The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

Need a lil’ help from you guys…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on February 20, 2010

I am working on one of the sections of my proposal for better management and would like to ask of you all a question pertinent to the subject matter:

When you go to purchase a horse, what are the first questions that you ask? Which questions, or rather which qualities, do you feel are the most important?

Your answers will help in the formation of the proposed option’s details. I greatly appreciate any input you guys can offer.

Thanks a million! T.


18 Responses to “Need a lil’ help from you guys…”

  1. I’ll have to think a bit more about this. The FIRST thing I do is look at the horse – his general bearing, how he’s taking MY presence, the look in his eyes. I can’t really put it into words. But, to me, this is the most important part. If we get past this part I’ll ask about general behavioral issues, amount of training, what he’s done if anything. All the while keeping my real attention on the horse and the “little things” he does.

    I guess I follow my gut more than my mind! But see, I’ve only purchased four horses in my 33 years as a horse owner. And two of those are the ones I have now. Still, they ALL worked out great. ;o)

    • said

      Do bloodlines have any bearing on the decision to consider the horse to begin with, and then any bearing on whether or not to purchase the horse if all of the other factors are acceptable?

      • R.Thompson said

        Absolutely, from my perspective. That is partially driven by my affection for the working cow horse type of American Quarter Horse. In a prior life it was the same for the athletic Hanoverian and Holsteiner breeds. With quarter hroses, I prefer old foundation lines, of the “working variety”, as we’ve discussed previously off line, which means shorter stature and stronger legs and feet. As we’ve also talked about, I would seek to avoid any taint of HyperKPP such as that within the Impressive lineages….even the heterozygous types where the effect may not be easily seen, but is passable 50% of the time. I do the same thing with my dog purchases or recommendations…always check the pedigree.

        Once that is done, I do try to get a feel for the horse as Suzanne Moore says above, then before any decision is made I check the feet and bone and sructure. No feet, no bone, no leg, no brain = no horse…in that order for me. Vis a Vis Suzanne’s remarks: Once we bought a horse, other wise qualified for pedigree (old Johnny Dial line)and the phsycial aspects, because, while looking him and others over, a handler of him erred and there was an accident and he became entangled in a wire fence. He did not panic…and let me untangle him without struggle or harm to either of us. We took him home and he lived a full life with us. That’s the kind of horse I want under me in open coutnry over rough ground.

        • That’s almost EXACTLY what happened to me with my first Morgan! He was only 4, and he got tangled in the wire fence, and he just stood there while someone rushed over and untangled him. He wasn’t the least bit upset over it either. I bought him on the spot (after a vet check, of course)!

          We had wonderful adventures together for 20 years. When he passed away in 2002, I got another Morgan. I’ve had this one ever since, and I’ve never seen him blow his cool over anything. Too nosy to be nervous.

          • OMG! That’s so horrible for him! I know what you mean though. Have had a few over the years who have done the same. What I always wanted to say to each of them was “Just how did you get yourself into this per-dicker-ment!?” (That’s Texan / Southern for predicament! LOL)

      • Blood lines don’t mean as much to me as they would for someone who is planning to breed the horse in question. Since I’m not going to breed, I concentrate more on the individual and his own history – if he’s old enough to HAVE a history that is. ;o)

  2. sandra longley said

    bloodlines are the first thing I look at-but then-I am a breeder-still-conformation is important and there are certain things that would absolutely cause me to reject a horse-for any purpose-disposistion is important-but human negative interaction can be reflected in animal attitudes-some of the hardest babies are the ones that are never disciplined by their mothers..or foals that have been spoiled by their handlers.

  3. All:
    What does a bloodline tell you about a horse?
    (Next comment and further explanation coming in just a few, just wanted to shoot that out to you guys right quick.)

    • R.Thompson said

      Bloodline foretells potential. It’s no guarantee, but if the sire and dam have a performance record, it implies better odds that you will get it. Given all favorable physical characteristics and no unfavorable social ones, blood generally tells in my experience. If I see a particulat horse that I immediatedly like, the first question I’d likely ask is who is he/she out of…and if unknown to me, I still look the horse over carfully, then go research the pedigree, if there is one. I’ve seen grade horses with only one ranked registered parent turn out to be superior performance horses…so yes, there is always a bit of luck of the draw in all of it. You can get fine dogs from a rescue or a pound, but each is an individual judgement call…if you know at least half of the pedigree, if any, it tells you more. With horses, as with dogs, there are certain lines you can almost tell by appearance. That can be bad as often as not…but if it interests you, you should look in to it more.

