Photo by the WestfalianVerband
Deprice by Damon Hill x Frühlingsball x Milan
Champion Elite Mare Westfalia 2008
The Westfalian Elite Mare Inspection an the common outcry for lonleggishness...
my letter to the editorial that has been published by the monthly german breeder's magazin "Züchterforum " 09/08 in full length and also by the monthly westfalian verband's magazin "Reiter und Pferde in Westfalen" 10/08 (in brief version) - time for an english translation...
The common outcry for longleggishness is being conjured all over the place - loudly, often, whenever there is a micro at hand - so it was at the recent Westfalian Elite Mare Inspection, so it is to be heard at any auction, licensing and whenever it is time to praise the "modern sport horse" - longelggishness is desired and more so....
The question arises by the thoughtful breeder:
why is this?
As often you would wish for some reasonable reflection from the person with
the mic in it's hands since the impression inflicts on the thoughtful breeder
that something is going heavily wrong in the state of Denmark [Shakespeare]
since it seems that the lable of longleggishenss is being risen to a status quo
of itself just that noone notices it...
A valuable reasoning of functional comprehension for this feature has never been given - neither quietly, nor loudly outspoken via any mic.
As a matter of fact:
It would be damn hard to find a valuable reason for longleggishness as such in a horse since that would mean to reenvent the horse from what it is.
By nature the horse is a running animal, a fligth animal - the only gift
nature has equipped it with in order to save it's survival.
In contradiction, the horse is NOT designed to be a beast of burden or a pack animal - as that is simply not what nature has designed it for.
It only reflects what man has turned it in to - a riding horse, a modern sport tool of flashy looks, nowadays.
Having come a long way form evolution the running creature "horse" served as a draft and pack animal in ancient history - only the most recent military history (european cavallery in the 18th and 19th century) developed reasonable guidelines to make use of the horse as a riding horse. These guidelines were well thought of and greatly fine tuned and developed during the course of history in order to suit the horses physical anatomie best to make sure they grow and stay healthy for as long as they can while under saddle and serving their human master - why?
Because horses were precious and valueable and it was selfunderstood that the training of a young horses needed to ensure one thing in the first place:
long life endurance.
The necessary training turning the horse into a creature of carrying weight goes along with its individual physical development in order to not destroy any given horse earlier than necessary - make sure you develop the carrying skills of any given horse step by step, year by year, reasonable training according to the individual maturity of each horse being employed - only then you could be sure each and every horse would be able to serve as a preciously demanded riding and cavallerie horse as long as possible - the pyramid of training scale was born.
Since by nature the horse is not a weight carrying animal the desired ability to carry weight needs to be developed in the first place by transforming the natural given "push" power (the power to speed up immediately and run away) into desired power of carriage.
However, it is in the nature of things that carrying elements grow LESS stable the higher you build them up.
Evenmore less stable the higher the leverage you add (long legs coming along with high set joints create high leverage).
Thus, the desire for longleggish horses against the nature of elements somewhat sounds absurd. And it doesn't take a sky rocket physician to understand this logic.
If you now add the principles of "swing" to this equation (since "swing" all through the body is the highest preposition asked in order to convert "push" power into "carrying" power) not only the sky rocket physician suddenly starts shivering. It is ridicolous as it is a contrary in itself.
Common sense should teach us that the principles of carrying something safe and loose (suppleness!!!) at the same time simply don't allow for buildng any such construction up high and leveraged.
If furthermore, such modern horses come along as narrow breasted chickens (well to be seen in most of the popular models at licensings or breeding inspections) it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone anymore to understand that exactly these horses make up for outspoken models of beauty and conformation when shown in hand or running around loose - but what about later on?
What happens to high up and narrow breasted models when asked to carry weight and prove under saddle?
What about collecting and leveraging such constructions beyond their natural given limits when it comes to really carry themselves?
The comparison to super models on the catwalk comes to mind - highleggish and narrow breasted, great to look at when walking around loose - but what happens to super models if asked to do real work?
Carry weight, that is?
I can hear them groan and moan loud trying to refuse the burden - sounds familiar?
Well, it should:
as this is exactly what happens to unnaturally created horses of outspoken longeleggishness when being asked the hard work - and you can't even blame them for that. Since they are simply not desinged for it.
Yet everybody cheers for them loudly.
I wonder why.
These are the horses who at best deserve non perfoming awards (in hand show titles) but if they ever will deliver performance of excellence under saddle is yet to prove. And i am still waiting for the longleggish modern sport horse to perform best at the Olympics or any other show circuits of international performance.
Sense and meaningful importance really are in question when demanding longleggishness.
What do we want to achieve when breeding the "modern" sport horse?
Highly leveraged and starkicking in hand show horses or riding horses along the goals of old and traditional breeding principals?
Principals which owed to our statutes of traditional breeding progress have delivered us the perfect sport horse already in the last decades, an ideal that needs little, if any, improvement at all.
Reasonable refinement is a very useful thing - but raising a non naturally given tribut (longleggishness) to a status quo that only serves itself is something completely different.
In order to refine warmblood breeders all around the world usually apply thouroughbred horses. But even tb horses usually come along in a healthy rectangled shape - the fact that they are being considered "longleggish" is usually derived from the fact that they are of lesser girth depth than warmblood breeds.
A question of healthy relation rather than a question of physics.
And if i now look at the current Westfalian Champion Elite Mare my heart cheers loudly - since this horse comprises more than any other horse the ideals of a well constructed safely balanced and well rhythmed sport horse of all days: she proves better than any other horse that our traditional goals of warmblood breeding do succeed when being obeyed - this is an outstandingly and powerfully swung through horse of excellence equipped with a back that simply invites to sit on it and explore the feeling of a naturally well swung through movement carried all through the horse... A deep set horse and I couldn't get my eyes off her. She almost made me cry.
Natural cadence is what we call this. Since when it is set deeply it simply carries stable.
And i wonder how long it takes since we start crying out loudly for "deeper set" horses on the mic - since longleggishness simply mustn't mutate to an end in itself. but we are on our best way into it.
My cordial congratulations go to the breeder's family Laumann in Greven having produced such a grand mare who after all even descends from a pure traditional westfalian damline free of longleggishness and any other doubtful tributes of modern outcome. And along with my cheer goes the hope that some of the people who applauded with me at her last tuesday finally start thinking about the fact if this horse, if it was only set "higher" (longleggish), would still come along in such a desirable manner that made us all cheer...
Münster, July 2008