Basic Conformation: Head and Neck

If you saw my last conformation post about basic balance, then you know that this semester I am taking a Equine Biomechanics and Conformation class and I decided to share my new knowledge with my readers. I am thinking that this is going to turn into a mini-series of sorts.

Now that we have evaluated our horse’s balance and overall body proportions, it is time to get a little more specific, starting with the head and neck. Again, “ideal” refers to the general preferences in most breeds. There are always exceptions.

Head Proportions

Ideal – The distance from poll to muzzle should be one and half times the distance from eye to eye. The head should be in proportion to the rest of the body.

Ax – His head length and width turned out to be perfect. Unfortunately, his head is not proportional to his body, it is much smaller.


Head Features

Ideal – In most breeds, a straight profile is desired with the main exceptions of Arabians and draft breeds. Eyes should be large, round, and prominent. Ears should be set just below the poll and in proportion to the head. The cheek should be proportional to the head.

Ax – For Ax’s breed, a straight profile is what is desired and he has that covered. His eyes are large and not deep-set, his ears are tiny to fit his tiny head, and jowls are pretty proportional to the rest of his head.


Neck Length

Ideal – The neck should be about 1/3 of the horse’s overall length from nose to tail. 

Ax – His neck is a little less than a third of his body but only slightly. This one is a little harder to measure since they can shorten and lengthen their neck.


Neck Proportions

Ideal – Should have a long upper curve just behind the head and a shallow lower curve in the bones that joins the withers. Variations considered as faults include a ewe neck, swan neck, straight neck, and cresty neck. 

Ax – I would say Ax is pretty close to perfect. His neck could meet his withers a little smoother, but that is it. Not too cresty, not too straight, and curved in all the right places.


Be sure to send me the link if you evaluate your horse’s conformation along with us!


Published by Terisé

• New England Equestrian Blogger • • Photographer • • Editor •

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