How to Be a Smart Thoroughbred Owner

By C. Anne Baker

You may be buying a thoroughbred racehorse or you may be buying a share of a horse in a horse racing partnership or syndicate. Whichever you choose, you need to know exactly what your investment is getting you. This means learning about more than just the policies of your partnership, the cost of your initial share and the monthly fees. You must understand how to get the best investment horse.

Do you understand what the horse?s conformation is? Would you be able to decide whether it was unacceptable for racing? If you don?t already know, conformation is the body shape. The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association recommends studying a horse's intelligence, balance, athletic abilities, and bone structure. Here are the four categories of attributes you should be looking at:

1. Balance is a measure of how well proportioned the horse is. Its frame and muscle should be suited for each other.

2. To judge bone structure look at the horse and decide whether it looks substantial enough and not too lightweight.

3. Intelligence - Does the horse seem in control, aware of its surroundings, alert?

4. Athleticism - Does the horse look physically fit and capable?

Here are a few specific flaws in conformation that you should be aware of:

* Back at the knee means that the horse has knee joints that sit too far back, adding stress and risk to the knees. The horse may suffer from torn tendons or ligaments or from chipped bones with this condition.

* Toeing in is when stride is affected by the front feet sloping inward.

* Toeing out is when the horses feet are sloping outward. This can be a serious problem that can cause falls and injuries. With this condition, the horse's legs may hit each other when he runs.

* Pig eyes is an obvious condition that means the horse's eyes are too small and too close together, impairing the horse's vision.

* Sway back is a weak, long back that makes saddling properly a difficult task and will cause soreness.

There is no perfectly conformed horse, but, it's important to look horses over and find one with the best combination of conformation. The horse with the best conformation will be the best horse to invest in. Possible conformation problems include:

* Horses with no intelligence will not be easy to train and may never obey the jockey.

* If the horse is not physically fit or has a health problem, it will not be capable of racing, much less winning.

* If a horse's bone structure is too dense, there is a higher probability of injury.

* If the horse's body isn't proportioned properly, their speed and balance could be adversely affected.

Conformation comes from genetics. Study each horse and look for the best one possible. This will result in a horse with good breeding that has a real chance to win.

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