While inspecting horses for conformation, whether for a purchase or to compete in horse judging competitions, it’s necessary to break things down into fundamental principles to prevent being overwhelmed when piecing together the overall picture. Balance, structural correctness, method of going, muscling, and breed/sex character are the five primary factors to examine when examining a horse’s conformation (also known as type).


When studying a horse, balance is undoubtedly the most important factor to consider. The horse’s bone structure determines balance, which is important for both quality of movement and performance in any event. Balance refers to an even distribution of muscling and weight from the front to the back of the horse, as well as from the top to the bottom and side to side. Balance, on the other hand, is defined not by the horse’s weight but by the proper angles and proportions of various body components. To put it another way, a horse can be light-bodied or heavy-bodied and yet be balanced if its bone structure allows for equal weight distribution. The horse’s balance allows it to carry itself in a way that allows for easier manoeuvrability, more power, and smoother movement.

Correctness of structure

For soundness as well as proper and clean movement, structural correctness is essential. The appropriate structure and alignment of bone, particularly in the legs, determines this. The way a horse moves is influenced by structural correctness, which is strongly linked to balance.

The horse’s style of going, often known as tracking, relates to how it moves. The horse’s cleanliness and movement quality are both assessed.


Muscling is a factor to consider when appraising a horse, but it isn’t as vital as balance and structural soundness. When looking at the horse from the sides, front, and back, the quantity, quality, and distribution of muscle are assessed.

Characteristics of breed and sex

The breed and sex character (or “type”) of a horse refers to how effectively it represents its breed and sex. Most breeds have distinguishing characteristics that can be used to identify them. When you judge a horse by its type, you’re evaluating how closely it resembles the breed’s ideal horse. Depending on the horse’s expectations, this may or may not be significant. To be competitive in many performance competitions, horses do not have to represent a specific breed or sex effectively. This criteria, on the other hand, is critical for horses competing in halter contests.