Grade Horses

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Grade Horses

This is a discussion on Grade Horses within the Horse Breeds forums, part of the Horse Breeds, Breeding, and Genetics category

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    05-23-2012, 02:36 AM
Grade Horses

In the time I’ve been here, I’ve seen a lot of people that claim that this forum is anti-grade horse. With as long as I’ve been here, I feel that I have a fairly good sense of the general beliefs of most of the members here, so I feel fairly confident in posting for the majority.

Most of the places that we see someone who automatically calls us "grade horse haters" is on breeding threads. There is a very big reason for that. I honestly cannot think any legitimate member who has openly said that grade horses are useless or worthless, or put another member’s horse down simply because it happens to be a grade. Buying, owning, riding, training, showing grade horses is not where the problem lies. Those of use that really do know horses know that a grade horse with the proper training and ability can be just as good or better than any comparable registered horse.

The problems arise when people want to breed their grade or rescue mare/stud of questionable breed and ancestry that has mediocre conformation at best and no accomplishments to speak of beyond the ability to turn grass into fertilizer.

9 times out of 10, if a person is asking “Should I breed my mare?” or “Which of these studs will give me a pretty foal?”, then they are not educated or responsible breeders and have absolutely no business attempting to produce another equine life. 9 times out of 10, an educated, responsible breeder would not be asking those questions of a bunch of random strangers on an internet forum because they already know exactly what they want to breed for and what stud/mare combination would most likely produce the desired offspring.

Heck, most of my horses are grades and I couldn’t love them any more if they were full bloods and papered out the wazoo. IMHO, the only time that grade horses can be considered lesser quality in general than their papered counterpart is in the breeding shed.

It’s one thing if you know the complete lineage of both sire and dam (even if the resulting foal cannot be registered) and you decide on the breeding with a purpose and plan in mind. If you have considered all sides of the dice and weighed the pros against the cons of that particular breeding and the stock is of proven quality. Having balls or a uterus does not automatically qualify a horse as breeding quality.

The main place that grade horses get their bad name is from bad owners; people who purposefully breed animals of questionable breed and genetics (often, these horses are not genetically tested for problems like HYPP, HERDA, OLWS, and the plethora of other completely preventable deadly genetic diseases) . It’s just as bad when owners end up with an unexpected pregnancy through their own willful ignorance.

Members that believe that because “they’ve not seen the stud breed the mare, even though they are turned out together, then she could not possibly ever get bred”. Or, members that say “Well, he’s only 2 and hasn’t shown any interest in mares, so I see no reason to get him gelded yet and no reason for him not to be turned out with my herd of mares”.

One member had a rescue mare that was lame for some unknown reason and had a really crappy under saddle temperament, so bad and so dangerous that they were unable to ride her without risking serious injury. So, they decided that they wanted to breed her because “she needs to have a job”. That particular member was utterly convinced that mare would throw the “bestest widdle kyootest baybee evah”. Then they threw a fit when experienced, educated, knowledgeable horse people suggested that maybe the mare’s lameness and/or temperament might be something genetic/conformational that really shouldn’t be re-produced.

This is not speaking toward the people who, either knowingly or unknowingly, bought a grade mare that happened to be in foal. The breeding has already been done through no choice of yours. By that point, the best thing you can do is to make sure that the ensuing foal is well cared for and receives training that will ensure that s/he will be a productive member of equine society. Well trained horses always have a place; they are always worth something, even if they are mixed breeds with no papers. But, because they are not generally as desirable as horses with papers, it is the owner’s responsibility to make them desirable. A well trained grade horse will be worth more to a legitimate average buyer than a wild registered horse any day.

The reason that so many of us speak out against breeding horses of completely unknown lineage is because you never know when some funky genetic or conformational thing is hiding in their genes. A perfectly normal looking, functional horse might be carrying the gene that would produce foals with severe knock knees or clubbed feet or roach backs or sway backs because their parent or grandparent had and exhibited it.

Let's face it, how many people would really want to purposefully breed for foals that would grow to look like this....

Knock kneed

Clubbed front feet from birth

Roach Back



So, long story short, no we don’t hate grade horses. What we have a major problem with is people who choose to breed a grade horse with absolutely no regard for the health of the foal and no forethought for what the foal might actually turn out like or what possible future it might have. People who only see as far as having a cute little baby to play with and then when the novelty and cuteness of the baby has worn off, they dump or abandon the foal the first chance they get because they didn’t want another horse, they just wanted to have a baby to play with.
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    05-23-2012, 02:58 AM
    05-23-2012, 03:13 AM
Good post. I agree with a lot of what you're saying. HOWEVER, not all people who breed grade horses are "backyard" breeders who know nothing and will end up with a purposeless, fugly baby.

I am a person who is considering breeding their grade mare. She is only 17 months old at the moment so WAY too young yet, my intention is to break her to saddle age 3 and then put a year of light dressage work into her before putting her in foal at 4, to foal at 5 and then wean the foal when Satin is 5 and a half, and bring her back into work. THEN I will start jumping (when she has regained muscle/balance), and won't have to worry about whether it will damage her body to allow her to progress at the rate her MIND is capable of.

My top consideration when choosing the BREED of stallion is whether or not the resulting foal could be registered. That pretty much limits me to breeds that allow partbred registration with only one registered parent, which still allows me to breed to a stallion of the breed I love best - Welsh section D, for a registerable part Welsh foal. I believe Satin's sire may well have a high percentage of Welsh D blood, and if she matures anything like him (looking likely, she has an AWESOME neck for a 17mo), a Cob-type stallion will compliment her nicely.

