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Xenith
09-13-2013, 02:50 PM
Hi all,

I'm after some suggestions on things that might make a horse look ugly without affecting his health & soundness. Scruffy coat, skinny neck sort of thing.

(I should add his colour is solid & legs are good.)

mirandashell
09-13-2013, 03:05 PM
Proportion. If his proportions are out of whack, like his back legs are very slighter longer than his front legs, then he will look ugly.

usuallycountingbats
09-13-2013, 03:13 PM
The trouble is, the way a horse looks inherently affects its soundness and is a good indicator of its health - well it is to anyone who knows about horses! That's not to say a horse with what would be considered less than perfect conformation can't also be sound, healthy and work at a high level. Opposition Buzz is a horse no-one would pick out as a shining example of a well put together animal, and yet he's been a stalwart of Team GBR eventing for years and has completed a load of 4* events.

Can you give me a bit more background on the horse such as what its job is going to be and what sort of horse it is, and why it needs to look unhealthy? Then I can think of a few ways in which it can look bad and yet still be ok!

For example - if a horse has a head which is a bit disproportionately big, with long ears, it might be functionally totally sound but might never pick up top marks in dressage because the overall picture just isn't that pleasing.

Also, if you go back and look through the Fugly Horse of The Day blog (which was much better before it got sold), there are heaps of pictures of seriously unattractive equines. Of course a lot of them also aren't sound - or wouldn't stand up to any kind of work.

One of my horses was really not attractive when I bought her - underweight, lacking muscle etc, but her basic conformation was good, and now she's had some correct work for 8/9 months she looks utterly different.

usuallycountingbats
09-13-2013, 03:17 PM
Proportion. If his proportions are out of whack, like his back legs are very slighter longer than his front legs, then he will look ugly.

That will affect his soundness though, because he will constantly be on the forehand, and if you ask him to wok more correctly and take his weight behind, then you'll inevitably end up with lameness issues, probably stemming from the sacroiliac joint and the hocks. If you don't ask him to work correctly then his working life will likely be shorter, even if you don't realise that. It's why good horse people value conformation so highly.

Sorry, I hope that didn't sound argumentative! Just that if the OP is really looking for something which won't affect soundness, then they need something which isn't conformational.

Actually, a wall eye is considered pretty ugly in some circles - although you don't really get them in solid colour horses, so that's perhaps not very helpful.

Fenika
09-13-2013, 03:44 PM
Large ears, a disproportionate neck, a thin mane, tail, forelock. There are also breed differences and if the people in the story arent used to that, it would be ugly. The dished face of the arabian (assuming it was otherwise ugly too, since arabians are refined). A roman nose. A fat bulky head.

Cosmetic issues, scars, lack of hair. Some people hate a blue eye with a white face, and you can have one eye blue and one normal with a crooked blaze.

Parrot mouth, bull mouth. Over at the knees might not affect soundness. A low croup like many drafties have- still sound. Hunter bump. High whithers. Ewe neck.

A new color might be ugly. Loud pintos, washed out grey, palamino, lackluster brown, whatever is unusual for the setting.

buz
09-13-2013, 04:11 PM
At the place I learned to ride, they used to have a pony with a disproportionately large head, a Roman nose (which made his head look even bigger), stumpy lil' legs, and an old injury to his face that left him with a giant weird scar and no eye on the left side.

He was pretty ugly, and he was a badass in the field, but he was a sweetheart under saddle...;)

JimmyB27
09-13-2013, 04:15 PM
Bad dress sense?


:nothing

Alessandra Kelley
09-13-2013, 04:36 PM
Also, if you go back and look through the Fugly Horse of The Day blog (which was much better before it got sold), there are heaps of pictures of seriously unattractive equines. Of course a lot of them also aren't sound - or wouldn't stand up to any kind of work.


I thought the Fugly Horse of the Day focused on abused and maltreated horses, not ones which just happened to be ugly.

I think an ugly face is probably safe.

usuallycountingbats
09-13-2013, 04:44 PM
I thought the Fugly Horse of the Day focused on abused and maltreated horses, not ones which just happened to be ugly.

