Horse Conformation

The late American Quarter Horse Hall of Famer Charley Araujo sheds light on evaluating horse structure.

The American Quarter Horse Journal
August 26, 2013

Charlene Morgan competing in ranch pleasure

"I look for a horse that V's up in the chest, which aids in maneuverability," Charley said in Part 1 of "A Horseman's Eye," a new conformation series starting in the September Journal. (Journal photo)

Charley Araujo knew horses.

Among the many things Charley is known for, having shown Doc Bar to stardom and having put Poco Tivio on the map as a sire certainly rank toward the top. But Charley is noted not only for his contributions to the industry as a showman and breeder; the late California horseman is also largely remembered as a renowned judge. Decades after his death in December 1972, Charley was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2008.

“Since I was a child, I have observed horses,” Charley once said. “I grew up in a time when horses and cowboys were the admiration of the day in our country. We lived here in California, up in cattle country in the mountains, and that was all there was to admire.”

This interview with Charley, written by Jane Pattie, originally appeared in the June 1970 issue of Horseman magazine. While decades and horse-breeding trends have come and gone, Charley’s take on form-to-function in the American Quarter Horse holds true to this day.

Starting in the September issue, The American Quarter Horse Journal is rolling out a new series dubbed “A Horseman’s Eye,” where Charley shares his wisdom on horse conformation.

When evaluating a horse, Charley always looked for a well-balanced horse that easily broke into thirds. Keeping with that, “A Horseman’s Eye” will break the horse into three sections, and Part 1 will start with the front.

“People will ask, ‘Do you like a wide horse?’ No, I don’t like a wide horse. ‘Do you like a narrow horse?’ No, I don’t like a narrow horse. I want a horse that is balanced,” Charley said.

The legendary horseman’s insight on evaluating structure knows no discipline-specific boundaries; what he is passing on is priceless knowledge to any horseman or breeder.

For instance, he said, “It must be remembered that there is only one thing that we can guarantee in breeding, and that’s that they will pass along any bad traits.”

Be on the lookout for “A Horseman’s Eye,” starting in the September Journal. The new series offers insight on old-time principles for evaluating horse conformation that still hold true to this day.
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