thigh which should transfer into good ground cover.

Photo courtesy of Ashley Steele

The hocks are as light as you’d like, but belong to the Thoroughbred. With your index finger and thumb take the measurement from the cap of the elbow to the point where the suspensory goes into the fetlock joint. Keep the space and now put your thumb over the cap of the elbow and you’ll see daylight under your index finger. Yes, a lot of growth to come. You can see her quarters are still higher than her withers. She’s only 2—some 2-year-olds go into a real ugly duckling stage. Not this filly! I can’t see her feet of heel depth, which can be an issue with some Thoroughbreds, in the stood up photos, but they look okay in the movement videos.


Great first stride! I remember backing a 3-year-old, and I thought I was in for a launch but no, it was just a huge first stride like this filly. She has very good power from behind and thus good overtrack. She is a little on the forehand at the trot, and I think it can improve with maturity. She is light on her feet and nicely correct.

Overall Assessment

This breeder has put a fine filly on the ground. She has lovely limbs which should aid soundness. In addition, she is beautifully handled and produced. She never blinks when the horses in the paddock take off. Very good temperament and in very good hands and has all the quality to go up the grades.

Interested in submitting your horse to be critiqued? Send your high-resolution conformation photos and video to Meagan DeLisle 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.

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