2. CONFORMATION & POSTURE
Conformation refers to the unchanging structure of your horse – the bones he was born with. Posture, however, can change, and is dictated by the muscles, tendons, ligaments and soft tissue (all holding the bones in place) and how your horse moves throughout his entire body. These soft tissues can align the body in a healthy way, or with unhealthy compensations if your horse has had to move in an unnatural way due to pain or restriction. A horse with poor posture might have an inverted/ewe neck, a sagging back, or stand with hindquarters out behind. Notice how your horse chooses to stand when loose in his stall or pasture.
Conformation doesn’t change, but posture can be improved – and having a saddle that works with your horse instead of against him is a key factor. The skeleton of your horse determines his conformation. When you compare his withers to the croup, is that skeletal structure uphill, level or downhill? Depending on the saddle, this may influence rider balance point. To get an accurate profile, have your horse stand squarely on level ground with his head and neck in neutral position. Step back about 10 ft., perpendicular to the mid-belly, and take a photo. Keep your camera level – it can help to have a horizontal reference behind your horse, such as a level fence board, roof line, etc. Look at the photo – is the top of the croup higher, lower, or even with the wither?