Thursday, March 18, 2010

Breeding - Linebreeding, Inbreeding and Pedigree Matching

As a breeder, I tend to spend a certain amount of time (okay alot of time!) online and reading books researching and educating myself on breeding.  I don't stop at Miniature Horses though.  Dogs, cattle, rabbits... Google cavies or rabbits (most rodents) with their shorter lifespan, short birthing cycle, there is quite a lot of valuable data out there.  Much of which can be extrapolated and used for breeding horses.

 IMHO, Miniature Horses are too new of a breed (heck we're still classed as a height registry by AMHR, not even a breed!) so we don't have an established "set" standard of what exactly a Miniature Horse is suppose to be yet.  That won't change until AMHR and to a lesser degree AMHA accept that we want this to be a breed not a height registry. 

Look at the image on this AMHA Certificate of Registration - we aren't breeding them to look like that anymore!

Yes, both registries have a "standard" but when you think "Miniature Horse" as to general conformation, you will get a variety of opinions on what the ideal is suppose to be!(assuming no conformation flaws).  It can vary widely from the dishy arab head with a flatter croup to the high moving, short backed AMHR/ASPC dual registered Shetlands and about everything in between.

This is versus all the established equine breeds.  If someone were to mention - Arabian or Quarterhorse or Clydesdale.   Immediately a very clear picture forms  in your mind.
A definite type is set in those breeds.  Minis are not quite there... yet!  

Honestly I've said this before (I've said it often in the past 10 years!), I'd love to see Miniature Horse embrace a variety of the large breeds and have breeders specifically breed for miniaturized Arabians, drafts, stock, riding type horses.  That would be really amazing.  BTW, I 'd be breeding the Mini Fresians.... maybe a few typie black & grey Arabs... ROFL!

It would be hard to judge at a Miniature show, but the diversity and genetic selection necessary to breed for specific large horse characteristics - back to genetics!! lol!!  

Off my soapbox.

Studying the successful lines in Miniature Horses is another fascinating project, especially when you apply the knowledge used in other breeds/species on linebreeding, inbreeding and pedigree matching.  

It's not surprising to see the same names crop up repeatedly when you research lineage.  And I'm not talking just Rowdy or Buckeroo!  There are a number of lines that are prevalent in Miniature Horses (some are more regionalized than others), that have contributed over the decades.

If you are a breeder or plan to become one, I'm of the very strong opinion that both AMHA & AMHR studbooks are necessary tools in breeding.  Not that every horse's pedigree pre-DNA/PQ testing is correct (we've all heard the rumors!), but to be able to check the successful crosses, to your horses siblings, parents, grand-parents, etc., is valuable.

Or if you're a color breeder to check the recorded colors (the phenotype) in both registries versus the genotype.  The fees are money well spent, again in my humble opinion!

What I've found interesting when I'm looking through someone's herd or a new buyer is out here how often the eye goes to certain horses that prove to be from the same genetic lines.  I just find it fascinating how we can find something pleasing to our eye and the horses are closely related.  I noticed this again in the recent AMHA Stallion Showcase.  I'm particularly personally loving the Buckeroo x Redi or Not crosses!

Genetics, breeding theory, coat color, all totally fascinate me, so I thought I'd start sharing some of the articles and books I've uncovered over time this year.

Most of this is dry and boring - if you're not into factual and theoretical breeding practices that is!  But, if you are a breeder you should have the basics of genetics down. If you want to get into linebreeding or even pedigree matching (I love this term and have practiced it long before I knew what it was), you really better know your stock and the risks involved.  It's one of those wonderful when it goes right, oh noes when it goes wrong!
Horse Gquine Genetics & Selection Procedures, Equine Research Inc., Research Staff
David Cavill on Genetic Health (he has a series on Line Breeding too) in Dog breeds.  Some of this is very applicable to horses too!  He's very educated, a bit opinionate but knows his stuff!

Good resources on breeding (Google has pages of others too)

A few of the books I own and refer to: 

Arabian Horse photo - World of Horses USA
Clydesdale photo -

No comments: