Croup High

Summary: This article, "Croup High, Imperfect or Not?"will help you understand the conformation of the croup and how it applies to ease of training and correctness of conformation in horses.

What is good conformation for a riding horse or Andalusian as far as the croup goes? 

Well, first of all, what is the croup? 

According to Cherry Hill, "The croup is measured from the lumbosacral joint (approximately indicated by the peak above and slightly behind the points of hip) to the tail head. The croup should be fairly long as this is associated with a good length to the hip and a desirable, forward-placed lumbosacral joint. The slope to the croup will depend on the breed and use. Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds traditionally have round croups; Arabs and Warmbloods have flat croups."

Sharon Parker, Andalusian horse expert, explains why a horse that is croup high (croup appears higher than the withers) may not make the ideal riding horse.

The reader asked, "My new horse has a top line that is far from perfect. She is a bit high in the back end. What are the advantages or disadvantages of this type of conformation? Are there any exercises that can help my mare?"

Sharon's answer was simple and direct. She explained it the following way:
There are 3 basic conformations of the top line. Withers high, level, and croup high. Withers high is the ideal riding horse. It predisposes the horse to work from the rear and lift the front end in lightness, which is the ideal of all under saddle work. It minimizes soundness issues in the front legs. The level top line is actually a driving horse, but can pinch hit as a riding horse without too much difficulty. We frequently see this in today's competitive dressage arena. 

The croup high conformation is actually for racing. This is the build that allows top speed, but such a horse has great difficulty changing it's balance to make a good riding horse. This build predisposes a ridden horse to front leg lameness issues if not worked correctly. I'm aware that cutting and reining QH people seem to prefer this conformation, but am not knowledgeable in those areas to be able to comment about them. 

The croup high issue can also be a training rather than a conformation issue. With hand riding, it is quite possible to make a horse so heavy that they drop in the front. I have personally seen such mature horses "grow" as much as 2 inches after a year or so of correct training, becoming withers high instead of croup high. 

Many people take croup high horses and ask them to perform as riding horses, but your problems are built in. Exercises such as correct transitions between and within gaits and lateral work will strengthen your horse and encourage her to lift in the front, but she will never reach the possibilities of the horse who starts out high in front. 

In the Andalusian, I would consider being croup high a fault, since these are riding and driving horses. We have to remember, though, that these are very slow maturing horses. This means we can judge this quality in a horse only after 8 years old, or by a close study of mature relatives.

Thanks to Sharon Parker for helping us to post this article.

Article Credit:

Sharon Parker
Andaluz de Arion
Mayport, PA 

Skyhorse Ranch - Andalusian horse breeder in Texas with Andalusian horses for sale. Breeders of PRE Pura Raza Espanola horses with cartas from Spain. Selling black, grey, and bay Andalusians. Recommend Andalusian stallions at stud. Pictures, history, facts, and info. Spanish Andalusian horse farm. Bloodlines from Spain in the USA.

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