Unsoundness is any deviation in structure in which it interferes with usefulness. Blemish and abnormalities may detract from appearance, but the horse may still be sound.
How does the horse behave to being groomed, saddled, trailered and ridden?
Faults in disposition will be indicated by the horse’s responses such as fidgeting, nervousness, pawing, nipping or biting, buckling or refusal to follow commands. A champion horse will exhibit superior conformation whether it is a halter horse, pleasure horse or performance horse. A horse's form is related directly to function. When certain qualities of conformation are limited, then a limitation in ability will occur.
Riding and Movement - Balance is the single most important trait; which is the even, smooth aesthetic blending of all muscles and parts. The stride should have a free flow and cover ground easily with a free flowing motion
Ride-ability for Purpose - A horse should walk, trot, lope and accept leads. The horse should be easily guided with mild or no resistance while responding to the riders commands from a beginner to an advanced rider. The horse should demonstrate quick response, smoothness, cooperative attitude to authority during maneuvers.
Disposition - A good disposition is one in which the horse remains tranquil under circumstances which conflict with its own desires when ridden by a rider it trusts. The horse understands that it must conserve his energy for tasks and does not waste it by jigging, head tossing, and fighting with the rider.
Temperament- is the horses “frame of mind”. Temperament can be observed by horses body language. Ideally a horse with a gentle nature and willingness to cooperate has a good temperament. A poor temperament can be observed during normally interactions of feeding, grooming, saddling; such as signs of nervousness, anxiety, agitation, jumpiness, bucking, pawing, biting, kicking or refusal to cooperate.
Intelligence - The intelligence of a horse is its trainability, ability to apply knowledge and use its own natural instincts to reason.
Vice or Bad Habit - A vice is usually an abnormal behavior that usually shows up in the barn or stable environment that results from confinement, improper management, or lack of exercise. A vice can affect a horse's usefulness, dependability, and health. A bad habit is considered to be an undesirable behavior that occurs during training or handling. Examples are cribbing, weaving, and self-mutilation. Examples are rearing, halter pulling, striking and kicking.
Health - State of complete physical, mental and well-being of a horse. Eating well and exercising to attain physical fitness and meet the tasks required. A healthy horse should be able to pass a vet exam.
Training - There are many interpretations of levels of a broke horse. Here are some levels of broke horse as defined by some trainers. Please use your skills in assessing where your horse fits.
Unbroken – A horse not comfortable around humans
Started- An uneducated horse learning about working with humans in a gentle manner.
Green Broke- a horse that has some of the basics and understands all of what is expected of the horse but has more riding experience in more situations
Finished- anything presented to the horse can be addressed mentally and emotionally in a quite manner so that the rider can work the horse and think his way through the situations in order to get to the desired result.