Updated: Mar 14, 2011
Roseburg, Oregon USA
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"Breeding horses is like putting together pieces to a puzzle, placing the gene pool together into a lovely picture. Sometimes it works..... sometimes it doesn't. The breeder must know when to look for better pieces".
The History of the
American Saddlebred began in the 1600's. Through selective breeding
the ASB has become a very versatile, elegant yet powerful moving horse that
we see today.
Breeding Saddle Type Pintos By Kit Calafato
I have been breeding Saddle Type Pintos at Spotz Farm for some time. They are exciting, fun and profitable. The gene pool is limited, so, there are challenges. If you want to breed a good Saddle Type Pinto, you must first take the “pinto spots off” and look at the conformation of the horse. Ask yourself, “Does this horse look like the saddle type breed standard? Is this horse built with an upright carriage? Does this horse move with an exhilarating forward motion? Is this horse willing and does this horse possess courage?” The latter is a training discovery and not always apparent until the horse is put in the leather.
Beginning with the question of “breed Standard”, let’s look to the American Saddlebred horse as it is a major contributor to the Saddle Type look. Let’s also hope that the breeder is knowledgeable in the terms of conformation as it relates to the function of the horse.
Stamped on every registration paper of an American Saddlebred horse is a picture of the breed standard. Examine carefully the conformation and look of this horse. Ask yourself, “Does my pinto Saddle Type look like this horse?” In order to function like a saddle type your horse will have to be built with an upright neck that comes high out of the withers into a flexible throatlatch that can comfortably carry a bridle. Next, your horse will need a long, laid back shoulder that is boldly prominent and well defined. This shoulder will carry the front legs of the horse “upward and forward” and allow the horse to “wave his arms” smoothly and effortlessly.
(Always keep in mind that we should never ask a horse to perform a physical function he is not capable of doing. If a horse is not built right, it will be very hard for him to be an athlete and we want to produce athletes.)
A comparatively short back, long hip and powerful hindquarters will drive the animal forward and is the source of forward motion. Hocks that are set relatively low can drive up under the animal and transfer this powerful energy forward and upward. Straight clean legs with good bone, along with good dense hooves will keep your horses sound.
All of this conformation is great, but, what makes a champion is ambition and courage, so, let’s examine the heart.
Courage and ambition are part of the disposition of the horse and this trait is definitely inheritable. Horses who rise to the challenges that we give them in the show arena are truly a marvel. I have seen in many instances a horse that does not have the best of conformation excel in the performance arena by ambition and courage. They seem to just figure out what we want and go for the gold. These horses possess great hearts and they just have a burning desire to perform. I look for this trait very seriously in my breeding animals. What good is it to have perfect conformation and no game? How many times have we seen trainers struggling with animals trying to train them to do something they just don’t want to do? Sometimes it is conformation that prevents them from being a success and sometime it is the lack of courage and ambition. Horses with correct conformation are not only beautiful, but also functional. A horse with ambition and courage can succeed. And now let’s get back to those pinto spots.
When we breed for color, we have an additional challenge. Color patterns can be deceiving and distorting. Sometimes they can add to the “look” of good conformation and sometimes take away from it. A breeder must develop a good eye and not be “color blind to the pattern or the color.
It is very helpful to take a picture of the horse and simply color the horse solid and evaluate the conformation
By taking the pinto spots off, the attributes and faults of the horse are more easily seen. The breeder will not be distracted by the color and the pinto pattern.
Marketing horses is all part of the breeding business. If you want to be successful, breed something that the buying public wants. Many breeder cling to their various breeding programs unable to make the improvements necessary to be competitive. It is either because they wish to stay within a certain bloodline, color, or just because it is easier. If a breeder is going to produce good pintos, they must “breed out” to the best producing horses. A breeder must choose champion horses or top futurity producing sires for at least one of their best mares. In this way, all of us can continue to bring in new pinto horses and improve the growing gene pool.
Analyze your breeding program and try to overcome genetic faults. Make honest evaluation of your breeding horses or pay a professional for an evaluation. Select mares and stallions that will produce superior offspring and cull the ones who don’t meet the standard.
Don’t become “barn blind”. Just because you own the horse, doesn’t mean that it is the cat’s meow.
When marketing your pinto horses, get good videos and pictures before offering them for sale. A prompt and complete response to inquiries will optimize the success of your sale. Be honest with your buyers and send them information that best represents the horse. Keep in touch with your buyers and exchange knowledge that will benefit the betterment of the breed. In this way, you can build a network of good horse breeders and friends. The most rewarding part of the horse business will be the friends you make and information you will learn.
The breeding of saddle type pintos is challenging. Look for correct upright conformation that can drive forward with effortless motion. Choose bloodlines of courage and ambition. Breed to the best horses and not just what is in your back yard. Prepare for your buyers and promote your farm and horses honestly. Learn all you can, breed better horses and make lifelong friends along the way.