AHHA has also instituted amongst it’s policies a system to rate the horses within it’s registry. Horses are evaluated in their 3rd year, although some horses evaluate better in their 5th and 7th years as a mature horse. This information will enable buyers, sellers and breeders to make informed decisions.
AHHA is extremely dedicated to it’ s preservation efforts and will continue to work towards keeping horses within the breed standard.
Breeding stock that continually produce progeny which are outside breed standard, will no longer have progeny registered.
This is not to say that there will not be occasionally atypical horses produced, however a continued presence of those sorts of progeny will effect registration ability.
Horses are rated by a minimum of seven Spanish Mustang/ Heritage Horse experienced horsemen, judges or clinicians. The horses are rate by phenotype only as by the time they have reached that level they will have qualified on pedigree. The rating does nothing to the registration except establish an opinion of that animal as breeding stock. The horses are judged blind. No pedigree, or names are provided with the photographs. The evaluators are only given the sex and age of the horses. The horses are then evaluated strictly on phenotype and the structural, ie. conformational, aspects of breeding animals.
AHHA will be requiring DNA typing for parentage/progeny testing on registered horses. As of 2012 all AHHA animals are to be registered with DNA typing. This is an effort to create a traceable database for the horses, the breeders, and owner/buyer.
Breed Standard vs. Conformation
By definition a breed is a relatively homogenous group of animals within a species, developed and maintained by humans. A breed standard is what distinguishes one breed from another and by adhering to a breed standard greater uniformity of type will exist. For example all horses are equus, but not all horses are Arabians or Thoroughbreds. AHHA considers conformation to be “form to function.” The conformation of the horse ultimately determines the function of the horse. Conformation is only part of a breed standard and a breed standard is more than just conformation, but they do go hand in hoof. Correct conformation is the same for any breed. It deals with the integrity of the body structure and determines how well a horse will hold up to stress, competition and aging. It is also the main determinant in how well a horse moves and its athletic abilities. Therefore conformation encompasses concerns with flaws such ewe necks, sickle hocks, calf knees, parrot mouths, crooked legs, etc.
AHHA Spanish Mustang Breed Standard
Medium weight, Usually between 700-1000 pounds. The body type is round, rounded outlines. The silhouette is that which can be fit into a square. The horse is as long as it is tall. The horse is an uphill horse with withers higher than the hindquarters. Impression of the best of these horses should be immediately Iberian in presence.
Height is medium to be measured at the last hair of the mane at the withers. Final height should be at 6 years. Average height is 14h to 14.1 hands. Range is 13.h to 15 hands.
Heritage horses come in all colors and patterns. The coat should be fine and short during the summer months. Luxurious mane and tails are quite common. Sparse manes and tails as in appaloosa patterns are not to be faulted.
Noble, bold and very trainable. They are capable of great loyalty and are quite bonded to their owners or handlers.
The heritage horse should move with agility, elevated forward, smooth and have a great facility to carry a rider in comfort. Comparatively when one thinks of this horse: an Arabian Horse moves as a gazelle does. The Iberian Horse moves as a cat does.
These horses have a natural athletic ability. They are capable of great concentration but can be easily bored. They excel at many horse sports, such as dressage, carriage driving, endurance, competitive trail, rodeo, etc. They have a natural ability to work cattle.
Well proportioned of medium length, narrow and dry. The jaw is not too pronounced and the cheek is inclined to be longer. Eyes tend to be almond shaped, large,expressive and confident. Small pig eyes are to be faulted. The ears are of medium length, fine, narrow, expressive and in proportion to the head. Dished profiles are considered less desirable. Muzzles should never be meaty but elegant in presentation with nostrils that are slim but still capable of great expansion.
The neck is in proportion to the body of medium length. It should be arched and it is not unusual to see a crest especially in stallions. The junction between the neck and head is fine (throat latch) The neck is deep into the base and well inserted between the shoulders, rising up from the withers.
Well defined and long, with a smooth transition from back to the neck. Always higher than the croup. No less than level with the croup. Mutton withers are to be faulted.
Appears narrow and importantly, what is described as "A’d up" in the front. The legs come up into a deep chest in what appears to be the outline of the capital letter A when viewed from the front of the horse. The horse should it look overly muscled and blocky as see in stock horses and those of modern breeding, or a non Iberian background.
Well developed and well sprung. The rib cage and heart girth should be deep and capable of expansion. Obliquely arched into the join with the spinal column which promotes a short deep full flank.
Long well laid back into the withers. They should be well but smoothly muscled, not bulgy as seen in stock horses.
Well defined and medium to short. The back tending towards horizontal making a smooth union between withers and loins.
Short, wide, muscular, slightly convex, well connected with the back and croup with which they form a continuous harmonious line.
Strong and rounded in general. Rafter hips are often seen. Well balanced, slightly slanting. The length and width should be of identical proportions. The profile is convex and harmonious with the point of the hip (pin bone) . The tail should emerge smoothly in line with the croup whether it is full or sparse tail.
The forelegs are well muscled with long lean muscling.
The upper arm is straight and well muscled.
The cannons are of moderate to long length and are rounded.
The fetlocks are dry, relatively big and with very little hair in summer coat.
The hooves are of good constitution, well defined and proportioned without being too open.
The line of the coronet is not very evident.
The buttock is short and convex.
The thigh is muscular but smooth and tends to be short, and is oriented in such as way as the patella or gaskin is in the same vertical line as the hip bone or point of hip.
The leg is slightly long from the hock which puts the point of hook in the same vertical line as the point of buttock.
The hocks are large, strong and dry.
The back legs present a picture of relatively closed angles.