Questions for a Horse Novel

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Questions for a Horse Novel

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    06-04-2008, 04:08 PM
Questions for a Horse Novel

Hi everyone,

I'm writing a novel called "Hooved Angels". It's a human interest story. The story is actually about the life and times of a young girl named Cathy who grows up and inherits a horse farm as a young adult.

I currently have some questions concerning what is possible with horse breeding.

In the beginning of the story Cathy's grandmother runs a horse farm. The year is 1955. She breeds and raises draft horses. I haven't yet decided on the exact breed of draft horses.

I'm not too concerned with how Cathy's grandmother might go about breeding horses. My plot is quite differnet from that. In this story, the grandmother has several draft horse mares that are prime for breeding but have not yet been serviced. My first question,....

1. What time of year would horses most likely be bred, or can be bred?

I would like this event to happen in the spring or even late spring. Is that a reasonable time to breed horses?

Now for the second question,...

What's going to happen in the story is that several stud horses escape from a tractor trailer during transport. There is an accident, and these stud horses escape unharmed and run off to find grandma's horse farm to mingle with grandma's draft horses.

The idea is that these stud horses (which are also purebred horse but not draft horses), impregnate the draft horses. And this brings me to my second question.

2. How likely is it that these stud horses would naturally breed with the mares in this situation?

The draft horse mares are out to pasture. The small heard of studs that are prime for breeding are suddenly loose to mingle with the mares. Is it believable that these stud horses would naturally breed with these mares?

The idea behind all of this is that the offspring of these draft horses will then be considered impure or contaminated. Cathy inherits these supposedly useless horses. There will be 5of them. All of them being 6 years old by the time Cathy inherits them.

Cathy then basically trains the horses and uses them to farm with in spite of the fact that everyone claims that they are worthless half-breeds.

In other words, the hypothetical result of crossbreeding is that the offspring have the physical conformation of the original draft horses, but the demeanor of a more lively type of riding horse.

And now for my third question,...

3. What would be a believable choice of breeds to cross for this?

Keep in mind that this is an accidental breeding. Not one that would be chosen by a breeder. Just one that would be believed by a breeder.

Originally I was thinking in extremes. Like having the draft horse mares being Clydesdales or Shires and the escaped studs being Thoroughbred race horses. That's about as extreme as I could think up. Probably too extreme huh? The offspring of such an extreme breeding would probably a terribly deformed beast? If it took at all? Or would it be believable? I honestly don't know.

So then I started tying to think of a more realistic mating accident. Like maybe Percheron mares and Arabian studs. Or Suffock mares and Mustang studs.

I have no clue, and this is why I put the question you. What's believable?

The idea I'm looking for is to have gentle-natured draft horse mares being crossbred with horses that have a more spunky demeanor and perfer to run instead of work. Then my heroine actually trains and use these horses to farm with in spite of the fact that everyone is telling her that they are worthless horses.

So what's a believable(yet abnormal)crossbreeding that would be considered to be so far out that no one would do it on purpose, yet close enough that it would still be believable as an accidental breeding?

Keep in mind that I'm not asking for genuine breeding advice. I'm asking what is the most extreme case that I can claim without sounding completely absurd.
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    06-04-2008, 04:25 PM
Green Broke
1. What time of year would horses most likely be bred, or can be bred?
Spring...early or late. Most registries have yearlings turn 1 year at Jan 1st...regardless of their actual b-day. BUT - - horses CAN breed at anytime :)

2. How likely is it that these stud horses would naturally breed with the mares in this situation?
I would wonder HOW the studs got in with the mares....the likelihood of breeding is high if the mares are in season, if not, then they might have a little trouble ;)

3. What would be a believable choice of breeds to cross for this?
TB x Draft is actually a desireable sporthorse cross.

Something along the lines of a perchxarab or a clydexarab might work...but personally I wouldn't like any "poorly built" horse crossing with any purebred mare...:)

Good luck writing your book!
    06-04-2008, 04:55 PM
tb x Draft is actually a desireable sporthorse cross.
So then my original idea of using tb studs isn't so unreasonable after all.

