Breeding: Gaited to Non-Gaited
Would you ever breed a gaited horse to a non-gaited horse? Why? Which breeds would be involved? What would you expect to get?
The reason I wanted to dicuss this was I met a really nice horse a couple weeks ago. He was a TWH/Arab cross. They used him for trails. He had five gaits: walk, trot, canter, rack, and flat walk. He had a lovely TWH temperment, suprisingly nice comformation, and was pretty athletic.
What were the odds of that cross turning out so well? Because I'm sure it would be a "thing" if everything always worked out so well... But as far as I know, gaited to non-gaited breedings are uncommon.
that... about sums up my emotions on the subject. Admittedly, I have a somewhat limited exposure- I board at a mostly gaited barn, don't have a gaited horse but have ridden "pure" gaited horses and mixed gaited horses. These are usually TWH crosses as well. Most of these are unknown crosses, and sketchy breeding, so I can't say what would happen from two well conformed horses, but in my experience:
-"mixed" gaited horses usually had difficulty differentiating from their flat/running walk and trot
-"mixed" gaited horses have an easier time 'learning' to canter or becoming more balanced at the canter, but
-"mixed" gaited horses may be encouraged to trot more as they canter more
-"pure"bred gaited horses usually have an easier time balancing themselves, i.e. carry themselves a little more
Now, please note the paragraph above my bullet points. These are not facts, these are experiences, and definitely does not define all mixed bred gaited horses, mixed bred walkers, or pure bred gaited horses or walkers. Especially since my experience usually involves conformation that may hinder their gaits.
Furthermore, breeding is a crapshoot to begin with- you can hope that the foal will inherit the best qualities of the parents, but there are no certainties.
I would probably not breed gaited to non-gaited. If I want a nice gaited horse, then I would purchase a nice gaited horse. I guess I am in the camp of no nonsense breeding, period. If I was breeding for a gaited horse, I would want the best chance for it to inherit good conformation which would lead to lovely, balanced, natural gaits, which would mean two well conformed gaited parents.
Sorry if that's confusing... but you wanted opinions, right? (:
I see quite a few gaited to non-gaited breedings around here and they usually produce wonky-looking non-gaited horses with an extremely rough trot. If you can find a good one they tend to be great, but otherwise they tend to be something they hide in the back 40.
So while a nice gaitedxnon-gaited crosses can be produced, they are a large gamble at best.
Ok, so cat just took my long, rambling post and summed it up nicely. (:
When you cross breed you play the genetics lotto. That means you may or may not get something you'll like let alone gaited.
While I know crossbreeding is how we've ended up with most of the breeds we have now I'm not a big fan of doing it for myself. I don't have the patience to keep trying over and over until I got exactly what I wanted. It's much faster to just go out and buy what I want instead. Guess if I was a gazillionaire I might have a breeding program that would try to get the best of two breeds combined.
Maybe we have to ask a different question.
Are we talking about "back yard breeding" where an "oh, so beautiful stallion" is being stood to an "oh, so special mare"? Without any regard to type, color, movement, etc.? If so, it's a monumentally bad idea.
Are we talking about trying to create a new type, and ultimately a new breed? If the breeder has the time (several decades), money (a lot), and expertise (including a good eye for brood stock selection, foal evaluation, and a willingness to put down breeding failures) then I've no real heartburn with it.
I had a little TWH when I was a young adult. I bred her to a nice Arabian. The offspring was extremely pretty, gentle, and she had a super smooth trot. She did the walk, trot, canter thing only. She lived for 27 years taking beginners and experienced riders over thousands of miles of trails. When she was younger, she was a nice small jumper. She was never lame a day in her life. She was never sick. She had to be put down after she fell and broke her leg in the pasture. I guess her 27 year old bones were brittle. Wonderful horse. Wonderful experience. Did I win a gamble? Probably. This was the result of a breeding that everybody hates. A kid breeding a horse because they wanted a foal. She had a good life and made my life better. I miss that horse.
I have been involved with gaited horses and ponies since the 70's. I have seen a lot of gaited to non-gaited crosses and very few will have a gait. Those that did have a gait, didn't have a really good gait. Once in a while, a good one may be produced, but they would be the exception and that should not be reason to cross and "hope" you get the same result.
Going beyond gaited to non-gaited, I have known people to breed gaited horses to get gaited mules. I have to tell you, a good gaited mule is totally awesome if you're on the trail. It's a risk --- the offspring may or may not end up gaited but some people have made careers out of it. There's a demand.
If you want a gaited horse, I think you have to breed two gaited horses. I have never seen an exception. If I had bred my half gaited mare to a gaited horse, maybe she would have had a gaited foal.
I think that the gene will prove to be recessive. (Research on this is being done at Cornell.)
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