Conformation or Posture? – Animals Back 2 Balance
When equine conformation is discussed, it is often interchanged with the term posture. So in order to identify the difference, the question must be asked – what defines conformation and what defines posture?
Conformation refers to the basic physical structure the horse is born with. Posture is how the horse organises itself or stands. The biggest difference between the two is that conformation cannot be changed but posture can.
Posture is influenced by many factors including; injury, poor training, hoof imbalances, ill-fitting tack and dental problems. The horse learns to compensate for these forces being placed on the body by altering it’s posture, resulting in a change in biomechanics. This constant compensation causes different muscle groups to become contracted or tightened, which then pulls on the skeletal structure, causing extra stress to the joints and nerves throughout the body.
If these postural imbalances are ignored or go undetected, then they compound and become more serious problems. The first detectable signs of compensation might be a change in behaviour when ridden. Facial expressions can be observed to identify if the horse is showing any signs of pain or discomfort.
By learning to identify the difference between conformation and posture, horse owners and professionals can work together to restore balance and posture to improve, not only the horse’s performance but health & welfare too.
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