  4. If you knew the bloodlines of a mustang up for adoption or sale, would that make the mustang more desirable to adopt? What if we could begin a bloodline tracing of these horses, keep the records up to date, and then “market” their offspring that are gathered and placed for adoption or sale?
    I think we are all on the same page here when it comes to what qualities we look for in a horse, and that we all look at bloodlines from the start. They tell us what kind of abilities the horse might possess, where his aptitude skills may lie, and what medical issues we could possibly expect from his genetics. Bloodlines tell us what a colt’s conformation may be once he has matured based on what his ancestors’ conformations were. They tell us a great deal about the horse without ever even being seen, worked, ridden, or evaluated.
    There are two positive points to this line of thought.
    First, knowing the bloodline of a mustang could be another point for the positive side of adopting mustangs versus buying domestically bred horses. For the most part (excepting of course certain bloodlines in the domesticated world) mustangs are hardier, have better feet and footing, live longer, are less prone to disease and illness, and are better “easy keepers” than domestically bred horses once they have been trained properly.
    No, we would not begin breeding operations off the range. This would have to be a project that included horses on the range and off the range, but only those who were not yet adopted. Allowing already-adopted horses into the project would only further increase the amount of unwanted horses as a result of previous adopters breeding their mustangs to get in on the market potential. And the wild horses who were adopted as a result of this marketing could not be allowed to breed either. Some form of sterilization would have to be in place. Otherwise we would just be adding to the already out-of-hand population problem of both wild and domestic horses.
    If we could somehow “tag” the horses in the wild – have some sort of identification system that was a little bit more accurate than just a picture and a few lines of description – we could show what the offspring of that stud became once they were adopted/sold and trained. Then we could show what the potential of his other offspring may be much in the same way we do with domesticated bloodlines.
    The amazing intelligence and aptitudes of mustangs are broad and widespread to say the least. Just the other day I saw a website showcasing mustangs from the range – mature mustangs at that – who were placing in the top 5 in upper levels of dressage competitions. Dressage! Training for dressage is a long process, and only the best of the best are even accepted for this training regimen. And yet, here were these mustangs who had been adopted off of the range at ages greater than 4 years old who were not only performing dressage but were excelling at it!
    Mustangs as cow horses are superb! Their keen wits and quick footing allows them be some of the best cutting and roping horses out there, some even rivaling the likes of the Poco Lena / Doc Bar bloodlines.
    I could go on about all the great jobs that they are more than capable of performing, but we would be here all night. Suffice it to say that they are exceptional horses who are commonly overlooked due to their lack of “bloodlines” by those in the horse world who demand that bloodlines be intact and adequate before they would even consider a horse, much less take on the lengthy and expensive training processes for some regimens.
    I think we can all agree that we do not want any horse to suffer needlessly from an affliction if it could be prevented. So my second point is that if we were able to trace the bloodlines of the mustangs on the range in HMAs, we would be able to better distinguish which gene pools should be thinned and which gene pools should be supplemented. This is already being practiced in the Pryor herd thanks to Matt Dillon at the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Center. Matt has been doing a genealogy project on the horses for some time now with great success.
    The BLM conducts gathers, and unless a miracle happens they will continue to have the necessity to conduct gathers to control the populations. When the horses are gathered on HMAs that have releases back to the range, they are sometimes “reassigned”, such as sending a stud back to the range with a different mare than he came in with, or vice versa. This is usually done as a result of young mares that are still with their birth harem and as a result end up with inbreeding. Obviously, this is not desirable.
    And say for instance that there was a genetic disorder that was present in an adopted mustang that caused considerable illness or injury to the horse. Who’s to say that this same genetic disorder would not be passed on to countless others by the carrier horse? If we were able to trace which horse was the carrier, we could reduce the number of offspring afflicted by sterilizing said carrier.
    Additionally, if there were traits and qualities that were desirable – such as a better immune system, hardier body conditions, or even the Russian “curly” horses on the range – we could trace which horses were carriers for these traits and supplement their gene pool by leaving them in place versus removal and subsequent sterilization, and by placing horses who were more likely to produce these traits in the same harems versus harems that had a less likely chance.
    Of course, there is much more planning to be done and many more details to be worked out to this whole idea. However, if it were taken seriously – if it were given serious consideration and was implemented strictly – it just might work. More horses being adopted = less horses in long term holding facilities = less taxpayer dollars and happier horses because they would have a purpose again. Better genetics on the ranges = healthier horses/ less illness and injury, along with strengthened genetics of some weaker lines.
    Above all else, there absolutely must be restrictions placed on breeding adopted mustangs! This seems like a common sense ideal in my mind, but obviously it’s not to some others. Breeding adopted mustangs is only adding fuel to the fire. There are already way too many unwanted horses, why would anyone want to add to the problem? The question is rhetorical because the answer is redundant.
    So! You guys let me know what you think. I need all the critiquing you can dish out LOL!

