Thursday, March 26, 2015

breeding and bloodlines and a small small world

My knowledge of bloodlines and pedigree is limited, to say the least. But it's something that is slowly rising on my horizon - especially after reading about other bloggers' experiences and knowledge (The $900FB Pony recently posted about why bloodlines are important), and reading Denny Emerson's book How Good Riders Get Good. 

who wouldn't want to know more about this face?

Last September I did a little research on Isabel's pedigree and learned that her sire is Admiral Harnly, who is still owned by his breeder Ann McKay. And in fact, Ann is quite famous through the region for producing quality sport horses - Aazrak being her exceptional first stallion. 




Take a look at recent horses from Ann McKay's website if you're interested in seeing Isabel's extended family (and more than a couple doppelgangers!).


but there can ever only be one

So why am I writing about this now? One of Amanda's points in her post linked above was that Americans tend to be a bit uneducated on this subject - much to the detriment of the future of our various sports. But if you go abroad, many horsemen could tell you about any given horse's bloodlines more readily than they could say the horse's name. 


This point was high on my mind when an unassuming gentleman approached me at the schooling show last weekend (his teen daughter was riding). He asked (in what I believe was an Irish accent, but could be wrong), 'Lovely horse - what breed?' 'Ah, Arabian, eh? How old?' and 'Interesting - do you happen to know her breeding?'



Lots of people ask if she's an Arabian (like it's a novelty) - but nobody has ever asked about her breeding. Imagine my surprise when he said - 'Ah yes, Admiral! I thought so. They all look the same - chestnut, socks, blaze down to the lip. Very nice - we have a "G" horse - you know they were named alphabetically by year?' 


So this guy picked Isabel out of a crowd as an Admiral baby, and very gently poked and prodded to see if I knew it myself haha. He even asked to take a picture to send to Ann (!!!!). Obviously I said yes (but silently kicked myself for not cleaning her up better or giving her a nicer running braid... we looked slightly frazzled, to say the least). And unfortunately I failed to get his name, or tell him that we are actually trying to event (rather than putzing around the hunter ring like outcasts). 



Fast forward to the next day when Isabel and I went to the new fancy pants dressage barn for our lesson with trainer C. We arrived a bit later than intended since I missed a turn along the way, and I felt a little harried trying to get everything all set up at the trailer. 

A woman saw us and asked if I needed help. Normally I can get a little prickly at the suggestion that maybe I don't quite have things under control (not very generous of me, I know) - but I got the impression that she was asking for reasons beyond that (esp bc Isabel was standing quietly as always...). So I accepted her offer and wasn't disappointed. 


She held the mare while I tacked and immediately started asking about Isabel and her breeding. Turns out she bred Arabians for years, and had her own Arab stallion until he was 34. So she was quite familiar with Ann's program and horses (and knows a good deal more about it than I do). 




My mind was kinda blown by these two fairly similar back-to-back interactions. And while I was able to answer the most basic of questions about Isabel's pedigree (her sire), it's clear that there's much more to learn. 


We joke about Baltimore being a small town (Smaltimore) - and everyone knows the horse community can be a miniature world unto itself. So it's been really interesting to me that Isabel is actually quite recognizable in her own right. Definitely motivation to learn more about her and the breeding program that produced her sire!

35 comments:

  1. That's pretty awesome actually! A lot of people ask me about Pig's breeding at dressage shows, but they go away quickly the moment I open my mouth and say "thoroughbred"

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    1. aww poor Pig! idk why so many ppl are anti TB...

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  2. That's pretty cool that Isabel is so easily recognized. I didn't realize Arabians were so popular in this area.

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    1. i never realized it either (and had zero experience with arabs before meeting isabel). so idk if arabs in general are popular, or if the breeding programs that produced quality sport horse arabs and arab crosses were popular bc the horses were just that nice and prolific?

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    2. This is so cool!!

      And yes, Arabs are popular in this region, throughout MD and VA. There is a big endurance community here and so the breeding programs tend to be really good too: to make a good endurance horse, an Arab has to have the metabolics, the temperament and the athleticism to go all day on an unknown trail while taking care of himself and his rider. These qualities translate to other sports as well! The Asgard Arabians out of WV are highly covered for endurance in the region and several have gone on to compete at Tevis.

