Conformation (4): More About Backs
Last month, when discussing the racehorse’s back, I pointed out that many two year olds are
‘croup high’ due to immaturity. Here’s another example:
A croup high filly by Exceed and Excel
By the age of three things have generally evened themselves out, and the back will have a more
level look to it, though some horses will always be a bit higher behind than in front. A level
back is an indication that the horse’s front and back ends are nicely balanced, with its strength
This lengthy colt by Fast Company has a level back
Occasionally you’ll see a racehorse with a slightly ‘dipped’ back; that is, when the back looks
slightly concave when viewed from the side. This can be a fault of conformation, but also an indication
that the horse is a bit backward in condition, and that his spinal and abdominal muscles are not
sufficiently toned to support the topline of the back. A dipped back is also associated with advancing
age, as the muscles gradually weaken, so it may sometimes be seen in a veteran hurdler or chaser.
A slightly dipped back
Take a look at the overall length of a horse’s back as it walks past on the far side of the paddock.
Is it short backed (often referred to as ‘close coupled’), or of medium length, or relatively long from
the withers to the croup (the highest part of the pelvis)?
An athletic, close-coupled colt by Red Ransom
The tendency is for sprinters to be close-coupled and for stayers to be comparatively long in the back.
Trainers may describe a lengthy, staying type of horse as ‘standing over a lot of ground’.
A lengthy colt by Royal Applause
More on sprinters and stayers next month.