Conformation Clinic

2-year-old Quarter Horse Fillies


James Heird

Jim Heird, PhD, is the executive professor and coordinator for the Equine Initiative at Texas A&M University in College Station. An AQHA judge since 1976, he’s been chair of AQHA’s show committee and show council, judges committee, and the international committee. At the 2015 AQHA Convention, he was elected to the executive committee. In 1995 and 2003, he was part of an AQHA task force that developed guidelines for halter judging. He’s conducted conformation seminars for AQHA and the Color Breed Council, as well as the Arabian horse judges’ workshops. He’s given other lectures and seminars on the topic nationally and internationally. He’s judged 13 AQHA World Shows and multiple international championships.

This month, for a different perspective, we’ll focus on the hindquarters conformation of these 2-year-old Quarter Horse fillies. It’s difficult to judge a horse based on the hindquarters, because balance starts at the shoulder and affects the stifle and the turnover to the croup. However, I do look for some specific qualities in a horse’s hind end that’ll affect her overall balance and athleticism. 

A horse should have a long hip and croup that exhibits a long stifle appearance when viewed from the side. There should be nice angle to the hip; it shouldn’t be too flat or upright. A hip with a strong, square appearance will allow a horse to be athletic. 

Hock height will vary depending on overall height of the horse, but it shouldn’t be so high as to cause excessive stress on soft-tissue structure or predispose the horse to unsoundness over time. The hock angle should be such that a straight line can be drawn from the point of her buttocks, pass through the point of her hock, run parallel to her cannon bone, and stop at the back of her hoof. If a mare is sickle hocked, her cannon bone is set too far forward of this ideal imaginary line. If her hocks are too straight, she’s post legged: her hoof is set too far back and in some cases is so severe that the line passes through the cannon. Usually, this is the result of a very straight hock angle. 

A horse’s pastern angle should complement the angle in her hip as well as her stifle, which would ideally match her shoulder angle if her front end were to be examined. 

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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