The safest way to tell if a horse is suited by soft going is to inspect its recent form. If a horse has won one or more races, or at least finished close up – inside, or maybe even just outside, the places – on soft or heavy going, it is probably safe to assume that similar underfoot conditions will pose it no problem.
However, if the horse in unraced, or has never run on soft going, the formbook may be of little or no use, but analysing the pedigree of the horse in question may provide some clues regarding its likely going preferences. The progeny, or offspring, of certain sires show definite liking for one type of going or another.
Beyond that, you really need to see the horse, preferably in motion, to assess its conformation, or physique, and its action, or manner of moving. There are no hard and fast rules, but horses with sloping, rather than upright, shoulder joints and longer pasterns – parts of the feet, between the fetlocks and hooves – may be more effective on soft going. They tend to have a higher, more rounded knee action when galloping and their feet hit the ground hard. Similarly, horses with larger ‘dinner plate’ hooves often fare best when the going becomes testing.