Saturday, February 1, 2014

Musings on the Challenges of Breeding

If there's one thing I've learned in decades of involvement with breeding sport horses - it's that breeding is difficult. Really difficult. We admire the Europeans' skill at it, but the reality is that European breeders have made some spectacular mistakes over the years too, and they still disagree vehemently about the right way to go about breeding. French breeders have sold stallions out of the country that they later regretted selling, for example, and German breeders are just as apt to be seduced by a foal's flashy trot as American ones. There are disagreements about whether to breed primarily for talent or temperament, whether "dressage bloodlines" and "jumping bloodlines" should be separate goals - or whether they are even different.

Each breeding decision - each cross between an individual stallion and a mare - is a gamble. Conscientious breeders improve their odds by researching pedigrees and past crosses, learning from their own and others' experiences, and analyzing a mare's strengths and weaknesses (individual and genetic).

As the world economy continues to struggle, I wish the best to all the North American breeders in their plans for 2014.