Conformation Investigation – Bella and Missy

Today we get to take a look at TWO adorable miniature horse mares, Bella (the bay pinto) and Missy (the black pinto), full sisters! Both mares are 36″ tall. Bella is 10 years old and Missy is 12 years old.

First, I want to say I love the faces on these girls. Talk about 100% kindness and sweetness. Just look at the size of their eyes!

If you are not familiar with Linda Tellington-Jones and her TTouch Method I am about to share something very fun! If you are familiar with her, maybe this is a review. She has a book called “Getting in TTouch; Understand and Influence Your Horse’s Personality“. This book talks about the size and shape of the ears, the size and shape of the eyes, the nostrils, how they hold their lips, the size and shape of their chin, the facial swirls, and on and on. Over the years I have gone over all these things with my personal horses and ponies and nearly every time her description of the horse or pony’s personality is right on. I find this so fascinating!

And did you know that a horse or a pony’s eye shape and size can change? So a horse that has a small eye can end up with a larger eye as it goes through kind and compassionate training.

This is from page 144 in the book. Amazing! The eye change changed the entire look of this horse!

So what does a lovely large, round, soft eye mean? In the book it describes this horse as willing and one who usually trusts people. If your horse or pony comes from a rescue situation it can develop this large, soft, round eye over time and with consistent kind handling. So a horse or pony that is NOT trusting of people can become trusting.

We can also take a look at their nostrils. These are described as – Edges of nostrils well defined: Mentally quick, intelligent. Perfect for a driving pony.

I would describe Bella’s upper lip as being heart shaped and is described as: this can be an indication of an expressive, curious and extroverted character. Doesn’t she look like a curious character!?

And I would say Missy has a relaxed upper lip which is described as: such a lip implies a relaxed attitude. She certainly looks relaxed here! It also says this kind of lip can be misleading and it’s important to read this type of lip along with the other facial characteristics. Based on her ear position in the above photo and her side shot photo I would say she is a bit of an independent character and was annoyed at having her picture taken.

I think it’s fun to take a closer look at our horses and ponies facial features, not to pigeon hole them in any way, but to maybe have a deeper understanding of our partners.

So, let’s take a look at these girl’s conformation!

First, Bella. I had to make the box more rectangular to fit both her hip and chest in the box. You can also see in the below photo that she is a bit butt high. At her age it’s not likely this is a growing issue, but more a posture/conformation one.

Hill Therapy would benefit this mare so much! I would not recommend working her in side reins or doing lots of lunging work with her as these things, if done incorrectly (and it’s so EASY to do these things incorrectly!), will only exacerbate her current posture. But some Hill Therapy will teach her to use core muscles and thereby tighten her tummy, lift her back and can also teach her how to engage her hind end so the top of her hip flattens somewhat. As butt high as she is, it won’t go away all together but the overall picture can really change.

Butt high horses are also considered to be downhill horses. What is a downhill horse? This is a horse that has what is considered a closed shoulder, so because it’s hind end is higher than it’s front, this causes the shoulder angles to be more closed. This also means this horse will have a more difficult time collecting from it’s hind end and lifting the front end. So a horse with this type of conformation would not be an ideal in hand jumping horse. It will not be a roadster type driving horse. It will have a hard time lifting it’s front end and having lots of leg action coming from the front shoulders. Most likely, this type of horse will have more low movement. She will most likely carry her head very low, poll below the withers, and lower leg action. She should be encouraged to use her core muscles and not be allowed to just drag herself around by her front legs. Hill Therapy does help with this if it’s followed as suggested.

Missy is less butt high, but you can see her butt does stick up above the box a little bit:

Both girls have short necks and a little heavier throat latches. Neither are things that will interfere with driving for fun or trail driving. A thicker throat latch does make it harder for them to collect on the bit, but if you are just trail driving and driving for your and your pony’s pleasure, collection isn’t really necessary.

Bella, the bay pinto, has a bit longer back than Missy does. Bella also has a more forward chest. I don’t know if you can see that in the photo above but her chest sticks out farther from her shoulder than Missy’s does. Just an interesting conformation fact! She may be able to carry a straight breast collar a little better than Missy could.

Both girls have very nice straight hind legs and nicely shaped booties that will fill out a breeching beautifully.

I don’t see anything about these girls that would say they shouldn’t be driving horses. In fact, they have many wonderful attributes that say they would both make wonderful trail driving partners.

If you would like me to take a look at your horse or pony please email me at Make sure to include the name, age and height of your horse or pony!

Thank you to everyone that has joined in on these conversations! I’m really enjoying writing this posts and looking at everyone’s beautiful (and handsome) ponies.

Links in this blog:
The book:

The Essential Horse Blog:

The Essential Horse Blog:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.