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Research article2024Peer reviewed

Body measurements in Icelandic horses used for two different purposes and the relationship to performance and usability

Soderroos, D.; Stefansdottir, G. J.; Gunnarsson, V.; Rhodin, M.; Ragnarsson, S.; Jansson, A.


Many horse breeds are used for a variety of tasks and studies have shown within breed variations in conformation depending on the task. The Icelandic horse is used for several tasks, e.g. leisure riding, competitions and tour riding. Research about conformation and relationship to subjectively assessed performance (usability) in Icelandic horses used by tourist companies and riding schools (TRh) are lacking. Back condition score has been shown to be associated with weight carrying capacity in the breed. However, the association between back condition score and angle and performance in Icelandic horses participating in a breed evaluation field test (BEFTh) and usability in TRh has not been investigated previously. The aim of the study was to compare body measurements in BEFTh and TRh and examine the relationship with riding ability in BEFTh and usability in TRh. Data of height at withers, back and croup, body condition score (BCS) and back angle were collected in 48 BEFTh (age 8 +/- 2 years) and 65 TRh (age 14 +/- 5 years). Transversal back angle at the 18th thoracic vertebra was determined using a flexible curve ruler. A questionnaire was used to evaluate the relationship between body measurements and owners' assessment of usability in TRh. The relationship between back condition score and angle and riding ability was evaluated in BEFTh. Compared with TRh, BEFTh had a greater difference between height at withers and height at back and croup, lower BCS and greater back angle (P < 0.05). In TRh, height were positively correlated with usability (P < 0.05). Back condition score and angle were not associated with riding ability in BEFTh or usability in TRh (P > 0.05). In conclusion, body measurements differs between BEFTh and TRh and further studies are needed to investigate if the same conformation traits are associated with good performance in BEFTh and usability in TRh.


equine; breed evaluation field test; tour riding; back shape; weight carrying capacity

Published in

Comparative Exercise Physiology
2024, Volume: 20, number: 1, pages: 35-44