Conformation Clinic

5-year-old Arabian mares


Jim Hitt

Jim Hitt is a regional and national Arabian horse judge, having held an AHA judge’s card for 15 years. He also holds an NRHA card, judging working Western classes at Arabian shows, in addition to other performance and halter classes.

For the past 22 years, he and his wife, Linda, have owned and operated Gambel Oaks Equestrian Center, a training facility in Elizabeth, Colorado. They keep about 60 horses, and though there’s a mix of breeds and disciplines at Gambel Oaks, he and Linda, who also has an NRHA card, lean toward reining and the Western disciplines.

The Hitts have helped collegiate judging teams such as those of Colorado State University and the University of Wyoming by providing their facility, horses, and knowledge for student practice. The couple also has worked with 4-H judging teams.

The USEF rulebook states that when adjudicating Arabian breeding horses, “Emphasis shall be placed in the following order of importance: type, conformation, suitability as a breeding animal, quality, movement, substance, manners, and presence.”

Arabian type, as defined in the same rulebook, includes a relatively small head, with a profile straight or slightly concave below the eyes; small muzzle with large nostrils; large, expressive, wide-set eyes; deep jowls; and small, well-shaped ears. The neck should be long, arched, and run well back into moderately high withers. The back should be short, and the croup comparatively horizontal, with a natural high tail carriage.

Though these mares lack the type and quality typically found in a mare breeding class at an Arabian show, they, like any horse of any breed, can be evaluated individually, and comparatively ranked based on their positive and negative structural and breed traits.

No matter the breed, good balance is good balance, and good or correct conformation is good or correct conformation. Overall balance, straight legs, good angles fore and rear, substance, and quality are really the same from breed to breed, with a few breed-type characteristics to be accounted for.

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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