    • sandra longley said

      The burns oregon adoption program-seems to be far ahead of some of the other BLM management programs,as they post family groups from herd management areas-do genetic testing for type/breed concentration-trainability of those individual groups-percent of inbreeding…they adopt out a significant amount of mustangs to trainers, who participate in showing the mustang in challenges(I forget what the program is called-and then help to sell them-on adoption day-which was last weekend-I will go back to that website once the adoption day sale results are up..I found it very interesting…and alot of these horses are not as colorful and attractive as the calico horses-that they are getting marketed..there seems to be no shortage of people buying the colorful mustangs..I looked at all the horses that went up for adoption on the blm gallery pages since the first of the year…equal or better sorrels got no bid..while some of the colorful young horses went fairly high.

      • sandra longley said

        Another sucess story-yes the pryor mustangs-first of all in large part-due to gingers documentarys…advertising as we all know is the ultimate marketing tool..Look at what some of those pryor horses brought..people had formed an emotional attachment to the horses thru gingers work…actually much of what you suggest was advocated for in the US Geological Survey-“science” management pdf in “the strategic research plan for WH&B management” I linked on another page..I thought it was impressive…and the fact their science showed thru genetic testing-that there was actually minimally acceptable inbreeding co-effients..(i do line breeding(Weiscamp)and have studied it extensively(and was able to meet with hank before he died and see his program first hand)I was actually surprised to find out the wild horses are not inbred as they are portrayed to be..except…when populations get too low, and herds get isolated..there was a herd in the murders creek hma in oregon, that is isolated and one in the ochoco hma that they are zeroing out..I expected genetic testing to say the murders creek horses were inbred…honestly..they had terrible conformation, and it seemed to be uniform in the my surprise they were not??? so then my ext question would be -so why are you zeroing them out, add some new blood to try and correct some of their shortcomings…
        Oregon has a significant amount of people who bought Kiger mustangs(from the steens) studs and mares and have breeding herds..I remember when Bobby Ingersol, took a kiger-some 25 years ago, and campaigned it across the west in the cow horse snaffle bit futurities..he did fairly well, didn’t win any of the big futurities-but really made people sit up and take notice..and brought the kiger to national prominence.

        • Yea but that’s what we want to avoid above all… breeding herds.

          • sandra longley said

            I pointed out the Kigers because they are the only ones I know of who are breeding mustangs, and using that same recognition factor it could happen with the pryor horses…look at what they brought at the adoption auction..people wanted to own a piece of that herd..Maybe promotions of the herds, documentories, ect. Hey color effects all horse breeds sales..alot of the burns horses were entered in the mustang challenge, and they seemed to be coming out of certain i am going to assume those herds have a reputation for ability disposition and trainability-it wasn’t because they were the best conformation or colorful..I went through 1000 horses on line writing down my picks their age and what herds they came from…just for giggles..I personally like the calico complex horses

          • That is actually a GREAT idea! Documentaries of the different herds of the American Wild Mustangs as a promotion!

          • YES!

      • Extreme Mustang Makeover and Mustang Magic… Awesome events!
        Very interesting point about the solid vs. color. Do you think that if we had something similiar to the bloodline plan in place, we could increase the solids sold based on their possible abilities?

  5. sandra longley said

    I think mother nature is providing the natural selection on genetic defects in wild horses…survival rates would be small on serious defects..However-the carrier would be the hidden factor..but if you were could uncover it..but what would be the odds you would breed to something that would also carry that particular recessive gene??? (however- I do think you are right about not breeding mustangs as domesticated animals..It would lower the value of the wild mustang..and you would lose that natural selection process that makes them hardy..I know as a breeder-I have saved foals that would have died in the wild..mares that didn’t produce colostrum ect. not genetic defects caused. I do have a concern about the wild horses becoming infected with diseases-because of their lack of immunity from not being exposed as our domesticated horses are..not that it is a plus..but after all many indian tribes were wiped out by disease because of their lack of exposure to it..No one has ever fully convinced me that cattle aren’t the ones who gave diseases to the buffalo-elk and mule deer…not the other way around

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