Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Good Horses Come From Good Mares

Throughout history Stallions and stallion lines have claimed much of the fame and fortune in the equine breeding industry. This is for one reason and one reason only...sheer reproductive numbers. The numbers just aren't on the side of the mare. But that doesn't mean that good breeders have ignored the value of a good mare.

In reproductive terms though, a good mare is not necessarily a mare who has won a lot of accolades herself. She may well be an outstanding performer possessing every attribute we seek, style, femininity and perfect conformation...or she may be a non-descript, poorly put together, never been rode reproductive queen. Either way, they leave us their legacy and pass down remarkeable traits, generation after generation.

There is a status name given to mares that consistently outproduced themselves, irregardless of what stallion they were bred too and that is a "Blue Hen". These rare and exceptional mares, no matter their own faults, possess in their DNA the ability to consistently produce get and grandget and great-grandget and so on down the line, who have the ability to surpass both dam and sire. Often, they transend "event" specific ability too. A "blue hen" bred to one type of stallion will produce get that are exception in one area and bred to a totally different stallion produce get that excel in another area. Nonetheless, they stamp their produce with certain abilities that only they have the ability to pass down.

In case anyone ever wondered how I pick bloodlines to talk about?...for the most part they are bloodlines our own herd possess or bloodlines that my family have had, raised and used over the generations. We do not inbreed or linebreed(unless the linebreeding is incidental). I guess if you had to categorize our breeding program, we would be considered "nick" breeders. We utilized someone else's successful inbreeding/linebreeding program and crossed those mares on a complimentary stallion. Now we take those mares and are crossing them on another intensely linebred stallion. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel though. We are "nicking" bloodlines that have already proven they work.

So on to one of my favorite "blue hen" mares... FL Lady Bug

This mare was inducted into the AQHA Hall Of Fame in 1999. Her produce are legendary and have infiltrated a number of specialized events. Besides her most obvious success producing outstanding race horses, the FL Lady Bug blood flows like water in the rodeo world.

Not surprising(to me) is the fact that you will also find her located in Western Pleasure and Hunter Under Saddle horses.

Zip's Hot Chocolate anyone???

An outstanding HUS horse carrying her bloodlines is Shawne Lake...

Of course, if you want to see a high concentration of horses that carry this great mare's blood, you don't have to look any farther than the NFR.

We have all drooled over the amazing Sugar Moon Express...aka...Martha...

But nearly every horse that competed in the Barrel Racing at the NFR carry at least one line to her. A person shouldn't be surprised to find a good number of the team roping, calf roping and steer wrestling horses also carry at least one line that traces back to her too. Crossed on a "cow" bred horse-the Lady Bugs are everything their bloodlines say they should be...fast and cowy!!

I can feel the nay-sayers of extended pedigrees shaking their heads. How is it possible that a single cross 4 or 5 generations back could possibly contribute to the success of a modern competitive horse? That my friends is simple...because the FL Lady Bug's were good horses and even the few who were not "as successful" as the majority were still bred to more good horses. The Lady Bugs were nicely made, had good bone, better than most dispositions, a can-do attitude and they consistently passed that on. This is the reason she is considered one of, if not the most prepotent "Blue Hen" mare in history.

There is more...much, much more on this mare and the impact that she has had over the years...along with her mother...and a half sister out of the same mare. And then there is her pedigree...which falls right in line with the inbreeding/linebreeding things I have been on a roll with...


cdncowgirl said...

I'll be the first to admit that I know very little, if anything, about bloodlines. That is why I owe you a huge thanks for all the posting you're doing on the subject!
Most people that I've run into act as if I'm an idiot if I don't know all this. And IF they deign to talk about it with me they go either way over my head or they don't give enough info.
You're doing a great job and I can't wait to read more!

kdwhorses said...

I too don't know alot about bloodlines. I love this post, your's are always educational! you rock girl!
BTW~I would so love to bred my mare! We have started looking for the right stud, I'm not just going to bred her to bred her. You know what I'm talking about! I would love it if we could find a stud like her Dad, man he is such a horse. It will probably still be a couple of years, I need Willis to be alittle further along.

SunnySD said...

Interestingly enough, traditionally the Bedouins in the Middle East considered the mare the better of the two sexes as war mounts, and they traced a horse's bloodlines back through the dam's side rather than the sire's.

The "family" names of the old Arabian bloodlines (Al Khamsa Arabians) are based the names of the tribes or sheiks who owned the best mares. They prized good mares highly, rode them into battle, and treated them as well or better than family members. The various strains became known for and recognizable by passing on certain traits and qualities to their descendants.

The focus seems to be more on the stallions anymore, though.

Stephanie said...

Aww I love Lady Bug!

Great Post! I read up on her when I spotted her in the bloodlines of some very nice WP horses.

Mares are such a great subject - there are many that I love, like Rosita Bonanza, Boston Sonora, Zippos Bay Lady, Tamara Wes, Woohoo Baby - to name a few...

I wanted so bad to include mares in my WP and HUS posts but it would have made them so long!

Andrea said...

I was always told that a mare was 80% of the breeding. Never underestimate the power of a great mare!!

Great post!!

Rising Rainbow said...

I'm with you on the value of mares. And certainly serious Arabian breeders still feel that way. I am hoarding my stallion's daughters already knowing what great producers they are going to be just by looking at their dams and their dams before them.

You can learn a lot about looking back through the bloodlines. I know what I'm looking for when I trace back. There are particular bloodlines to me that insure consistency in quality and type along with great minds and athletic ability. For me that's what it's all about.

Even though the hot stallions get lots of attention, they come and go like the tides.....but a good mare is priceless. That's what's going to save my b*tt in this tough market.........good mares that have produced outstanding individuals.

ezra_pandora said...

I figured there would be less mares because they can only have so many babies in their lifetime. lol

And I'm with cdn, everyone talks about lines like no big deal and I just kinda sit there and smile and nod because I have no clue. lol I am learning some though, especially on here :) Everytime someone talks about a certain horse, I run to look it up and then look to see if my mare is connected in any way. It's fun.

Melanie said...

This is a great tribute to a great mare....er...Blue Hen!!!

And I agree with you about mares being overlooked. In our society it is all about male dominance, isn't it??? Even in the horse world...lol!!!

Hurray for the mares!!(Even though I prefer geldings...teeheeheee!!!!)

Jocelyn said...

Zips Hot Chocolate makes me drooooool.

Thank you for the breeding posts, I have learned so much! I reread them often.

I just want to be edumacated on my next purchase :)

C-ingspots said...

I couldn't agree more! Mares do not get enough credit for their value (in our society at least). I've always thought that they are a huge contributor to the outcome of their foals and more so than the stallion. Stallion owners are all about bringing in the money and getting as many foals on the ground as possible. The mare is responsible for matters of the mind and definitely color, not to mention athleticism. Praise the mares!! Great post!

Laura said...

Thanks for another great post! Keep 'em coming if you can...

All I know are popular names from bloodlines - before you, Steph and Chelsi started doing these posts, I couldn't tell you what discipline the names went with!

Deanna said...

You are so right, the Stallions get all the glory, and without a good mare where would they be?