I think an ugly face is probably safe.

Well, mostly it focused on idiotic people doing idiotic things with horses, which were often too young or too crippled to do anything useful. The target was the people not the horses. Breeding from comically badly put together mares and stallions was a particular favourite.

But the site had plenty of pictures of said badly put together horses, which is the point!

I suppose the crux of this post is, does the OP want the horse to be superficially ugly but then become attractive, or is continued ugliness the aim? Because that would dictate whether you use something like a wall eye or roman nose vs a head which looks disproportionately big because the horse lacks muscle etc.

Xenith
09-13-2013, 05:00 PM
That was quick. A big head & Roman nose, and high withers will work well, along with some coat & mane problems. Thank you all!

I did have the problem with looking at pictures online that they mostly showed neglected/unhealthy horses. It was getting very depressing.

(Background for the cuious: he's an early Australian stock horse (mostly Thoroughbred with Arabian, Clydesdale, Timor pony, Cleveland Bay, whatever else happened to be about thrown in) who nobody wants because he's lazy & ugly. But the MC adores him because he's a Horse and he responds to the adoration by trying to do his horsey best. I didn't mean to write a horse as a important supporting character but he sort of took over. So I will probably be back with more questions soon enough as I sort out the niggly details.)

melindamusil
09-13-2013, 08:47 PM
The trouble is, the way a horse looks inherently affects its soundness and is a good indicator of its health - well it is to anyone who knows about horses! That's not to say a horse with what would be considered less than perfect conformation can't also be sound, healthy and work at a high level. Opposition Buzz is a horse no-one would pick out as a shining example of a well put together animal, and yet he's been a stalwart of Team GBR eventing for years and has completed a load of 4* events.


Bats, what about horses like Seabiscuit? I've read that Seabiscuit was not an attractive horse, but obviously he did okay. (Disclaimer- I know very little about horse conformation. I would just love to hear your thoughts on this.)

Fenika
09-13-2013, 09:26 PM
If you look at other station breds you will see plenty of poorly proportioned animals, along with a few diamonds.

usuallycountingbats
09-13-2013, 10:33 PM
Bats, what about horses like Seabiscuit? I've read that Seabiscuit was not an attractive horse, but obviously he did okay. (Disclaimer- I know very little about horse conformation. I would just love to hear your thoughts on this.)

I'll confess my knowledge base is sports horses rather than race horses. I think with Seabiscuit it was less that he wasn't attractive and more that he was a) a bit small for a racehorse and b) didn't live up to his breeding, at least initially until he switched trainers. Man O'War, his grandsire, is widely considered to be one of the top racehorses of all time. When something doesn't live up to the hype, it's easy to dismiss it as a bit ugly! There's probably people out there who know more about racehorses than me who can enlighten you further though!

melindamusil
09-13-2013, 11:08 PM
I'll confess my knowledge base is sports horses rather than race horses. I think with Seabiscuit it was less that he wasn't attractive and more that he was a) a bit small for a racehorse and b) didn't live up to his breeding, at least initially until he switched trainers. Man O'War, his grandsire, is widely considered to be one of the top racehorses of all time. When something doesn't live up to the hype, it's easy to dismiss it as a bit ugly! There's probably people out there who know more about racehorses than me who can enlighten you further though!

You still know more than I do! I suppose that some of Seabiscuit's failings have also probably been exaggerated as a part of his legend - you know, we love to root for the underdog (or underhorse). Thanks!!

usuallycountingbats
09-13-2013, 11:17 PM
You still know more than I do! I suppose that some of Seabiscuit's failings have also probably been exaggerated as a part of his legend - you know, we love to root for the underdog (or underhorse). Thanks!!

That's true, we really do! Racehorses in the USA these days don't actually need to be that sound because as I understand it, a lot of the drugs which you can't use in te UK are totally legal in the US, like Bute for example. That wouldn't be true of Seabiscuit though.

Brutal Mustang
09-14-2013, 12:59 AM
That was quick. A big head & Roman nose, and high withers will work well, along with some coat & mane problems. Thank you all!

