Taylor A. Flury
Breeding For The Right Job
My first true jumper was an older mare who knew the ropes. She had shown in the grand prixs before moving down to do the junior jumpers with the Jayne Family. I then was lucky enough to have her come into my life; her name was Viva La Rose. She was my schoolmaster and helped me to learn, all the while having so much fun in the children’s jumper ring. I could not have asked for a better first partner. She was older when it was finally my turn to learn from her and while we knew that she had amassed quite a show record here in the states and that she was a lovely mare; we did not know her lineage or where she came from. She had a Holsteiner brand and unique markings; we knew that she was from Germany and we had an approximation of the year she was born. After about two years of showing her, she became hurt on the trailer ride home from Florida and because she would need time to rest and heal, we decided to breed her.
One of my biggest pet peeves if you ask anyone around me is that I do not think a mare should be bred just because she is able to be bred; nor do I think every male horse should be kept a stallion. I once met a lady who had about 20 horses she had bred that she could not find a suitable job for. They all had terrible conformation, which led to soundness problems, and yet she kept rebreeding because she loved her “babies.” What was going to happen to all these horses though if something happened to her or she could not afford them? I love all of my horses too but I also recognize that we cannot just breed because we want foals. There are so many horses in this world that are starving to death or that need homes. If all you want is a cute baby, perhaps you should consider a rescue foal. We need to breed horses that are able to do a job.
That job may be trail riding, packing a kid around short stirrup, or winning the Olympics, but unless they are able to do a job well they may not a good life. A horse that has terrible conformation and cannot stay sound will be in pain. Of course, I will be the first to admit though that a horse can have conformation and soundness issues and still be a winner, because it is all about the heart and training. This is where a great attitude and personality come through. A horse with a rotten attitude might be considered dangerous and nobody will want to deal with it or it may be abused. As both mare and stallion owners it must be our responsibility to determine whether that horse should reproduce.
That means picking the right stallion and the right mare (how to choose your match will come in a later blog). If you choose two well-built, nice tempered horses you will at least wind up with a horse that will be able to do something well. We all know that as the old saying goes, “breeding is a crap shoot.” The point I am trying to make though, is that if you pick a good sire and dam you will end up with a horse that will have a purpose to life. You have to start right in order to have a chance of “finishing” right. It may not be exactly what you were hoping for but for the most part genetics do carry through. Attitude, I think, has to be one of the most important characteristics of horses we breed because even if they are not the most athletic horse a well-tempered horse will have an easier chance of finding a good home.
Several years ago, I joined the BWP Studbook and began volunteering for the Keuring tour every summer. I did this because I wanted to give back to the industry and also to learn as much as I could from people more knowledgeable than me. One of our main goals at the BWP is to offer support to people who want to breed responsibly. We try to help them understand about conformation and the large role it plays in breeding. We also talk about the importance of breeding quality not quantity. We know just how expensive it is to breed horses and as such is it not better to breed one really good mare to one really good stallion, than to breed 5 mares to average stallions. There are many good breeding associations that will offer advice to people looking to breed; these can be such valuable tools that people can utilize in their endeavors.
No matter what breed of horse or discipline arena you are breeding for it is important to start with two good parents.