Monday, January 26, 2009

But he goes back to the Darley Arabian!

Happy Monday!

Today I feel compelled to comment, yet again, on the misguided idea many low end breeders have that it is somehow rare and special to have a horse that goes back to (insert name of Famous Horsie) in the fifth or sixth generation. This is constantly used as a justification for breeding these horses, even though nothing any closer up in their pedigree has gotten any closer to fame than an American Idol wannabe who is thrown off the stage by Simon after fifteen seconds of producing noises that sound like a cat coming out of anesthesia.

As one reader noted "I hate hearing about how good the mare or gelding are because it is a Joe Hancock crossed onto a King. HOLY CRAP, put the poor thing down because it must be 50 friggin years old to have that cross of blood line."

And yet, this marketing technique/breeding justification continues. I always think it must start with the horses being sold to the hapless BYB wannabe. "This is a great horse," says Joe HorseDealer. "He goes back to Man O'War!" BYB-wannabe whips out his checkbook, sure that he's buying the equine equivalent of a Ferrari for a bargain price, when any experienced horseperson could see something that looks like a cross between an okapi and a yak with some water buffalo thrown in for good measure.

(Recently, a whole stack of paints went through the Enumclaw auction...young, unhandled, scruffy looking. Later, I heard the whole story. They were owned by an older couple who'd purchased $100K of "breeding stock" from some big name breeder who I haven't managed to ID yet. Now, the farm was in foreclosure and the couple took all of these horses to the auction thinking they would sell for a lot of money and enable them to save the farm. Neither the farm nor the horses were saved - they went almost exclusively to the kill buyer. I can only imagine the sales pitch that led to the original purchase and all of the name-dropping of big name horses. I'm sure they left out all of the training/showing/caring/hard and expensive work information because that would have screwed up the writing of the big checks!)

I just googled the phrase "Goes back to Man O'War" and got almost 300 hits. *snork* You know what I think is the funniest thing about this? Unless you're breeding racehorses, I wouldn't be bragging about this. Man O'War was one of the rankest, most ill-tempered SOB's in history. If he hadn't been so fast, he would have been gelded. And honestly, the bloodline is known for being a little quirky, especially the ones that go through War Admiral. So if I were trying to sell a pleasure horse, as most of these people are, that is not the bloodline I would spotlight.

Here's a Thoroughbred stallion (yes, really - I know it looks nothing like one) that you can buy for the low, low price of $1,950. (Horse prices like that crack me up. We all know you basically want $2K, stop pricing it like it's on sale at Wal-Mart) They proudly announce that his "Remarkable pedigree goes back to Man O'War, Nearco, Bold Ruler. " Uh, that's not so remarkable. How many TB's do you think he has those bloodlines in common with? Yeah, most of them. Other than his UNremarkable pedigree, he's a downhill, swaybacked, short-necked POS who needs his feet done. They claim he is 16.2 but if he is 16.2, that dude in the ad must be a giant! They also describe his pedigree as being Peace Valley x Miss Peace Valley. He's not on Pedigreequery so I can't see the whole thing but that sounds suspiciously like a father-daughter mating to me and if so, is pretty good evidence of why not to do that!

And this isn't a rare example. All over the Internet, you can find ads boasting that a horse has "excellent bloodlines." Well, maybe if you're only counting 30 years ago and prior to that! Most of these horses don't have a single ancestor in the past 3 decades who has accomplished one useful thing. This colt's ad brags that he is a great-great-grandson of Jet Deck and The Ole Man. WHO CARES? What have his parents and grandparents done? Oh yeah, eat and reproduce. He isn't a terrible colt but he's not a very marketable one...colts like him are a dime a dozen out there. I've seen nicer ones auction for $100 - that's just the reality of 2009.

Oh, and then she goes on to say "His conformation is excellent--he could be in the halter ring now!" Um, I guess he could be in there...placing last. This little guy is cow and race bred. That's his potential. In a halter ring, he'd look like someone's pet Quarter pony. Look at the neck, for god's sake. That alone would slam him to the end of the placings. He's no more a halter horse than I am a supermodel. He may be a nice little cutting or barrel horse one day, but he's not a halter horse. Come on people, get real. If you are going to breed, know what the bloodlines you're breeding are good for!

On a final note, I would e-mail Amanda to find out what the "great bloodlines" are here, but I am afraid I may suffer an aneurysm from talking to her...