That's interesting.

Now I'm wondering if the offspring would lose the draft horse conformation and be more like the tb?

Also, would it make a difference crossing a stud tb with a mare draft versus crossing a stud draft with a mare tb?

In my story the mare will be the draft horse and the stud will be the tb.

I'm planing on describing the resultant offspring as basically retaining the draft horse conformation to a large degree, yet having the mental demanor of the tb.

In other words, I'm seeking to have high-strung spunky draft horses. That's the goal of this accidental breeding.

Thank you for your response. :) [/quote]
    06-04-2008, 05:03 PM
I don't really have any information that would help you, but I have some pictures of a draft/tb crosses which might help you :)
This is a draft/tb

Percheron/tb cross

I'm not sure what this horse is crossed with, but he definitely has more of the draft in him
    06-04-2008, 05:40 PM
Thankyou for the photos appylover.

By the way I actualy had an appaloosa at one time. I had a hackney buggy horse too. But that's another story.

The photos are interesting. The Percheron/tb is quite interesting. I've always dreamed of owning draft horses, and Percherons were a breed that caught my eye. If I remember correctly they are descendents of horses that were specifcally bred for the knights in medieval times. And for that reason Percherons were already a bit spunky as they were originally bred for war rather than farming.

At least that's my understanding from what I can remember. I used to be quite interested in these things.

From a practical point of view I was also looking at Suffocks or Suffock Punch. They are smaller but quite stocky, and were bred specifically for farming. Thus they had a very calm and easying going temperment. Easier to care for all-round so I was told.

However, for my book I was thinking about using a really large draft horse, like the Clydesdale, or Shires. I live in Pennsylvana and there are more Shires around here than Clydes.

The Shires and Clydes can be such large and heavy drafts that I'm wondering what the offspring would look like if they were crossed with a tb.

I'd like the offspring of the breeding to retain a somewhat heavy and "draft-looking" appearance.

On of the things that Cathy (my heroine) is going to do with her half-breed horses is enter a horse-pull contest in a country fair and take the grand prize. So she needs some horses with some heft.
    06-04-2008, 05:56 PM
Oh that's awesome! You have to tell us when the book is all done, i'd love to read it :)

I'm sure if you google different breeds, you'll find one that catches your eye
    06-05-2008, 10:51 AM
Super Moderator
Also something that might help you is that the gestational period is 11 months. You might want to throw something into it about injury to some of the horses, (if you have several studs and mares in one place someone is going to get hurt!) LOL...
    06-05-2008, 11:43 AM
Originally Posted by farmpony84
also something that might help you is that the gestational period is 11 months. You might want to throw something into it about injury to some of the horses, (if you have several studs and mares in one place someone is going to get hurt!) LOL...
Good point. If there is more than one stallion, they will fight for the right to breed the mares.

As for your questions, Kickshaw and Appy gave great responses, I just thought I'd add:

- TB/Draft crosses generally turn out still being very "drafty" but they tend to be "leaner" and "sportier"
- I have a very hard time imagining a Percheron/Arab cross - that doesn't appeal to me at all; they have completely different physiques
- stallions are quite ... erm... inventive when it comes to getting in a field of mares; they can barge right through the fence, jump it, or in some cases, I've heard of studs breeding over/through a fence. Not sure how that one worked, but it did...
    06-05-2008, 01:45 PM
Originally Posted by farmpony84
also something that might help you is that the gestational period is 11 months. You might want to throw something into it about injury to some of the horses, (if you have several studs and mares in one place someone is going to get hurt!) LOL...
This is actually encouraging to hear. It will play into my story very well. I wasn't aware that the gestation period is 11 month, I thought they were 9 months the same as a human. But for my book that's not going to matter.

