Upright shoulders are common and seen in any breed. An upright shoulder affects all equestrian sports.
With an upright or vertical shoulder, the shoulder blade, measured from the top of the withers to the point of the shoulder, lies in an upright position, particularly as it follows the scapular spine.
Negative traits of a horse with an upright or verticle shoulder
This conformation flaw often accompanies low withers. This makes it harder to keep a saddle positioned properly.
The horse has shorter muscular attachments that have less ability to contract and lengthen. This shortens the stride length, which requires the horse to take more steps to cover ground, and causes a greater risk of injury to structures of the front legs and hastened muscular fatigue.
An upright shoulder may cause a rough, inelastic ride due to the high knee action. It increases concussion on front limbs, possibly promoting the development of DJD or navicular disease in hard-working horses.
The stress of impact tends to stiffen the muscles of the shoulder, making the horse less supple with a reduced range of motion, which is needed for long stride reach.
An upright shoulder causes the shoulder joint to be open and set low over a short, steep arm bone, making it difficult for a horse to elevate its shoulders and fold its angles tightly, which is needed for good jumping, or in cutting horses.
A horse with an upright shoulder usually does not have good form over fences.
Positive traits of the horse with an upright shoulder
The horse is usually easier to accelerate in sprinting.
An upright shoulder is best for gaited or park showing, parade horses, and activities requiring a quick burst of speed, like roping or Quarter Horse racing.