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invariably shows the ilium side (point of hip to point of buttock) as the shortest side, which we see in Ravel. Horses with the femur (point of buttock to stifle) as the short side of the rear triangle do not reach underneath themselves as well, trail the hocks behind and are more prone to injury from the hock down. A horse with a short femur and an inward- facing stifle would be at a considerable disadvantage. Compared to the

jumper Hickstead that I analyzed in the last issue, Ravel has a shorter tibia (stifle to hock). This configuration helps Ravel keep his hocks underneath the

Photo © Tish Quirk

load when he closes the angles of his hind leg while in collection. With a long tibia, his hocks would be further behind him and the strain on both muscle and joint would be amplified. Most good dressage horses are light on the forehand.

Their pillar of support emerges well in front of the withers, they have considerable rise of the humerus (from elbow to point of shoulder) and have a base of neck well above the point of shoulder. Ravel meets all of these criteria and his pillar of support bisects the humerus very near the midpoint, which adds to lightness of the forehand. Also note that his pillar of support emerges into the rear quarter of the hoof, which is a factor for soundness, as is lightness of the forehand. The front end apparatus— scapula to point of shoulder

to elbow to knee—moves as one entity; nothing moves independently. Therefore, the dressage horse needs ample range of motion in the scapula, a well-angled humerus that is neither too long nor too short, and an elbow that does not contact the ribcage when moving forward or laterally.

The neck of the dressage horse tends to be shorter than in jumping or eventing where the neck is used as a counterbalance. The longer the neck of a dressage horse, the more precise the rider must be in order to keep the horse straight. Ravel’s neck is shorter than that of Anky van Grunsven’s Salinero (his is a longer neck than most dressage horses) but is within the normal range for top dressage mounts. From hindquarters to forequarters—as opposed to the

non-functional way of looking at a horse from head to tail—Ravel is built to do dressage.


Coming next issue: Judy analyzes the event mare Headley Britannia, the first mare to win a Kentucky Rolex CCI4*.

About Judy: Having researched equine confor- mation for the last 30 years, Judy has written two books about the subject with two more on the agenda. She travels worldwide giving clinics about conformation for all disciplines. Her website is

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