The story begins on the Horse Farm. It's a breading farm, but had also been a crop farm at one time. So it could be used for both purposes. Cathy (my heroine) is only 12 at the time. The horse farm actually belongs to her grandmother and she's just visiting with her parents and sister.

It's Cathy's dream to someday own a horse farm like her grandmother. Cathy leaves the farm with her sister and parents to return to the city where they live. But as they leave there is a terrible accident. They crash with a tractor trailer and both of Cathy's parents are killed. Her and her sister survives. The tb horses that were in the trailer escape from the accident and run off into the pastures of the farm.

There is a lot of commotion and Cathy's grandmother is totally incapacitated with grief and concern over the accident and rushes off to the hospital with the two surviving girls. In the meantime, back at the ranch, the tbs are raising havoc with the draft horse mares. The hand hands are finding it impossible to gain any control over the situation and it's total chaos.

That basically ends that whole era of the story. The whole story then goes off to be about Cathy and her sister living back in the city. They live there for about 6 years, until Cathy becomes of age (18). There are all sorts of terrible things that happen during that time. It's a miserable life in the city with no apparent way to escapee that horrid lifestyle. Cathy's sister is quite a bit older than her. She's addicted to heroin, involved in prostitution, and has plans to use her own sister Cathy as a source of income. Cathy is a bit na´ve and doesn't know how to get out of the situation.

There are several turn of events. News arrives that her grandmother has died. This is devastating for Cathy. But her evil sick sister is almost elated because it means they will inherit the farm. Which to Cathy's sister means, money! She has plans on selling the farm for cash. And has a lawyer draw up the necessary papers. Cathy is quite innocent and na´ve and doesn't know what to do. She feels trapped and hopeless. She doesn't want to sell the farm, she wants to move to it and raise horses. But her evil sister demands that Cathy owes her and they need the cash. She really wants it for drugs, etc.

Anyway, on the way to sign the papers they argue, and Cathy grabs at her sister pulling way her purse which spills out onto the street. Cathy's sister sees her heroin roll out onto the street and lunges after it and is hit by an oncoming bus. She end up in a coma (which she recovers from alter in the book). In any case, when Cathy is finally approached by the lawyer to sign the farm papers, she refused and demands to keep it and move into it. Everyone is trying to talk her out of it and tries to tell her that it just isn't possible. But Cathy's determined.

So she moves to the farm. Because she needs money, she has no choice but to sell the "good" horses. She's left with only the 5 half-breeds from the "accidental breeding" 6 years earlier. And this is where her story with the horses begins.

So I really won't need to worry about gestational periods etc. Cathy end up with 5 half-breed horses that everyone is telling her are basically worthless for breeding or farming. But she does use them for farming and she succeeds in that.

Of course, in the actual story there are love affairs and all sorts of other things going on. In fact, there a parallel story about a young boy who has ambitions of becoming a DVM. He had a crush on Cathy when she was 12, and he meets her again when she returns at 18, it's a bit older at 20 by then. So there's romance, tragedy, and it's laced with human interest stories of all these different characters, not to mention that even the 5 half-breed horses become 5 very special individual characters in their own right. The real focus of the story is on Cathy's intimate and intense relationship with these horses which the reader will come to love individually in their own right. All the rest is just "fill".

Well, Todd (the boy who wants to become the DVM) is actually a whole story in and of himself going on parallel to Cathy's story. I guess it's no secret that they fall in love at the end. How could they not? They both have a very deep love of nature and animals.

So from a horse point of view, all I need is a story of how Cathy ends up with 5 very special half-breed horses that everyone else thinks are basically worthless (for breeding or farming). But Cathy proves them wrong and makes wonderful farm horses out of them. She, of course, has help from one of grandma's old farm hands.

So the horse part of the story will be believable then? That's really my only reason for posting here. I didn't want to write this story and have horse enthusiasts saying "No way!"
    06-05-2008, 08:10 PM
Sounds great! I'm excited to see the final product!

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