Saturday, November 17, 2007

Genetics: It's really not like playing roulette!

There will always be someone who will argue with you forever that they got the BEST BABY EVER out of their fugly mare or sired by their fugly stallion. They have 50 stories at their disposal about how the best breeders get all of these crappy cull babies and you just don't see them because they ship them to slaughter and never register them. (This practice exists, but it's not that widespread and if you're having a "whole bunch" of culls, clearly you're not one of the "best breeders" to begin with) They have 50 more stories about superstar horses that came from humble roots.

(BTW, if I hear one more person use Teddy O'Connor as a justification for breeding grade horses I am going to throw up...THE DAMN PONY IS MOSTLY THOROUGHBRED. THAT'S WHAT HE IS. 3/4ths THOROUGHBRED! The fact that he is 1/8th something off the wall (Shetland pony) is NOT TERRIBLY RELEVANT. He's a pony with a big jump and a lot of heart, good for him, that kind of athleticism is impressive and admirable, but he's MOSTLY THOROUGHBRED. He is not proof that your Appawalkeresian is EVER going to be good at ANYTHING. And by the way, that pony was bred by one of the top pony farms in the business...people who are VERY knowledgeable about conformation and movement and show their horses and know what can perform and what the judges are going to like. It's like COOKING. If you put ME in the kitchen with a bunch of off the wall ingredients, I sure as hell wouldn't recommending eating what came out of there. Rachael Ray, hey, she'd probably come up with something tasty. Some people are experts and can get good results with slightly unconventional beginnings, MOST people AREN'T. **end of rant**)

OK, back to what I was saying...They use this repetoire of bullshit to defend their breeding program, which seems to consist of breeding Crap to Crappier - a breeding program predicated solely upon what someone gave them for free, or what they could pick up at the auction for less than $300. And often involving the justification "but he/she has such a good disposition!"

Let me enlighten you. The vast majority of horses, if they live in your yard and are not asked to do anything more than eat carrots and get petted, are going to have a good disposition. It is actually quite rare for a horse, particularly a horse living on turnout, to be a snarling demon beast. Most of the crabbiness I've seen is among stall-kept, overgrained and overtrained, sore, sour and pissed off horses. Often it's horses who have an undiagnosed health issue like a sore back or ulcers. Wouldn't you agree? Disposition is important, but without conformation and athleticism, it is not a good enough reason to breed.

All right, let's start with a great example of how excellence equals excellence. Here is a really nice black and white tobiano APHA stallion. Note that while he is a halter champion, he has a great shoulder, good pasterns and can move freely from the shoulder. He has points in, like, a zillion events. Significantly, HE STAYED SOUND to get a zillion points - which to me is a HUGE reason to breed to him. If you want soundness, start with soundness. He has a lovely neck with a clean throatlatch, a cute head with little foxy ears, and overall he's just extremely balanced and nice. Unsurprisingly, so is his filly. Look at her - she got it all, the balance, the shoulder, the hip, good bone, nice neck, cute expression and little foxy ears. This filly has what it takes to have a bright future ahead of her. A horse with good conformation like this can be suited for a wide variety of events, and that really helps it find a great home for life. As I've said before, a versatile horse can learn new events and disciplines with his owner. His owner doesn't have to pass him along when they decide to try something new. We talked about horses we have as "lifers" and a common theme was the horse who could change along with the rider - the horse who transitioned from showing to trail riding when the rider got sick of showing, or from jumping fences to team penning when the rider wanted to try something new.

Now let's look at the opposite!

A friend sent me this yesterday and my first reaction is WTF is THAT? Yes, of course, it's a stallion. Why, you might ask? Yes, I think we are all asking that question. The best I can tell, this is because it happens to be a "double homozygous black and white."

LISTEN UP: TOBIANOS ARE NOT THAT SPECIAL! It's not like it's some rare color you can market just off of that. The kill pens are FULL of tobianos. I honestly cannot find anything about your stallion that is OK. Well, hmmm. Maybe his front pasterns are decent? Hard to tell. This is, bar none, the worst neck that I have seen on a stud while doing this blog. Then we have his back end, with his sickle hocks, crappy hip and tail set on like an Arab's. And I have to say one thing for him...he is shockingly prepotent. Almost every baby on the site looks JUST as bad as HE does. Look at this one! It's his little twin. It's going to grow up and look just like him.

People often accuse me of picking just the bad pictures of a horse. OK, here is a whole different pose on the other side. STILL HIDEOUS.

You know, I will give them this. They did get him broke out and he rides now. OK great. Can you please geld him now? I am sure he is a sweetie and will make a nice gelding. Please stop offering to breed grade mares for only $250. Please stop proudly showing off his grade mares and foals on your web site as though this was something to be proud of.

While you're at it, can you please do the feet on that poor chestnut mare above?

Just out of curiosity, I looked up homozygous yak horse's sire. Is anybody here at all surprised to see that I found he's at the Wal-Mart of breeders...tons of quantity, low prices and no quality! Here is their ad. Come one, come all, come kill buyers. We bred a million of 'em just running the range! But hey! They are cheap! 45 of 'em, GUARANTEED priced between $575 and $975. Come and stock up and start your OWN crappy backyard breeding operation.

Seriously, if we could just stop the "mass production" breeders like this, we could put the kill buyers out of business. There would BE enough homes if not for people like this endlessly shitting out huge quantities of low quality horses and throwing them out into the world to any moron who thinks it's a cute idea to buy a baby.

Since I'm sure some representative of the Lazy Ass Ranch will show up here and have a tantrum, let me ask you a question in advance: Why don't you be responsible and change it to Pick a Gelding Day? If they're weanlings, they're old enough to geld. What exactly is your justification for not only breeding so many horses in this market, but also letting your culls - and if that critter above isn't a cull I don't know what is - go out into the world able to breed?