My girl's foal will be either a children's large pony, which I will break in and train to be an allrounder and show hunter pony and sell when it's broke enough for a child, OR it will be a smallish solid-built horse intended to be a mid-level eventer/showjumper for me. Satin's sire has a VERY nice scopey jump, and jump is very heritable, so I don't doubt she has inherited it and could easily pass it on when bred to the right stallion.

The stallions I am considering are well-shown for great results, heights ranging from 13hh to 16hh, and all of very nice type. I am VERY picky with breeding animals, they must be of good to superior quality FOR MY DISCIPLINE, not necessarily top level but reasonable talent. Most of them are Welsh (either section B or section D), but there's a Morgan and a couple of Arabians and even a Gypsy.

Not all of us who breed grade mares are lacking in knowledge, just want a kyoot baybee, or a "piece of their mare". I have had comments from people at shows (including a couple of judges) that my girl is going to be very nice when she's all grown up. She has been very lightly shown for good results. Before I bought her I did my research and her sire throws a consistent type to VERY different mares, from part-Arab through TB and even a QH. He has thrown a palomino and a chestnut so HAS to carry red, but has otherwise mostly thrown buckskin. Satin's dam is a black part-Arab with minimal white. Satin's BREEDER is small-time and does not own her own stallion, but consistently turns out horses of nice type and temperament.

Satin will NOT be bred to any horse that tests positive to any genetic disease, and will not be bred to any horse that's untested that's of a breed that may carry said genetic diseases.

Sure, breeding to any old stallion with any old mare is a BAD thing. But if you do your research, know the direct parents of the horse you're considering breeding, and specifically look for a stallion that compliments the mare AND her grandparents, then you're doing ok. I know a few "respected" breeders of purebred, registered stock who don't look past whether it's papered and of the right breed, so it's not JUST us backyard grade breeders!
    05-23-2012, 03:34 AM
Blue eyed pony I don't think smrobs has once thrown you into the "Bad breeder" category with this post....
    05-23-2012, 03:43 AM
My only quibble with this post is that without the line breeding from the breed registries, I don't think HYPP, herda... Etc, would exist. I think most genetic disorders are more prevalent among the "pure" crowd. I personally don't feel it is my business what people do or do not do with their horses or to flame anyone for wanting to breed, or ask questions. I started with this forum to ask about breeding a TB stallion I had gotten(it was hard to resist the temptation when I had a stallion and a mare). I was lucky to have some sense knocked into me by some of y'all. No one was rude either. Good post as usual smrobs.
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prairiewindlady and Wallee like this.
    05-23-2012, 03:50 AM
Nobody meant anything to anyone in particular SH, I just wanted to make sure that everyone understands that breeding grade horses is not a bad thing in and of itself... it's HOW the majority of grade breeding is done that's the problem.
    05-23-2012, 05:25 AM
Green Broke
Agreed. But you can get that from registered horses too? With all the new registries they have now it could happan enywhere.
If I had a pali grade (like Charlie) mare or stallion I could "register" for PHBA and technically have a "registered horse" its just all confusing haha but honestly no horse registered or grade should be bred if it has genetic/conformation deformities or problems....
Celeste likes this.
    05-23-2012, 05:53 AM
^agree. OR issues in the bloodlines, genetic stuff like HYPP or HERDA... that right there of course is the whole issue with grade horses, how can you be SURE that they don't carry those things? It doesn't cost a whole lot to test for them, of course. And then there's the issue of, what happens if somewhere down the bloodlines there's a fugly, and the foal throws back to that?

Colour registration is all well and good but is (and SHOULD be) perceived as far less valuable than breed registration, because a buckskin, pinto, palomino, whatever, is not a breed, has no breed standard, and could be an absolute fugly with very poor/totally unknown breeding, for all the registry is concerned, as long as it's the right colour.

...I am a little bit sore with colour registries at the moment, after finding out that my filly is not eligible to be registered with Buckskins or Dilutes because she has a half-blue eye. The rules specifically state two brown eyes, with her half-blue eye she would have to be registered with Pintos or Combined Broken Coloured and then be registered as a broken coloured dilute with Dilutes... I don't know about Buckskins. She doesn't have enough white for either Pintos or CBC, just a (classic splash/sabino) bottom-heavy blaze, and a sock on a hind leg that has a very rough edge (classic sabino). But nothing bar her blaze and single sock, nothing above the hocks... not enough white.

It amuses me that my anglo arab gelding would be eligible for sabino registration with both Pintos AND CBC, because he has a few small spots of white on his belly, and he's from two breeds that are traditionally only solid-coloured!
    05-23-2012, 06:10 AM
Green Broke
True. But look at it this way....i love my mare to death and she's is registered with AQHA, she's been breed three times and she was great with I agree with that though? No. Because quite frankly even though she doesnt have TERRIBLE conformation, she does have some negative sides. Particularly her legs. Yes she does imo have decent confo. But I don't breed unless they have ideal confo.

What im trying to get at is even with the BIG name registries (AQHA, APHA , etc) you have some that are less than ideal


perty ho.jpg
    05-23-2012, 11:54 AM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Roperchick    
what im trying to get at is even with the BIG name registries (AQHA, APHA , etc) you have some that are less than ideal

Attachment 99208

Attachment 99209
Very true - which, at the end of the day, is why it is important to have RESPONSIBLE breeding practices, regardless of registry status. Generally speaking, those who have posted threads that have resulted in the "grade haters" accusations are NOT in that category, which is why their plans are called into question, the issue of grade breeding comes up and then it comes to the assumption that the objections are based on the horse being grade rather than the breeding plan being unsound (in polite terms).

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