Genetically Crazy? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 85 Old 03-07-2017, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Genetically Crazy?

My mom is telling me that some horses have a genetic code that causes them to go crazy.

One horse is particular we owned was always scared of people which we presumed was her past. This mare grew partially fond of me and would let me do just about anything with her. One day I was riding her and she just did a really high buck and I fell off. After that my mom started calling this mare genetically crazy and saying all of her babies will be crazy.

We don't know ANYTHING about this mare's past, but we did have a baby with her and he's now 8 months old and VERY friendly and hardly spooks. My mom is telling me, if I breed him then he'll throw horribly crazy foals just because his mom was scared.

My question is, can a horse have a genetic gene that causes them to be crazy? And could it be hereditary.
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post #2 of 85 Old 03-07-2017, 02:54 PM
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Genetically crazy no. But personality and rideability does have strong heritability - as is problem by warmblood inspections. They place high marks on it. I definitely find rideability and personality follows families.

I perk my ears up at certain mare and stallion lines and stay far away from others. I know what I enjoy riding. How much heat and stubbornness without naughtiness. It can vary for each person and ability.

Why do you need a stallion? Particularly a grade one!!!
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post #3 of 85 Old 03-07-2017, 03:00 PM
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And on the other hand there's nothing that makes this horse sound crazy to me... any horse can throw a buck..
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post #4 of 85 Old 03-07-2017, 03:43 PM Thread Starter
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Both parents of this colt are registered so I do plan on having him registered AND proven before any breeding.

His mom was such a sweetheart but just scared of people because of something that happened in her past.
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post #5 of 85 Old 03-07-2017, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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Exactly what I tried explaining but my mom won't listen to anything.
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post #6 of 85 Old 03-07-2017, 03:54 PM
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I know what lines I like and don't, but I'm also aware it's not as simple as that.

I had a mare by Dry Doc who every single foal she through was lovely headed, soft in the face, no buck, beautiful color and big bone with strong hips and shoulders - She also threw a lovely hair gene, all her colts had long, thick manes and tails. However, they were also all incredibly sensitive. You could make them mad easily. They didn't take to being pushed around, you asked nicely or you faced consequences. They were incredible, but you had to be on your best behavior. So we crossed her on a stud who was notorious for throwing good minded, stable colts - And that filly was the best she ever had.

Bueno Chex horses tend to be a little bull headed. Strong, talented horses - But I never got along with them for that reason. Quincy Dan was the same. They could buck, boy - And they were athletic about it. But you could get them if you really worked and had some knowledge.

Unfortunately if you don't, there are some horses you have no business being around. I see it every day, online and offline, with people handling and breeding or starting horses they don't need and ignoring the advice of others.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #7 of 85 Old 03-07-2017, 04:07 PM
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Some lines can be more reactive or calmer, but with genetics it should only be considered a tendency towards such behavior. Even with draft horses, which are known as being “gentle giants”, there are individuals and lines that are reactive, spooky, and ill-tempered. But even a horse from lines known to be a certain way can prove you wrong. One of the wonders of genetic variation.

There is no switch-flipping that means a horse will suddenly go crazy for no reason, because there is always a reason. They do things that make sense to them in the moment according to their instincts and previous experience/training. If this mare had been poorly handled in her past, she had a very good reason to be suspicious and fearful in her own mind, because she was protecting herself. She apparently felt like she could trust you, which is great!

Her foal likely won’t have those same experiences. He’s a blank slate, and so far all he knows is good treatment and nice people who aren’t trying to hurt him. If you continue to expose him to plenty of things that might otherwise be scary, he’ll continue to learn that they’re no big deal.

There is a very famous video of an Arabian cart class that goes completely out of control – loose horse running with the cart slamming away behind it, running over people, into other horses, and at one point it hits a person who went into the ring to try to get it to stop. A lot of folks chalked that one up to “crazy” Arabians, hopped up on rich feed and no turnout, poor training, bad safety measures, etc etc etc.

In reality? The horse got stung on the belly by bees that had built a nest in the arena.

My point is from the observer’s standpoint, it looks like the horse just bolted and went nuts for no reason. In the horse’s mind, he hurt! He didn’t know why! He was trying to escape from the pain, and suddenly he’s got strange people screaming and yelling, no contact on his reins (the driver fell out), and people chasing him waving their arms. He was hurting, and then he was scared – all perfectly good reasons to run in his mind.

So, your mare may have started bucking for what seemed like no reason to your eyes, but to her, there was probably an excellent reason. She felt that she needed to protect herself, and she did.

