Are you treating your horse for who they are, or are you pigeonholing/stereotyping your horse?
The most common reasons Barrel Racers buy or breed barrel racing prospects are:
- they want to replicate what they currently have
- they want to replicate what they have had in the past
- they want to replicate what someone else currently has or has had
“Bred the Same” does not mean “The Same Horse” will be reproduced. Although bloodlines can be exactly the same, the resulting individuals CAN BE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. Yes, ENTIRELY. adjective: same 1. identical; not different.
We can determine the ODDS of breeding a Stallion and a Mare and know what the physical and personality traits MAY turn out to be, (Click to see our article Breeding Pedigrees and Odds of Outcomes) but once the foal hits the ground, you need to put aside what you WANTED THE HORSE TO BE and now WHAT YOU HAVE is the most important thing to consider, both in PHYSICAL & PERSONALITY TRAITS.
Meet Abracadabra (Bay) and Squiggles (Grey).
These mares are full sisters, same Top and Bottom side, 1 year apart. Their mom Michelle is taking the Take Time off the Clock workshop and the first thing we did for Michelle was to identify HOW they were built very differently in their skeletal structure and conformation ratios and WHY they need some differences in their path and their circles to both have success in the barrel pen. They both have a strength to length ratio of 2 to 1, but that is where the bulk of their structural and conformation similarities end. The overall bio mechanics of how they are built to move, ESPECIALLY IN A CIRCLE are very different. Michelle owned a tremendous gelding Jet, who she had a lot of success with. Jet was sired by Crimewave. The dam to Squiggles and Abracadabra was also sired by Crimewave. Jet & Squiggles display more typical characteristics of the Crimewave lineage than Abracadabra does, but when we compared Jet & Squiggles, they had more physical similarities, but still didn’t have the exact same bio-mechanics. These sibling are not a “one off” for being different. Dominant and recessive genes give you all kinds of combinations and ratios for bio-mechanics. The same hip does not mean the horse will have the same center of balance, shoulder, etc, but these factors all determine how their body is designed to move.
Michelle wrote a great blog article called “Horses Don’t Give a Damn” which you can read by clicking here.
Physiologists have long argued the “Nature vs Nurture” and their importance or lack of importance in determining personalities traits. They argue whether environment or DNA has a bigger weight factor in your personality and again I can assure you, that although two siblings can share the same nature and nurture, they still don’t have the same personalities, both in character strength or deficiency. Abracadabra and Squiggles have very different personalities and how they deal with challenges is also different, despite having identical breeding, nature and nurture.
As a human, it is frustrating being compared to someone you are related to, as having the same character as you, when that isn’t the case. This is just as frustrating for a horse. It is easy to set unreasonable expectations and limitations, even if it is only subconsciously, based on how you WANTED in that prospect.
People like to revisit the past with rose colored glasses, because it is easy to glorify and only focus on what was good. Our memory quickly erases the challenges and what was unpleasant or unsuccessful. If you focus on what you had or what was, you will never be present enough to be successful on what is. This can be applied to horses your are bringing back from injury or time off also. If a certain movement or personality trait is sentimental and reminds you of something you had before, there is nothing wrong with being nostalgic, but just keep it in that moment and then carry on. Make sure WHAT IS happening is always in the forefront.
Creating any type of expectation for a horse by its bloodlines alone is a sure recipe for failure.
Forget your horses breeding for a minute and take a step back and let your horse show you WHAT and WHO they ARE in skeletal structure, movement, character and personality, WITHOUT the expectations, pressure and weight of What you Wanted when you bred them, or chose them as a prospect. It will open up a whole new world of possibilities.