Friday, December 21, 2007

Papers matter, they just aren't the only thing that matters!

There's been some discussion lately about whether or not papers matter, and I'd like to respond.

I have a good friend who dropped out of high school at 15, ran off with a 27 year old guy and lived in a commune. Not exactly a recipe for success! However, she also happens to be 5'9 with a body and face to die for. She started modeling and parlayed that into a successful acting career. Today, in her 50's, she's far more successful than I'll ever be, with multiple homes and a very nice lifestyle. Yet, if I pointed to her as a reason you - or your kids - shouldn't go to college, you would think I was smoking crack and give me a sound lecture on how idiotic that reasoning is - and you'd be right.

A horse who lacks papers from a major breed registry is like a person who dropped out of high school. If they have great talents and make the right "connections," then like my friend, they can succeed in life...but most of them don't. Most high school dropouts find themselves working a series of depressing, dead-end minimum wage jobs, living in sub-standard housing, being preyed upon by high-interest credit cards, Rent-A-Center, and similar entities, suffering with health problems because they lack insurance, and bringing children into the same sad cycle of poverty with little hope of a way out. Similarly, most grade horses find themselves living in someone's barbed wire fenced field, being dragged out on weekends for a trail ride in a western saddle that sits right on their withers, having their face yanked off by a guy named Bubba who thinks he's a cowboy, having their health conditions go unattended, and often dying either by slaughter or simply dying in the field when hay gets expensive and Bubba can't short his beer budget to pay for it.

Yes, yes, yes, I know everybody's got an exception to BOTH sides of this analogy. I always have to hear about Teddy O'Connor. Teddy O' Connor is exactly like my actress friend. They both have a rare level of talent AND made the right connections. THIS IS NOT TYPICAL. (Also, again, for god's sake, Teddy O'Connor is just an Anglo-Arab with a smidgen of pony blood. He is not a freakin' Friesiawalkaloosavanner.)

I know some of you didn't finish high school but have Ph.D's in the school of life and are smart and competent - yet I'll bet most of you who are successful own your own business - because most of the world is simply not going to give you a chance without certain credentials. The reality is the same for horses. The average person wants to see papers, whether they're hiring an employee or buying a horse. They want to see what they perceive as some kind of proof they're getting something good.

Are there crappy registered horses and excellent grade ones? Of course!

Are there idiots who finished college but can't master a form letter? Hell, I hired one once! (Still hurts my brain to think about trying to train her.) Are there extremely smart, competent, successful high-school dropouts? You bet, I know several.

The point is NOT that papers make a horse good. The point is that papers (from a real registry, not the $!*$!&!$ Blue Eyed Horse Association) make human beings - those creatures who totally control a horse's fate - more likely to give that horse a chance at a good home and a performance career of some sort. When you buy a grade horse, you limit your options and most people do not like to limit their options. If they can buy a registered horse who is eligible for breed shows and incentive programs and horseback riding programs and all sorts of fun stuff for the same price as a grade horse who can only do the open shows or some kind of competition where papers are not relevant, they are going to buy the registered horse, pretty much every time. And in this market - they can.

Breeding grades, or just being lazy and not registering your foals, is every bit as irresponsible as telling the kids they can drop out if they're sick of the 9th grade and that they're going to grow up and be my friend the actress. Horses have enough risk in their lives and we should be doing everything we can to minimize those risks.

All right, and now - perfectly on topic - we have today's featured breeder! This came up in the comments and it is definitely front page FHOTD material. This lady is breeding unregisterable Quarter Horses because of some weird need to preserve the grade horse breeding program started by Grandpa. She seems unable to comprehend that the world has changed and papers matter now. Well, that, and she seems equally unable to comprehend what a good horse looks like. Some examples:

"I have also raised a grade 1997 buckskin stallion sired by Ten Sleep Foxy Bar that is built like a tank, named Buckskin Bo. Bo also sports the Peppy Rojo line in his dam's pedigree and is a good color producer so far. He is by far the smoothest horse I have ever ridden and that old saying holds true with him that you can't ride papers!!! Registered or Grade, he's got some nice qualities to pass on to the right kind of mares if you want color and a reasonable stallion breeding fee without all the hassles of registering his colts! "

The "hassles" of registering his colts? My brain is bleeding...And look at this nasty, long backed thing...Is that a club foot on this side? Sure looks like one to me!

Check out the scars all over him, too. Ya think she's got herself some barbed wire fence? You know it.

Hey, he is cute. He would make a nice gelding if that foot doesn't bother him too much!

This one just got sold to someone in Texas - "Thanks Jeff, for seeing through internet pictures only,
what a fine stallion prospect he is!"


ALL FOUR LEGS ARE SHIT. He's post legged and high hocked behind. He toes out. (Look at the below picture for a better view on the lovely front end) I've seen tied in behind the knee but he looks tied in in front of the knee, or is it just the knee is enlarged? Either way, if someone paid $6500 for this thing as a stallion prospect, they need their head examined. Plus he's got a "nest" and his tail's set as high as an arab's. Yuck. This one's actually registered, which is a good example that papers do not necessarily mean quality, either!

How is it that people buy horses like this? Do they really only look at the fact that it has a big ass? (Sitting on top of little feet...gee, I thought it was only the halter horse people who were to blame for little feet? Guess not!)

My eyes! My eyes!

OMG. Nasty short croup, goose rump, as long as driving through Indiana, camped out, short neck, upright shoulder, downhill and a complete and total lack of any kind of balance or muscling. Hell, even the OWNER admits she is a fugly - but of course there is a justification for the fact she's had TWELVE GRADE FOALS. "Ya, well, so Frosty Flame isn't much to look at, but she sure produces gentle, pretty colts and they don't stay in my corral very long, so obviously her foals are better looking than she is!"

Um, no. They are not.

This is her daughter, who has pretty much her exact same conformation. Guess what they've been breeding her to? The buckskin up top. Four times now. Oy vey...
Of course, she is breeding mixed breed dogs, too, the kind that die every day in our shelters. Doesn't everybody need a mix of Heeler, Border Collie, Aussie and Black Lab? No? Really? She brags that her nasty mixed breed dog has had 21 puppies so far. Yay. Why are these things never sterile? As someone pointed out the other day, it's like Kevin Federline, and shit, the entire Spears family. (Now the 16 year old's knocked up too. And their idiot mother thinks she is going to write a parenting book. I know, I know, I digress...but really. That's like me thinking I can write a book on housekeeping. You have to accept that some things, you are bad at!)