High withers is generally a desirable horse trait. Keeps the saddle from sliding forward. However, a skinny neck and swayed-back creates the illusion of grotesquely high withers.

Now lazy horses, as you describe your MC's horse as being, are generally smart horses. I know, because I own the laziest mustang on Earth, and she comes up with the cleverest ways of conserving calories, as well as consuming more calories. Lazy horses can surprisingly make good distance horses, because when they've had enough, they'll slow way down. Energetic horses rarely know when they've had enough, and will run themselves into lameness or metabolic issues. The biggest issue your character will have with a lazy horse is creating rules, and firmly enforcing them. Rules like, 'If you don't trot forward at the tap of my calves, you're gonna get a touch of spur.' And when the lazy horse does obey to forward cues, it's important to reward them by easing off them, and letting them walk awhile before they initiate the decrease in speed. It takes stubbornness, patience, and consistency to improve a lazy horse. Few human personalities can make one perform. Non-assertive people, or impatient people are disastrous with such horses. Just thought you should know, because if your character can make a lazy horse work for them, it's very telling about them.

Hope I was helpful.

veinglory
09-14-2013, 01:08 AM
Some people think certain colors are ugly, like yellow dun.

Ziast
09-14-2013, 02:26 AM
Ugly for me would be a roman nose, long ears, short neck, sway back, over at the knees, upright stifle with sickle hocks. And pigeon toed.

Oh dear... I think I just described a friend's horse...

shaldna
09-15-2013, 01:17 PM
as other have said, some of the things that will make a horse look 'ugly' - such as being out of proportion - will influcene the horses soundness and way of going.

However, there are some things that aren't necessarily the end of the world when it comes to soundness, but which will make a horse look weird. For instance, young horses commonly have a higher rump than withers which can make them look like they are running downhill. A larger or smaller than average head can also throw the eye, as can a roman nose. Some people have a thing about wall eyes, which can look bad, but aren't anything to worry about.

A horse that dishes can look bad as well, but dishing doesn't have an impact on soundness, it just looks bad - dishing is when the horse throws it's legs sideways when it takes a step, making a circular motion with each step. It's really common and often horses only do it with one leg which can make it look worse. Sometimes it can make the horse look like it's lame when it's not.

Likewise, turning in, or out is very common and will make the horse look gangly and unco-ordinated but isn't the end of the world and won't, in all but the most extreme cases, impact soundness. I have a hunter who was born with pretty extreme cow hocks - this is where the back legs are twisted in towards each other so his hocks are almost touching. Over time they straightened out a little, but one leg is still very twisted. He's completely sound though and it's never been a problem for his career.

Also, a horse can be base narrow or base wide - this is where the horses front legs are either too close together or too far apart. Too close is a much bigger problem as it can lead to brushing injuries and stress fractures on the outside of the legs.

A horse that is very long in the back can look weird, but again, those horses can have a lot of trouble with weak backs and an increased occurance of wobblers, which is a disorder of the spinal chord which causes paralysis of the hind legs.

That said, in a horse with a very short back the rider's weight is further back and on the kidneys, which can cause all sorts of other problems.

In minor things, a badly coloured coat, boxy head, scrubby coat etc can make a horse look bad. A couple of years ago one of my horses rubbed off most of his mane overnight. He looked awful.

shaldna
09-15-2013, 01:26 PM
High withers is generally a desirable horse trait. Keeps the saddle from sliding forward. However, a skinny neck and swayed-back creates the illusion of grotesquely high withers.



But they are a bitch to fit with a good saddle. My TB has really, really high withers and I had an awful time getting a saddle to fit him - even ones for high withes seems to sit too low or rubbed. In the end I was able to get one that was very cut away in the pommel, but because he has high withers and a very flat back it was difficult.

Xenith
09-15-2013, 06:21 PM
In minor things, a badly coloured coat, boxy head, scrubby coat etc can make a horse look bad. A couple of years ago one of my horses rubbed off most of his mane overnight. He looked awful.

