Friday, November 13, 2015

HAWKWARD: mystery of the missing conformation shots

You may (hopefully not) have noticed how I really don't share conformation shots of Courage anymore. It's not that I don't take them--I obsessively photograph pretty much everything this horse does.

It's just that he's only now starting to come out of a months-long ugly phase. You doubt?

July 2013
 Courage was a sexy beast on the track. I mean yeah, he's racing fit and all wrong for a sport horse, but I loved looking at him. So balanced.
October 2014
 We're going to skip the whole first year off the track because this post is about this year. And also--he wasn't very attractive. Part of the rebuilding process. This is a great shot by a fab photographer, annnnnnd yeah. Courage looks kind of tight and strange. His body is letting go and rebuilding, but it's not pretty.
November 2014
 Totally cheated on his neck here, but we had moments of looking kind of pretty. There's a good body balance going on.
January 2015
 Then we had winter break/start dressage annnnnnd. It's not pretty. This isn't a true conformation shot, but you can see that Courage is just sort of ick and muscles in weird places and slack in worse places and not very attractive at any point here. Yay star?
April 2015
 The positive here is that Courage's body is changing and I do like this photo better than the last one. The downside is that he's all long and lean with a big underneck muscle and no topline. He looks kind of tight all over.
May 2015
 Again, not a true conformation shot because I'm pretty sure I deleted everything from this time period. You really don't have to see the whole horse to get the picture though. Look how tight his walk stride is and how he holds himself. Even with the "optimal" pose, he just doesn't look... good? I mean. He's a 16.1 hand horse. His walk stride should be more than 2" long. It's not.

July 2015
 Another conformation shot by a really solid photographer and even white wraps and sparkle bell boots can't class it up. You can start to see Courage's body developing, but it's sort of gappy. He's building a butt and shoulders, but doesn't really have abs and his neck is sad--both short and upside down. He'd look a little better if he was fat, but this is an awkward stage, no two ways about it.
August 2015
 This picture starts to give me hope. You can see Courage is putting some weight on and his neck is less severely upside down. His whole topline looks looser and he looks pretty comfortable in his own skin.
October 2015

I took this picture to show off Courage's cute clip, and that's about what it does. You can see his whole body is looser and his neck isn't quite as skinny. He's definitely putting on some weight, which he needed. Again he looks comfortable, but not really attractive. It's a good thing his face is so cute, right?
November 2015

And then the other day, Courage was like "what if I tried looking like a dressage horse?" and decided to start eating every scrap of hay that was ever put in his stall. I think it's funny how fast his body can change, because it's obviously taken quite a long time to get to this point. I don't usually post pictures of a dirty horse standing in his stall, but all of a sudden we have muscle definition and abs and neck muscles and a real ass and he's just so sexy and curvy everywhere. I mean yeah. Lots of things need to keep improving, but he looks like a horse someone might want to own finally.

November 2015
 In case my walk picture didn't make sense earlier, here it is now. Notice the sexy curves and the way Courage is moving. His feet can actually leave the ground. His stride is longer. His coat is gleaming and his body can actually move. His neck is starting to have some nice dressage muscle and I really like looking at this picture.

excessive satin ftw

 This is the closest I have to a conformation shot right now, but just look at the difference. His neck still isn't 100% correct, but it's filling in. Because he doesn't have (as much) of the overly-pronounced under neck muscle, it's starting to relax down and look longer. His whole body is filling in and he can stand in balance without looking tight or uncomfortable.

We haven't "arrived" yet, but I'm sanguine that we're pulling out of the year-long (plus) ugly phase. I have to keep reminding myself that we're completely rebuilding a body that spent 6 years doing the opposite of what I'm asking for now. Courage has made HUGE strides forward in his training this fall, and I'm really excited to share what he looks like in the spring. :-) (Hopefully.)


  1. Such a handsome horse even when you think his body is ugly...possibly you were western sport horse person in a previous life;) All the muscles and curves over there;)

  2. Courage, I can personally empathize! It's slow going getting them curves in all the right places! ;) I've also dealt with similar top line struggles with Pongo too since we've been so on/off in the past well,...forever. Fun to see your awesome progression!

  3. he looks wonderful! i hate the ugly phases... so demotivating!! my mare has been in a serious one for... a while now ugh. hopefully dressage bootcamp this winter (combined with saddles that actually fit, maybe?) will make a difference?

  4. I think you're a bit rough on the C-rage -- I think he looks great in lots of those pics! Though I am not quite as fond of a plump horse as you may be.

  5. This gives me hope! Theo's going through an ugly phase right now while he's reshaping muscles. No topline, heavy underside of the neck, it's a mess. Hopefully we'll be able to have confirmation pictures again come spring.

  6. I agree you were a bit harsh on him in a few places, I think he still looks like a classy horse even when you can tell he's not in his prime. Good thing he can't read ;-) For how athletically bred the TB's are I've been a little surprised at how long it's taking my horse to put on muscle, granted we aren't doing as much tough dressaging as you guys!


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