In The News
Chris Luoni has been chosen as Waikato Breeder of the Month on two occasions in 1991 and 2002 by the Waikato Branch of NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
Chris was appointed a National Councillor of the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Association in June 2009, and elected to the Council Executive in June 2010.
In January 2009 Chris retired as a partner in New Zealand's leading accounting firm - PricewaterhouseCoopers and is now a professional director and business consultant. His directorships include Huka Lodge, Waitomo Petroleum, Hospitality NZ Ltd, Optech International & The Omnia Group.
Chris is a well respected professional advisor to the bloodstock and racing industries and in 2000 he acted as GST advisor to the Australian Racing Board, Magic Millions Sales Company and Austalian Harness Racing Council.
Chris is a National Trustee of The Young New Zealanders' Challenge of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards (appointed by the Governor General).
Chris is a founding director of the NZ Racing Hall of Fame which held its inaugural event in Auckland (March 2006) and subsequent induction events in 2008 and 2010.
He is a past director of Ra Ora Stud Limited and of the Waikato Racing Club.
The return of Dance Floor has been the subject of two shows on the weekly Ford Report screening on the 10th May and 17th September 2005.
A news item on our breeding operation was reported in the NZ Thoroughbred Marketing Weekly Update report - 2 September 2002. (www.nztm.co.nz)
Confirmation of a Horse
This article will be of interest to people who wish to learn more about the husbandry of a horse. I found it very useful information.
Conformation is the physical appearance of an animal due to the arrangement of muscle, bone and other body tissue. It is the sum of these body parts and how they blend together which determines the acceptability or unacceptability of the horse's conformation. Good conformation is the overall blending of body parts to form a beautiful athlete.
No horse is conformed perfectly. Remember that in examining horses the purpose is to exclude those with physical faults you consider unacceptable.
Overall, when examining a horse you should consider balance, intelligence and athleticism.
Balance - Is the horse well-proportioned? Does the frame suit its muscle?
Intelligence - Does the horse seem in control, aware of its surroundings, alert?
Athleticism - Does the horse look physically fit, strong and capable?
Remember, every horse has some physical fault with regard to conformation. The art or science of evaluating a horse is deciding which of those faults are less likely to adversely impact the intended use of the animal. Some of the faults have little or no consequence with respect to a horse's racing success; this is particularly true for leg faults.
Everyone has different thresholds with regard to what constitutes acceptable faults.
Points of the horse
1 Ear 14 Chest 27 Hock
2 Forelock 15 Chestnut 28 Tail
3 Forehead 16 Hoof 29 Hip
4 Eye 17 Forearm 30 Dock
5 Nostril 18 Knee 31 Rump/Croup
6 Lips 19 Cannon bone 32 Loins
7 Muzzle 20 Coronet band 33 Back
8 Chin 21 Pastern 34 Wither
9 Cheek 22 Fetlock 35 Mane
10 Throat 23 Elbow 36 Crest
11 Neck 24 Girth/Barrel 37 Poll
12 Shoulder 25 Stifle
13 Point of Shoulder 26 Gaskin
Feet - A horse's hooves must be able to withstand a great deal of pressure. At full speed, a 1,000-pound (500kg) Thoroughbred will place the equivalent of 100 times the force of gravity on each hoof with every stride, so it is essential that the foot be shaped properly to withstand this concussion and to dissipate the shock of impact. Consider the proportion, substance and size of the hoof. The underside of the hoof should have a round, slightly oval shape, with some depth. Look for balanced feet on both sides, or symmetry. Avoid misshapen, dished or cracked feet - these issues will lead to a higher farrier bill.
Pasterns - The pastern should be at a 45-degree angle (example A; example B shows a too-sloping/long pastern; example C shows a too-upright pastern). Its length should be proportionate; too long a pastern could indicate weakness and tendency towards tendon strain, while if too short it may absorb too much concussion, thus stressing the bone structure. A vertical line from the centre of the fetlock should touch the back of the heel.
Cannon bones - Ideally, the cannon bone should be short, strong, and have mass. The cannon bone bears the most weight of any bone in a horse's body. The bone should exit the lower knee or hock cleanly and be well-centered. From the front, the cannon bones should appear straight and be of the same length. Keep an eye out for splints under the knee, on the front of the cannon bones. Example A shows a bow-legged horse, example B a knock-kneed horse, and example C shows offset or bench knees.
Shoulder - The shoulder should have the same slope or angle as the pastern (see diagram at right). The ideal slope of the shoulder is approximately 45 to 50 degrees. In general, the angle of the pastern will correspond with the angle of the shoulder. Stride length is largely determined by the conformation of the shoulder. The straighter the shoulder, the shorter the stride. Also, a straight shoulder absorbs concussion instead of dispensing it and will put stress on the bones of the leg and shoulder. Look for balance, symmetry and good muscling. A straight line from the point of the shoulder (front on view) should bisect the entire front leg all the way to the toe. Also, the width of the toes on the ground should be the same width as their origin in the chest.
Chest - A horse's chest should be broad and appear powerful. Narrow chested or slab-sided horses are said to lack power.
Knee - Bones in and leading to the knee should line up in a balanced manner; not tilting forward ("over at the knee" or "buck-kneed") or back ("back at the knee" or "calf-kneed"), nor severely offset to one side or the other. It is best if the knees are set squarely on top of the cannon bones, not off to one side or another
Neck - A horse's neck should be sufficient in scope to provide adequate wind for the horse and be well tied in at the withers, while not being too low or "ewe necked." A horse with a well-muscled, well-proportioned neck has a longer, more rhythmic stride and can more easily maintain its balance when running. An easy, rhythmic stride will cause less fatigue while racing. Fatigue can increase the chances of injury.
Head - The head should be broad enough to permit adequate air passage. Generally, the distance from the back of the jaw to where the head ties into the neck should be about the size of a fist. Nostrils should be of adequate size. People refer to an "attractive" head. That usually means the head is short, with well-set ears; has large bold eyes, a short distance from eye to muzzle, large nostrils and a refined muzzle with a shallow mouth. In general, there is no physiological benefit to the horse having an "attractive" head. An "ugly" head functions similarly to an attractive head.
Eye - The eyes should be big and bright. Look for an intelligent, keen eye.
Back - The distance from the withers to top of croup or hips should match the length of the horse's neck from the poll to the withers. The length of the back is directly related to the slope of shoulder. The steeper the shoulder, the longer the back. A horse with a long back is usually not as well balanced or as strong as a short-backed horse.
Hocks - A horse's hocks should not be straight as a post, nor curved so deeply as to be "sickle-hocked," but somewhere in between. Ideally, if you dropped an imaginary plumb line from the point of the buttocks to the ground, it should run parallel to the cannon bone and be slightly behind the heel. From the rear, the hocks should appear to point straight at you and not turn in -- "cow hocks" or turn out -- "open in the hocks" or "bow-legged." Ideally, an imaginary line from the point of the buttocks to the ground should bisect the gaskin, hock and hoof.
Hips/Buttocks - The croup or hip should have a gentle slope; not too steep or flat - and good width. The gaskin should depict strength and should complement the muscles of the quarters. Note that much of the horse's athleticism and power comes from behind. Definition and development are key attributes.
Although conformation is important with regards to soundness, it must be remembered that badly conformed horses (particularly leg conformation) still win races. The most important things are attitude, athleticism and balance.