Thanks :) It look like this sort of thing I'll have to go with

(MC tells me horse is not ulgy, he's just unimpressive to look at, so I have to tread carefully).

Xenith
09-15-2013, 06:27 PM
High withers is generally a desirable horse trait. Keeps the saddle from sliding forward. However, a skinny neck and swayed-back creates the illusion of grotesquely high withers.

Now lazy horses, as you describe your MC's horse as being, are generally smart horses. I know, because I own the laziest mustang on Earth, and she comes up with the cleverest ways of conserving calories, as well as consuming more calories. Lazy horses can surprisingly make good distance horses, because when they've had enough, they'll slow way down. Energetic horses rarely know when they've had enough, and will run themselves into lameness or metabolic issues. The biggest issue your character will have with a lazy horse is creating rules, and firmly enforcing them. Rules like, 'If you don't trot forward at the tap of my calves, you're gonna get a touch of spur.' And when the lazy horse does obey to forward cues, it's important to reward them by easing off them, and letting them walk awhile before they initiate the decrease in speed. It takes stubbornness, patience, and consistency to improve a lazy horse. Few human personalities can make one perform. Non-assertive people, or impatient people are disastrous with such horses. Just thought you should know, because if your character can make a lazy horse work for them, it's very telling about them.

In this case "work" pretty much means letting him do as he wants, so I hope it that, um, works in the story :) I take your points though. I'll keep them in mind. Thanks.

usuallycountingbats
09-15-2013, 06:27 PM
Thanks :) It look like this sort of thing I'll have to go with

(MC tells me horse is not ulgy, he's just unimpressive to look at, so I have to tread carefully).

Unimpressive to look at is way, way easier IMO. William Fox Pitt had a horse called Ballincoola which won at the very top levels. Tied up to the lorry or out in the field you just wouldn't have picked it out, it was totally ordinary looking.

Big ears on an oversized head, with movement which isn't naturally flashy and you have yourself a boring horse. Make it bay, with no white markings, and lacking a bit of muscle, and you have something which no-one would pick out as a champion, but which with work could do something special and surprise everyone, without that being unrealistic.

GeorgeK
09-15-2013, 10:06 PM
If you don't mind a mule, a friend of mine used to cross his Clydesdale / Belgians with donkeys. He said they made the best draft animals. They had the massive horse bodies with little tiny donkey heads

Roxxsmom
09-18-2013, 09:49 AM
Sway back (http://www.equisearch.com/horses_care/health/anatomy/swaybacks_081205/). Sway-backed horses can still be sound and rideable, but they look funny. Hammer-headed, lop-eared, ewe necked etc. are other ways a horse that is still rideable, but not terribly handsome. Broken knees (http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/horse-care/vet-advice/understanding-broken-knees/) can look horrible too, but the horse may still be useful.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equine_conformation

Has an overview of horse conformation, some of the faults a horse can have, and what the potential consequences are. There are a lot of things (like a short neck or upright shoulder) that will make the horse less suited for certain tasks, or less comfortable to ride, but still usable for ordinary work.

Medievalist
09-18-2013, 09:48 PM
This is Nadia:

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z291/digital_medievalist/nadia_01.jpg

She's an Arab, and not generally considered attractive. She's fleabit grey (flea bit refers to her reddish freckles).

http://i195.photobucket.com/albums/z291/digital_medievalist/nadia_02.jpg

Visitors often dismiss her as "ugly" even when she's been groomed and smartened up.

The thing is, Nadia becomes lovely the minute she moves. She appears to float, almost effortlessly, even at a brisk walk.

I've seen visitors attracted to a rather blocky Palomino who's a bit dim and clumsy over Nadia, just because of the Palomino's coloring.

NeuroFizz
09-18-2013, 10:22 PM
Just say the horse looks like John Travolta.

sarahdalton
09-18-2013, 10:31 PM
Aww, Nadia is NOT ugly at all!

An overbite can make horses look a bit odd. Their lips and noses are a bit floppier.

It's called parrot mouth. Think it might affect dental stuff though.