      I've never seen so many Arabs while boarding. At every barn I've kept my horse at in MD, there have been multiple Arabs. And now I board at a place that used to breed Crabbetts. The BO barely advertises and she still has people knocking on her door, interested in her horses. :) I'm not familiar with specific bloodlines either but how awesome that people recognize Isabel's type!

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    3. *highly coveted, not "covered"! Dumb phone!

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    4. interesting!!! from what i understand, Aazrak was successful in many different disciplines (including competitive trail riding - ~50milers), and some other horses in the program sired successful endurance horses - but this particular program seemed to focus more on eventing and jumping and therefore produced a lot of arab crosses too.

      i don't know enough about the breed in general to know how the arabs from Ann's program might be different from (or similar to) those bred specifically for endurance, but it's interesting to think about!

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  3. That is so cool!! How neat that there is a little Arabian community right where you live. No one has ever heard of a German Riding Pony and I feel like some people think I am making it up!

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    1. i had never heard of a german riding pony before either haha - but saw one recently and thought of you haha

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    2. i've heard of them, probably because I am a horse geek who reads breed encyclopedias. ;). I saw one last weekend, though his owners called him a German Sport Horse because though his parents were German Riding Ponies, he was over 14.2 hands, so he was technically not a pony.

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    3. reading breed encyclopedias is actually really cool haha :)

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  4. Very cool! I had been meaning ask what her bloodlines were for obvious reasons lol I have been working on a post about Quest's pedigree; it'll be interesting to see if our girls share any family (:

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    1. that will be interesting!! it's entirely possible, the program that produced isabel was booming for decades, with hundreds and hundreds of foals produced

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  5. Isn't it nice to be able to converse about this stuff? Good for you.

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    1. thanks - i definitely wish i knew more!

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  6. The horse world is a funny small world! I am obsessed with looking up Henry's relatives :)

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    1. it really is crazy small haha...

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  7. Education opens doors that is certain.

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  8. How very interesting and timely! That is so neat!

    I have a friend that owns a chestnut arab with socks and a stripe. I will have to ask about her breeding! :) How cool.

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    1. oooh absolutely! i think they frequently have a little bit of roaning too

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  9. What fun! I immediately abandoned your post to see if I couldn't learn about Ellie but didn't get very far. So neat to know your horses history!

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    1. aww bummer about not finding much about Ellie. i'm fortunate that isabel's owner bought her from her breeder, so at least getting the starting details was easy enough

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  10. Very cool that two people picked her out in such a short time frame!
    I'm quite keen to have a look into my own horse's breeding now actually!

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    1. i couldn't really believe it, honestly haha. and you should look into it - never know what you'll find!

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  11. I should look more into Baby's breeding. It might be helpful to those looking for pinto hunter horses that aren't super expensive warmbloods :P

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    1. yes you totally should!! knowledge is power, right? :)

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  12. So neat that people not only recognize her as an Arabian, but also have a good idea as to her breeding! I'm forever explaining that my two are in fact, a 'pony' breed even though they are large-ish. I have to admit to checking out Isabel's breeding on one of your earlier posts - her sire really caught my eye, definitely my type of sport horse!

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    1. yea he's a good looking guy - not at all what i would picture when thinking of an arabian (tho my previous lack of experience made me think all arabians looked like the halter-bred arabs... not true!). if you're interested, i'm about 87% sure he's still producing foals!! ;)

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  13. That's so cool that people know her breeding just by looking at her. I know a bit a bout Thoroughbred pedigrees but if you ask me about pedigrees of other breeds I couldn't tell you anything. Well, at least I'm not completely clueless about pedigrees.

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    1. not being totally clueless is definitely a plus! i'm pretty much nearly completely ignorant of everything except for my own horse... but definitely want to learn more now !

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  14. That's so funmy that you got asked about her bloodlines twice so close together! My mind would be blown also

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    1. it was kinda nuts. like, ppl ask alllllll the time if she's an arab so that doesn't really surprise me any more, but to ask specifically about breeding? it's just not something i've ever really heard discussed before haha

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