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Frequently Asked Questions



Q10)  Is conformation inherited? 

Heredity plays a major role in conformation, passed down from both sire and dam.  Problems can be perpetuated in subsequent generations if the breeding program is not changed to eliminate conformational flaws. Knowing what conformational defects are likely to  produce specific unsoundnesses is the key to breeding horses with suitable conformation for the chosen discipline.

Some heritable conformational defects include:

  • ewe neck

  • parrot mouth

  • flat feet

  • base narrow/base wide

  • knock knees/bow legs

  • cow hocks/bow legs

  • bench knees

  • toed-in/toed-out

  • calf knees/buck knees

  • sickle hocks

These conformational defects are not specific to or characteristic of one breed.  All breeds are susceptible to passing on conformational flaws.

Since conformational flaws can contribute significantly to lameness, it is important to determine whether or not the lameness was acquired or inherited.  Studying pedigrees, breeding records and the conformation of close relatives will usually show whether a specific flaw is inherited.  If it is inherited, it is prudent to modify the breeding program to eliminate the flaw.

There are many excellent resources available.  In addition to the list below, visit the Conformation area of the online catalog.

Back to Conformation Index    

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