Conformation Clinic

Quarter Horse Ranch Pleasure Geldings


Marvin Kapushion

Marvin Kapushion was raised on his family’s cattle and Quarter Horse ranch, and has longtime experience with working-type horses in and out of the competitive arena. He and his wife, Sue, have been training horses at their facility in Whitewater, Colorado, for 30 years in a variety of disciplines, including roping, reining, ranch and Western pleasure, and trail. They’ve produced high finishers at world and national AQHA, APHA, and ApHC events. Marvin holds judging cards with AQHA, ApHC, APHA, and NSBA.

The most exciting part of the ranch pleasure class is that any good-minded, athletic horse can be competitive—bar any specific body style. So, for this class, as with any discipline, the most important quality is balance. First, I divide a horse into three parts: in front of the withers; from withers to front of the loin; and behind the loin. These three parts should be correct by themselves, and should also be balanced compared to one another. The length of the hip should match the length of the neck (from poll to withers) as well as the length of the heartgirth. This allows a horse to have good self-carriage. 

Then, the key to conformation is the set of the shoulder; if the withers are in the right place (above mid-shoulder), the rest of the body typically follows suit. Withers set far enough back will provide good slope of the shoulder, which will influence the length of the back. If these qualities are present and the depth of the hip is adequate, a horse will be athletic. Levelness is also important, both across the back and from knee to hock.

In ranch pleasure we ask a horse to go over poles, lengthen and stride out in three gaits, stop, change leads, and turn. A balanced horse can get underneath himself and stop, extend at the trot, and get his legs over one another to turn around. Excessive length, especially in his back, will cause a horse to have trouble stopping and turning around. A good mind is important for this class, too, because you’re negotiating different patterns with a variety of obstacles. When I can’t interact with the horse, I look at softness and set of the eye, instead. A big eye and attractive head are most appealing. 

Now you be the judge!

Instruction: Evaluate and place these in your order of preference. Simply click each photo from the left and place it in the corresponding placement to the right. Once you've made your decision, hit the button below and see how well you did compared to our expert judge!
First Place Here
Second Place Here
Third Place Here

To submit a photo of your horse to be evaluated in Conformation Clinic, send us a left-side profile photo of your horse (for digital photos: high-resolution, 300 dpi, in at least 3" x 5") to with your contact info and your horse's breed, age, gender, and height. (We welcome all breeds!) Visit for additional instructions.

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