Stallion Owners: Show Conformation Photos

Thoroughbred stallion Precipitation in 1933
Photographer unknown, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Attention stallion owners: Mare owners want to see conformation photos!

This is from an interesting thread in a Facebook group. It started with a question from Kelli Anne Castaldo: “Is it just me or does anyone else seem to have a hard time finding good conformation photos of stallions?” These were some of the responses:

“When a stallion owner doesn’t show a conformation photo, it makes me wonder if there is something they just don’t want to show….”

—Kelli Anne Castaldo

“[I also like to see] free movement. I like to see how they move naturally without human influence/riding.”

—Samantha Terry

“[I want to see] current conformation photos that reflect how they have matured from their approvals. I want to see the status of hind quarters and if their ligaments and tendons are sturdy. I want to see appropriate muscling for their level of training and condition. DSLD and related conditions and PSSM variations are just two degenerative conditions that are common in warmbloods. Photos of horses before around age 8 may not show the degeneration. These conditions can’t be detected with genetic testing at this point and you need to see the conformation, condition, and movement of the horse to see if they are in good shape for their age.” 

—Pat Orgas

In a followup conversation with me by email, Kelli had these additional comments,

“I truly believe that a good conformation photo is one of the most important things mare owners like to see, when choosing a stud. Competition record is a huge factor but if the horse isn’t built well, how is it supposed to hold up to the constant pressures of sport? Good conformation is the foundation of a great horse, that’s why it’s looked at so closely at breed inspections. These pictures can help mare owners chose stallions with better traits or more desirable traits. For an example, think about the differences between the older, heavier boned stallions vs the more modern and refined stallions. That’s a style preference and mare owners take that into consideration. Mare owners need these pictures in order to make these decisions. The whole backbone of breeding is to improve things in our stock, and being able to actually physically go and evaluate these animals is not always an option. These pictures make that possible. They are worth their weight in gold. Someone else in the thread mentioned keeping these pictures current and it makes sense. Seeing changes in the body is something you want to look at. There is research coming out that kissing spine is genetic, and being able to see a horse, that as they aged were diagnosed with it, may be a game changer for mare owners. And that is just one of the many degenerative issues that are relevant. I understand these photos are not easy to obtain and take a few people to get. But they really help mare owners out.”

—Kelli Anne Castaldo

Takeaway for stallion owners: Mare owners would like to see conformation photos as well as under saddle photos and free movement video. If the stallion is above age 8 or so, update the conformation photo to a recent one, to show his current conformation, even if he’s no longer in show condition.

Thank you to the mare owners who contributed to the Facebook conversation and gave us permission to compile their words into this article!

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One Reply to “Stallion Owners: Show Conformation Photos”

  1. Sarah McCarthy

    Conformation pictures are very important, and they are most valuable when fairly standardized. It can also be difficult to get good ones.

    I am unlikely to be very interested in a stallion without a good conformation picture.

    And I say all of this from the point of view of a mare owner, a stallion owner, a veterinarian, and a photographer.


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