The Sprinter, Stayer & Jumper- Typical Traits

Sprinters typically jump from the gates running, will often appear to be traveling well during a race, can show a turn of foot off a slow pace, but can die quickly and stop as if shot over the final stages of a race. Alternately a stayer will take time to find it stride from the gates, may appear to be struggling mid race, but will keep on coming over the concluding stages. This article briefly looks are their typical conformation traits that add to their speed and endurance, and attempts to explain them.

The Sprinter

Starting with the forequarter limbs, they process shorter and upright pasterns, short cannons & longer forearms. The sprinter may have bulky type muscles, which may be observed form side on when looking for muscle shape (curve) at the front of its forearms. The bulky muscles can lack flexibility, but adds strength and speed over the sprint distances. With the upper forequarters they may have open shoulder joints, with a slightly shorter shoulder blade. It neck may appear short, bulky and low set. It may have a well shaped head with good width between the eyes, and a deep jaw aiding its airways. The open shoulder joint means the sprinter may have a horizontally restricted chest. This is also as a result of having a vertically deep girth and slightly shorter legs overall. The shorter and upright shoulder blade, along with the deeper girth, leaves less scope for extended stride length, but aids in producing a faster stride rate. It may also lead to a slightly choppy action, if combined with a short and upright humeros bone. The upright shoulder can also lead to the sprinter having a longer back when mature. The longer back helps to keep the Sprinter’s center of gravity more forward, producing a quicker stride rate through the forequarters. The extra length of the back may be slightly offset by horizontally strong upper hind quarters. Its rear cannon may also be shorter along with short and upright rear pasterns. Overall the sprinter has a long body type with a deep girth adding to appearance of stubby legs.

The Stayer

Once again starting with the forequarters, the staying type may have well angled and long pasterns, long cannons with a short forearm, and appear leggy overall. The stayer may have long and thin shaped muscles, which may be observed form side on when looking for muscle shape (less curve or flat for a stayer) at the front of its forearms. These shaped muscles are usually flexible and capable of working for extended periods, ideally suited as distances increase. The upper forequarters may have a particularly closed shoulder joint, this allows for a good shoulder angle and a horizontally deep chest. Its shoulder blade may also have some good length, but the stayer will often be vertically shallow as far as its girth goes. All the above factors allow for extra scope with the stayers stride, leading to a potentially longer striding horse. Its neck may be long, thin and set high. Its head may be long and thin. The well sloped shoulder can lead to a shorter back, this can enable good reach forward and lift, as it keeps the center of gravity (or weight) from going to far forward, which again aids stride length. Its hind quarters may be typically smaller than the pure speed horses. The stayers rear cannons may also be longer, along with its pasterns that may also be well angled as with those on the forelegs. Overall the stayer typically has a tall body type with a shallow girth. adding to leggy appearance.

The Jumper

The jumper needs to be able to clear jumps with ease, and also show a quick pickup and speed between the jumps. This leads to conformation traits of both the sprinter and stayer. Forequarter traits may include long cannons, short forearms, and open elbow and shoulder joints. The open elbow and shoulder joints results in a slightly upright humorous bone. This gives this bone the extra scope required to lift its knees high in an efficient manner. The shoulder blade may be slightly smaller and upright than standard, but the jumper may process a deeper girth. The upright shoulder may result in a longer back, although this may be off set by strong hind quarters. Horses that are versatile over distances, can stay, and have a sprinting type conformation often make the best jumpers. Jumpers often have an even length by height ratio, meaning the jumper can have the desired open forequarters, while keeping its center of gravity reasonably backward, enable more efficient lift from the hind quarters to clear jumps.

Summing up, most traits will push the center of gravity (or weight balance) forward on a sprinter, or in comparison backwards on the stayer and jumper. As an example lets look how some of the stayers traits help push its center of gravity (or weight) backwards towards it hind quarters:

  • Upright neck
  • Deep horizontal chest
  • Shallow girth
  • Short back

It should be noted that most horses will process a combination of sprinting and staying traits, and many horses will race against what their own traits may suggest, but on the whole if you have a good eye for these traits you can expect to roughly predict a horses best distance with approximately a 70% success rate. Small variations typically make up these traits that are often undetectable to all but experienced horse people.