what to look for in weanlings and foals
What should i be looking for in Qh and Paint foals & weanlings?
Well conformation-wise, it's hard to judge how that weanling is going to look. Some faults they can grow out of and it may be normal baby gangliness. You want one that appears healthy, at a good weight, current on deworming. One that has been handled quite a bit is easier to deal with than one who is wild.
If you want one to do a particular sport with then I'd check out the dam and sire info, pedigrees if they have one. If the foal is descended from Impressive I'd want to know if dam and sire were tested for HYPP and what the results were. You can definitely see quality even in young foals. Temperament and personality are a big part too.
Temperament, LEGS AND HOOVES. Handling is good to have but not vital. Sire and dam confo, and foal photos (2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months) if the seller has them. 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months is when they're the closest to adult conformation between birth and adulthood. Might be an old-time horseman's legend, but it works for Mum (she worked on TB studs for years) and I hold a lot of faith in Mum's experience.
If your foal has crappy legs, there is a lot to be said for corrective farrier work while baby is still growing, but there's only so much that can be corrected. Minor faults in the legs are no big deal. Major issues (severely toe-in or toe-out, sickle or cow hocked, offset knees) are something to worry about.
If bubs is over at the knee that can be corrected by the correct tendon-stretching exercises. If bubs is back at the knee, THAT can also be corrected, but instead of stretching those tendons, you want to strengthen them.
I just bought myself a weanling filly, not a QH but IMO breed shouldn't come into it when you're considering what's good conformation and what's not. It's the PURPOSE that counts there - if you want a good halter QH, then you look for that kind of conformation. Conversely, if you want an all-around English performance type, you want different things conformation-wise. ANY horse must have good legs and hooves, because no hoof, no horse!
Bloodlines. Research the lines you want and want to avoid. Especially in QH (and crosses) you want to check for hereditary diseases like HyPP and HERDA.
Bloodlines (registered stock, not "well his grammie was a great ridin' horse by Two Eyed Jack and his daddy was famous all over the county") are important in determining success in a young horse, since their conformation is going to change drastically while they grow.
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But bloodlines aren't everything! I met a man who's been breeding horses for donkey's years. (we're talking 40+ years)
His horses are known to be among the best of their breed in the country. And yet, I have seen a horse, bred by him, from his BEST bloodline, that looked like a dog's breakfast.
Yes, bloodlines ARE a guide, but don't place 100% faith in them, because you could get burned. Good breeders breed the best to the best and hope for the best, but it doesn't always happen according to plan.
You stand a greater chance of ending up with a horse that you want in the end if you buy the bloodlines you want. With youngsters, it's very hard to tell who is going to become what you want. Of course you might end up with a dud - it's all about minimizing that risk when buying a youngster.
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At the same time though, you don't buy a young horse that has really bad legs. Some minor faults can be corrected, as I said, but major things are harder. Legs and hooves are VITAL to the horse's overall soundness. In fact when I went and looked at Satin the first thing I looked at were hooves, then legs. Yes, she has her faults conformationally - like a straight back, which her daddy also has, so I don't have much hope of hers ending up with more curve to it - and yes, I bought her despite the fact that I don't personally like her sire's conformation. But I did it because she has good hooves and legs and a GREAT temperament.
Yes, you want to maximise your chances of getting that spectacular horse, if that's what you're looking for. If it's QH's, then you definitely want HYPP and HERDA negative, so yes, in QH's, you want to know the parents' genetic statuses for both, and yes, if you want spectacular, look for spectacular bloodlines.
I'm just saying, what an individual person wants in a horse depends on their intended purpose for it. My girl is intended to be a fun jumper and eventer, with some allround stuff thrown in - do I hope she'll be the next Teddy O'Connor? Of course I do! Does it mean I'll be disappointed if she's not? No way. Had I bought a filly INTENDING for her to be the next big thing, I probably wouldn't have bought my Satin. I'd have bought a foal from proven bloodlines and prayed that I got the best foal from the pairing of sire and dam. Whatever your discipline, if you want performance, you want a horse from bloodlines proven to produce great performers.
BUT - does that mean that the underdog from unknown/unproven bloodlines can't BE the next best thing? Absolutely not!
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