Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And you can become a minister through that ad in the back of the Rolling Stone!

I am looking at yet another made-up, b.s. horse registry's web site and cringing at some of the statements on it, particularly the founders having a hissy fit because people are, gasp, gelding some of the "foundation" stock.

Oh, and that was in between cringing at some of the pictures on their page!

So let's talk about how you can recognize a reputable horse registry. How do you figure out which registries are valid and meaningful?

Let's start by talking about why we have registries at all.
The main reason we register horses is so that we have a record - a verifiable record - of the horse's parentage. This allows us to avoid genetic defects, avoid extreme inbreeding or crosses considered unsuitable, and make intelligent decisions when we're trying to breed for a specific purpose. After all, if you're trying to breed jumpers, it makes more sense to pick a broodmare who is sired by a famous jumper as opposed to one that is sired by a cowhorse!

A good registry has a primary goal of improving the breed of horse. That's why most have authorized shows and other competitions where horses can prove themselves and increase their desirability, thus making it more likely that the best horses will produce the most offspring.

We also want to know who is producing the best horses! A registry allows us to track which breeders are most successful. Again, this rewards that breeder and helps to shore up the value of their horses.

Some registries have approval procedures where young horses must be inspected for conformation, movement and athleticism before they may produce registered foals. I am a big fan of this but agree that it'd be harder to do it for something like AQHA due to the variations in type. Quarter Horses and other stock breeds, Arabians, etc. that are used for a wide range of events are more diverse in type than, for example, warmbloods that are pretty much 100% bred for dressage/jumping and nothing else. So while I like the idea of approvals for every breed, it is a more complicated idea to implement for the more all-around breeds. Still, I surely would not cry if AQHA said that you couldn't register foals from any stallion that had not earned a ROM or its equivalent in some type of performance.

On the human end, registries provide many awards and incentives that encourage people to compete with their horses. The tracking of genetic defects discourages people from breeding horses with those defects because it becomes impossible to keep secret, even if you're disreputable enough to try to do so!

So if you review all of those reasons to register horses, registries like this International Spotted Horse Registry look competely pointless - which they are. First of all, they accept horses with unknown parentage, so there goes any chance of tracking anything. Secondly, their idea of a show circuit is online photo shows, even though they have been around since 1990? Give me a break. If you have been around since 1990 and can't pull together a real-life horseshow, it is time to hang it up. Third, there's no breed standard - no conformational ideal. The only standard has to do with color! How do you improve the breed when there is no standard? Fourth, no mention of any testing for genetic defects, even though accepting ANY spotted horse means they are likely to have HYPP, HERDA and more within their registry.

The only thing they really seem to have mastered is installation of the good old Paypal button! They will take your money to register horses in their imaginary registry and compete in photo shows. Good grief. P.T. Barnum was right!

P.S. Free web hosting and ALL CAPS are two more signs your registry might not exactly be the next big thing. Just a helpful hint!

P.P.S. Previous blog on Why Papers Matter - read this before you make the same old arguments about your amazing, great, wonderful Perchapparabian. I do not deny he may exist and be wonderful, but I would never recommend deliberately making more of him. Especially not in this economy!