Friday, August 24, 2007

The good, the not-so-good, and the fuuuuugly

Upon request, I'm going to do a little series showing a really good example (breeding quality), a mediocre example (riding quality) and an oh-my-god-please-sterilize-it example of the same breed. I've been meaning to do something on Paints, because this is a variety of horse that has been severely, severely overbred with little thought given to conformation or quality. There is an absolute cornucopia of crap out there with big patchy spots of color.

Let's start out with the bottom of the barrel. This colt (selling uncut, of course) is so badly conformed that I question his usability for riding much less breeding. Seriously, those front pasterns qualify as a disability in my book. They are super long and weak. It is hard to evaluate the rest of the leg because they are so bad, they throw everything off. His hind end isn't much better. I don't mind mild cowhocks on a performance horse, but these aren't mild. Both hind feet point out like a duck's. That neck is as bad as bad can be - short, thick, no throatlatch. I know it's a bad pose and he's on a hill, but there's no way to pose him and make him look like even a mediocre horse. This one is just plain bad.

You are going to be right when you say that some of this is bad photography. Some of it is. But no matter, one look confirms that this is not a $3000 stallion prospect. It is a rather sad, underfed little 16 month old yearling, who - the ad brags - has been ridden by a 4 month old baby and did great! (Say it with me now - "WTG Mother of the Year!") This poor little creature is narrow and has no butt. I think those back legs are posty, too. His head's not as big as it appears from these pictures, but it's not a typy little stock horse head, either. This guy is screaming "please take me home, chop my balls off and make me into your 4-H horse." Unfortunately, for $3000 he is going to sit in that field 'til he rots. C'mon folks, you really need to have a passing acquantance with equine values to get a horse sold. I can pick up a colt just like this at a sale for $150 any day of the week. Unless he poops diamonds, yours is not worth three grand.

Moving into what I'd classify as mediocre horses, this is the same horse featured side by side, two years apart. I am using him to illustrate that not everything grows out of its awkward yearling/2 year old stage. Some goofy looking young stock grow up to be goofy looking adults! I'd classify this one (still a stallion and has mares in foal for next year!) as riding quality. He is downhill, he has a very short croup, short neck, and he toes out in front. Nothing about him is spectacular or stunning. He could make an OK trail horse, low level show horse, etc. He is not going to be a great athlete, ever. He should not still have his testicles attached. They swear this horse was reserve champion at an APHA show. I am wondering how many were in the class, aren't you?

Another unspectacular Paint colt. I will say that his owners are much more realistic - they have him priced at $400. OK there you go. For that price, he will find a home and hopefully with some kid who wants to make him into the open show horse of her dreams. With that low set neck, he'll western pleasure like a champ on the low end of the open shows/4-H level, he's got pretty good bone, and I suspect he's going to mature out to be level backed and not downhill. Unfortunately, the ad says he's a "stallion prospect." No, he's not, unless of course you read "stallion prospect" to mean: someday we believe his testicles will drop and he will be fertile. But for this price, geld him and you'd probably have a nice enough little youth horse.

(Still shouldn't have been bred, as the market is FLOODED with nice enough little youth horse prospects)

All right, now it's time to look at breeding quality paint stallions!

I'm going to give you the real names on these, because, in my never-humble-opinion, they appear to be doing things right. This is Impressive Proposal. He is an APHA Champion, which - short version - means he both halters and rides. The long version for him means he has points in western pleasure, hunter under saddle, trail and - are you ready? working hunter. Yes, he can JUMP too. See, here's what deserves to be a stallion - a horse who is not only correct conformationally for his breed but can also perform. His owners, Platinum Paint Horses, also get high marks for selling AKC (yes, really!) dogs and having tons of cute candid photos all over their site showing that their horses are allowed to go outside, roll in the mud and be horses, even if they are show horses.

Here's another APHA stallion that deserves to have his balls. His name is Windell. You know how I like to say breeding isn't magic? That you don't get great horses by clicking your heels together three times? This is a great example. He came into being because someone crossed TWO APHA Champions. Yes, both sire and dam could halter and perform with the best. And this is what you get - size, color, APHA honor roll hunter o/f and PtHA world champion dressage. They event this horse against non-stock breeds - he goes up against the warmbloods and fancy TB's and places well. This is what breeding quality looks like.
Yes, I would have loved to have found halter shots of these horses so we could look point by point at their conformation, but one thing that I have learned is you can't find halter shots of performance horses, so you'll just have to make do with what you have here. Besides, I know a lot of you aren't fans of halter horses, so I wanted to show you an excellent performance type.