If the mare had been treated well and just had a crummy temperament, or was just a fearful and anxious horse from the start, I’d say you might be right to be worried that her foal might have the same type of personality. But if under good treatment with a person she trusted, she became a trustworthy and happy mount, I’d say the issues with her were not genetic, but treatment-based.
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post #8 of 85 Old 03-07-2017, 04:13 PM
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I don't think some horses are genetically crazy, but I do know for sure that many horses have genetic diseases that can appear like the horse is "genetically crazy."

For instance, my personal gelding is wonderful when he's wonderful. He's relaxed, responsive, and very willing!
But he has a muscle disorder than causes his muscles to spasm and causes him a lot of pain on a pretty regular basis. When his muscles hurt, he's jumpy, spooky, and there's literally no way to "get through to him." On those days, he'll run you over without a second thought - something he would never, ever, think of when he's "in his right mind." The only thing that works is to read the signs and put him away because the day is not going to get better.

For instance:


He's clearly confused in the first video because he had never been ridden without a bridle before, but he was trying his heart out for me. He didn't throw any kind of crazy tricks, nothing to make you think that he was anything other than 100% reliable.
And then the second video, he's just different. Who knows what spooked him [nothing??] but he got a littttle nuts. Looking back, it was probably some kind of muscle spasm or some other kind of "oh my gosh, things suddenly hurt so bad!"...but who knows.

I don't even ride him anymore because those moves were becoming so common-place. I never fell off, he always had to go right back to work [he never ever "got away with it"], but he kept telling me that something wasn't right.

Nobody quite knows what he has yet [he definitely has "something" but it hasn't been named yet], but we're lucky enough to be working with a research group that is dedicated to figuring out why and how these myopathies come about.

My gelding's issue isn't the only one out there that can present like this. There's PSSM1 that is typically early onset, but there's also P2, P3, P4, P5, and Px which are all later onset [ages 8-15 is typical to show the first signs] and display like a horse "suddenly going nuts" at a certain age. P2/P3/P4/P5/Px horses can all be wonderfully normal, delightful, mounts before onset and then something happens and it's like a switch gets flipped - they suddenly start getting jumpy, start bucking, bolting, etc. They can be back to their perfect selves the next day, and got nuts again the next week.
They aren't "genetically crazy" persay, but they do have a genetic disease that they can and do pass on.
P2/P3/P4/P5/Px are all diseases dealing with protein synthesis. Many affected horses can return to some semblance of their normal, perfect, selves if they are given an appropriate "complete" protein at adequate levels.
The freak out are literally caused because their bodies have an increased need for protein and the protein in their bodies is not adequate for the level of work they are being asked to do - if they are asked to work beyond the amount of protein "fuel" they have available, their bodies will literally start breaking the horse's own muscle down as a source of protein. Talk about a MAJOR charlie-horse!
That muscle break-down causes an incredible amount of pain [obviously] that only lessens with the cessation of work, unless they've been worked to the point of tying-up.

If P2/P3/P4/P5/Px horses have adequate levels of protein "fuel" in their bodies, they are able to work without pain.

Some horses have multiple myopathies together which increases their need for protein even more, and so forth.

Part of the muscle myopathy research is researching where these other [P2/P3/P4/P5/Px] genes came from. Most of the current research is focused on stock breeds.
And you know what? Many of those stock horse lines that have always been thought of as "difficult" or "cold-backed" or whatever have also come up with a significantly higher incidence of P2 and P3. So far, it's been similar with Thoroughbreds and Px - difficult TB lines = higher incidence of Px. The crazy Arabian stereotype? Turns out that a lot of "crazy Arabians" also have P3 and/or Px!
There are new discoveries everyday, but so far the evidence is mounting.

Anywayyyyy, I really don't think it's as cut and dried as "genetically crazy." I think there might be "genetically in pain" [and I agree that those horses should never be allowed to reproduce], but genetically crazy - no.

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 03-07-2017 at 06:16 PM.
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post #9 of 85 Old 03-07-2017, 04:48 PM
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Nothing in what you said, sounds 'unusal, or even that the mare is from a bad minded family.
I think you have posted about this mare before, and even ;abuse; was more assumed, versus just poor training.
Yes, minds and dispositions have an inheritance factor, but I think this mare was just never really broke well, or not ridden enough or was just feeling good, or, or or.
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post #10 of 85 Old 03-07-2017, 05:22 PM
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We know mental illness (genetically crazy) runs in families in humans. What is the communities opinion on the penomina in horses?

Now that my interest is piqued, I'll have to do some reading when I'm home.
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