Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Babies Are Arriving!

Now, We Are Planning For Next Year Foals!
As this year’s foals are born, breeding season begins. Mare owners are looking at stallions, and stallion owners are breeding mares that will bring their programs closer to producing the perfect horse.

During the past 10 years the equine industry, as a whole, has seen fewer and fewer foals born worldwide. The AQHA has seen the number of mares bred drop in excess of 50%. The color breeds (APHA and ApHC) have not faired as well. Those numbers have shown more than a 70% drop in numbers of mares bred over the same time span.

Our Breed of Choice is the Appaloosa.
During that 10 year span the ApHC registered a considerably lower numbers than the AQHA, who reported the number of mares bred in 2010 as, 122,177 (down from 227, 938) vs. the reported number of ApHC mares bred in 2010 as 4,788 (down from 17,089). The actual number of registered foals is 75% of the number of bred mares give or take a percentage or two, which reduces the numbers shown in the illustration even lower.

If you think you have seen a thousand Appaloosa baby pictures if not more, you have probably seen over 1/3 of the babies that will be registered in 2012. We believe the ApHC breeders are poised to grow and fill the demands of the improving economy (at least in our geographical area). North Dakota is ranked in the top 3 states for Appaloosa registrations. Smith Show Horses is but a small fraction of that statistical number, but proud to be a part of it. Smith Show Horses along with our mare owners that breed to our stallions control 1% of the total ApHC foal crop worldwide. We have spent nearly a lifetime developing the genetics we offer to the mare owners and Appaloosa enthusiasts.

As new DNA discoveries are made, we have to weigh several issues when making breeding decisions and how we will continue to improve the breed. As our foal market grows, and mare owner enthusiasm grows, we are encouraged the overall market for horses and the equine economy is on the rise.

Conformation, Trainability, Disposition, Overall Balance, And A Lot Of Pretty.
People have fewer horses to pick from and they plan to own them for their lifetime and pass them on to their children and grand children. Our buyers are choosing good looking versatile horses. Buyers are choosing a horse they are proud to own and show…or just keep all to themselves and
enjoy. They are more educated about the horses they are looking at and they are not willing to
settle for less than they have waited for. Overall beauty in many cases is the final factor. Putting this all together with a high degree of predictability is a long term map to success. You can’t keep doing (breeding) the same thing and expect to adapt and grow to meet the future. As breeders, we watch the trends and what people are demanding and expecting to do with their horses in the future. These are the people that really dictate what we as breeders choose to raise and develop.

The latest Scientific Discovery
in our industry that continues to be discussed is the PSSM1 marker. As people struggle to get a grip on what this discovery means specifically to them we see some hysteria. In reality the PSSM1 gene is simply a marker that tells you whether your horse is more prone to tying up than another horse is that does not carry that specific gene. The tying up syndrome (it is not a disease) has been found in horses since before the discovery of the new world. It is a syndrome that can be managed and as stated by one geneticist, “ More than 95% of the horses that carry that gene remain non-symptomatic. … There are theories why some horses are more symptomatic, including additional, yet undiscovered markers that accelerate the condition”.

What we as breeders look at as we build a breeding program
is how this new information is received by the public. There are those that are looking at the short range and feel everything is an overnight change. Nothing is further from the truth. Since the discovery of the PSSM1 gene, there have been more, new, and better guidelines that will keep your horse healthy and symptom free. There is now even a preventive treatment to administer to a horse that has shown or felt to be symptomatic.

Since this genetic marker was discovered, we have seen people that have indicated they are not in the position to manage one of these horses. Some people are in a panic and have taken it upon themselves to disparage anybody that disagrees with them. Some throw out the basics to address one issue.

As breeders, when making decisions, we speak directly to the geneticists testing these horses. In one of the discussions we had with a well spoken and quoted geneticist, he advised, if we took the superior genetics and threw them out with one bad gene (no matter which one it is, but PSSM1 in
particular) we would set our breed back decades. PSSM1 is only one of the markers that indicate whether a horse will tie up. It is a step in identifying and treating a problem that has not killed off the equine species in the in the hundreds of not thousands of years it has been around.

Here are the FACTS.
If you have a horse with Superior Genetics and Conformation would you throw your breeding program out over one gene? Looking at the numbers above, I’m not sure the Equine Market can survive another hit. Breeding numbers would drop further because you would eliminate even more horses available to the market, but the quality would be dropping as well. What most people that are against breeding “any genetic defects” don’t realize, conformation is a huge inheritable outcome. YOU can’t change crooked legs, a long back, a poor disposition, or just plain, poor overall quality. In the Appaloosa breed, misplaced white is noted on the registration papers, as an undesirable cross, which most breeders don’t even want to cross
that line. Once it’s on the horse, you can’t remove or manage it. The only thing you can do is manage the cross next time so the specific trait doesn’t show up in excess again. Eliminating a specific breeding program will not send breeders to another program, but rather stallion and mare owners are taken completely out of the market.
We will not settle for less quality or conformation to get a specific “DNAed color”, but we enjoy every foal born whether it is black, bay or leopard. Our goal is to fill the niche of the market that keeps us breeding and who we consider extended family.

To sum it up…These are the guidelines we live and die by! We have listed the results we strive for, to date. We are now working on 110%.

Disposition---100% of the time.
Beautiful heads and balance---100% of the time.
Movement and a soft way of going---100% of the time.
MARKETABILITY.---100% of the time.
Appaloosa Coloring on solid ApHC & AQHA mares---%75 of the time.
Customer Satisfaction---100%of the time.

Our stallions are PSSM1 heterozygous (n/P1). They can only pass that gene on to a foal 50% of the time.

We’ll take our chances!

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