It's not the best his butt looked, but it's the best picture I have of his rear from the side with him standing still. I'd have to say it looked it's best in 2005, when it was at it's most muscled and beefiest.
This is how his butt looks now in 2007.
Both my trainer and I noticed the deterioration of his butt due to his 18 months off. If you look at the 2007 picture, you'll notice that he has relatively straight lines between the "X" and the triangle, and the triangle and the circle. Ideally his rear should be a nice curved line all the way around. If you compare the 2007 picture with the 2002 picture you'll see that those straight lines used to be more curved and filled in with muscle. He put on quite a bit of muscle between 2002 and 2005, but you can still see the difference.
It's not only his butt that has lost muscle and shape. He has a little dip at the base of his neck that needs to fill in, and his shoulders, which previously looked like a steriod pumping linebacker, are smaller.
It's not that I'm surprised. Actually, it's expected that he'd lose muscle with time off like he had. Now we just have to work at putting it back in the right places in the correct way. The time off has been a real eye-opener for me and the feel I have while riding. Since we had to basically start all over with body building and simple straight lines I was able to concentrate on my position and his frame and stride. But I was also able to approach it with a more trained seat than I ever had before. Since we both learned dressage together, he's always been the most trained horse I've ever sat on. This makes it easy for both of us to pick up bad habits and mistakes along the way.
Now I know what things should feel like. I know when he's being lazy, evading, or not pushing from behind correctly. I'm even starting to be able to feel when he's not using his left hind correctly. I can also tell when I'm raising up on my right side, or letting my left leg slide forward. The weekly lessons and the few rides a month my trainer has on Kaswyn help a lot too. I'm better able to correct our issues, and let me tell you it's much harder work for both of us then ever before. But I think in the end we'll be better than ever.
And hopefully his butt will be nice and plump again by next summer. Or at least getting there.